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View from the O-Zone: A QB-centric day


INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – The quarterbacks came, they saw, they spoke to the media.

That was the story Friday afternoon at the 2019 NFL Scouting Combine, an event that has become quite quarterback-centric – with an accompanying idea that this quarterback class could someday be important to the Jaguars.

And if Friday wasn't all-Kyler-Murray-all-the-time, it felt like it when the 2018 Heisman Trophy winner stepped to the podium shortly before 4 p.m.

This was his moment. This was his closeup.

"If my name is called No. 1," the Oklahoma University quarterback said before the day's biggest crowd of reporters and cameras, "I'll be ready to go for sure."

Yes, Murray was Friday's combine star. He addressed expected questions about his size, his commitment to football and – as mentioned above – the suddenly real possibility he might be first player selected in the late-April 2019 NFL Draft. Not unexpectedly, size was the major topic.

Murray, whose lack of prototypical NFL quarterback size is the combine's major storyline, measured 5-feet-10½ and 207 pounds this week. That's not remotely prototype. But because it's bigger than Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, it likely is enough to ensure Murray a spot in the Top 10.

"It is what it is," Murray said. "We can put all that to rest now."

Murray, reportedly a consideration for the Arizona Cardinals with the No. 1 overall selection in the NFL Draft, also addressed the "Football/Baseball Question." A former first-round selection by Major League Baseball's Oakland A's, Murray last month announced he indeed is fully committed to football. As such, he said it hasn't been a major issue this week.

"Everybody's pretty solid on my commitment to football," he said.

What does any of this have to do with the Jaguars?

That's anyone's guess until the draft, but heir uncertain quarterback situation and their position at No. 7 overall in Round 1 made Friday's ongoings particularly interesting to Jaguars observers.

The day essentially began at 3 p.m., when Dwayne Haskins of Ohio State stepped to Podium No. 1. Haskins, considered the draft's top quarterback until Murray's rapid rise, handled himself as a Top 10 quarterback should and answered questions assuredly and professionally.

Told Murray had been outspoken about being selected No. 1, Haskins smiled.

"That's good," he said. "I'm not worried about Kyler. I'm worried about me."

Don't interpret that as a lack of confidence.

"I know I'm a franchise quarterback," Haskins said. "I know I'm going to be a great quarterback in the NFL."

Haskins also said he's unconcerned about how early he is drafted.

 "It's not that important to me," Haskins said. "For me, it's being with the right franchise, the right team and to win a Super Bowl. I don't care how it ranks up as far as QB1, QB2 … it doesn't matter to me.

"I know I'm a top quarterback. I'm just going to spin it. It will speak for itself."

While Murray and Haskins were undoubtedly Friday's major stories, they were hardly the only stories – and they were hardly only players speaking Friday who could be the Jaguars' choice in April.

As Haskins spoke, Missouri quarterback Drew Lock spoke two podiums away. Considered a first-round lock, there is talk around the combine he is improving his stock here.

"If that is the case, and my name is rising, I'm not really surprised about it," Lock said. "I felt confident in who I was as a quarterback. I knew I would go in and talk really smart ball with teams. I know I'll throw really well. I know I'll test really well tomorrow.

"Surprise is definitely not the work to be used."

Confidence, unsurprisingly, was a common trait Friday. Daniel Jones of Duke, the last of this draft's consensus first-round selections, also expressed confidence. So did West Virginia quarterback Will Grier, and North Carolina State quarterback Ryan Finley.

The first thing to remember about Friday's group is you will hear endless speculation about just who the Jaguars might select. Lock, Haskins, Murray and – perhaps to a lesser extent, Jones – will be endlessly connected in every conceivable fashion with the Jaguars in the next few weeks and months.

The more important thing to remember is it's all speculation, and that every rumor about the Jaguars' leaning toward Murray and away from Lock will be countered by one that has them really liking Haskins and not liking Murray's lack of size. And so it will go.

As for what will set the group apart, it won't be Friday. And it won't be Saturday when all of the top quarterbacks except Murray will throw for the league's scouts and coaches. It will be a body of work. And even with all the speculation this week about Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Nick Foles and the Jaguars, the guess here – as of now – is that one of the quarterbacks speaking Friday indeed is the Jaguars' next "franchise quarterback." Which one, specifically?

That remains anyone's guess.

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