Charlie Ward: "The Door Is Open" For Kyler Murray

Few people truly understand what it feels like to be Kyler Murray, but Charlie Ward has a pretty good idea

Taz and the Moose
February 20, 2019 - 10:40 am
Kyler Murray Oklahoma Sooners Heisman Trophy West Virginia

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Very few people understand what it feels like to be Kyler Murray, but former Florida State star Charlie Ward has a pretty good idea.

The 1993 Heisman Trophy winner had to decide between the NFL and NBA. In the end, he chose the NBA, joining Glenn Robinson, Jason Kidd, Grant Hill, and Jalen Rose, among others, as first-round picks in 1994.

If Ward, who is 6-0, were coming out of college today, he might not have made the same choice.

“It definitely would have made it tougher,” Ward said on Taz & The Moose. “In this day and time, they’re giving the 6-footers legit opportunities to be a first-round draft pick. When I came out of college, my statement was if I would have gotten drafted in the first round in the NFL, then I would have played football. But if I wasn’t going to get drafted in the first round – I had a third- or fourth-round grade at that time – then I was going to consider my other options.”

Of course, the NBA is a pretty nice fall-back plan.

“When I knew that I was a third- or fourth-round pick based upon my height and arm strength and those types of things, I knew that I wasn’t going to be a first-round pick and it wasn’t a legit opportunity,” Ward said. “So I started to work a little bit harder, a little bit more on my basketball game so that I could have a good showing in the pre-draft camps.”

Ward played for the Knicks from 1994 to 2004 before ending his career with short stints in San Antonio and Houston.

Murray, meanwhile, is a projected first-round NFL Draft pick. But will his game translate to the next level?

“The game has changed, and there are a lot of guys that have come before him that have been special – like Baker Mayfield, Drew Brees and Russell Wilson,” Ward said. “Those guys kind of opened the door for the smaller quarterbacks to be able to thrive and be successful. Someone has set the precedent for him, so he has the opportunity to go in and continue to play as a smaller quarterback. The door is open for him now.”

Murray skeptics, however, are quick to point out his shortcomings (no pun intended). They are also fixated on the type of system that Murray will have to run to be successful.

Ward, 48, doesn’t think that is unique to Murray.

“That’s true for any quarterback,” he said. “The system has to fit the quarterback’s strengths. That’s in any situation. I’m sure wherever he goes, they’ll adapt to his strengths. I think he’s done a good job of proving that he can throw in the pocket, he can also move around and throw, and he can use his legs to get first downs and those types of things. . . . Even (Dwayne) Haskins, he has to be in the right system for him to be able to thrive. I just think wherever he goes, they’ll find a way to play to his strong points.”