Murray Makes History, Joined by Brown in First Round
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Highlighted by a second straight No. 1 overall selection, the University of Oklahoma produced a pair of first-round National Football League draft picks Thursday night on the banks of the Cumberland River in downtown Nashville. Quarterback Kyler Murray was selected with the first pick by the Arizona Cardinals and Marquise Brown went No. 25 overall (first receiver drafted) to the Baltimore Ravens.
Murray went No. 1 overall one year after Baker Mayfield did the same. OU is the first school to ever produce first-round quarterback selections in consecutive NFL Drafts. Murray and Mayfield also won back-to-back Heisman trophies.
The only other school to produce consecutive No. 1 overall selections was USC in 1968 (offensive lineman Ron Yary) and 1969 (running back O.J. Simpson).
Murray made more history Thursday by becoming the only person ever selected in the first round of both the Major League Baseball and NFL drafts. He was taken No. 9 overall last June by the Oakland A's, but announced in February that he will play football professionally instead of baseball.
Oklahoma has now produced 45 first-round NFL Draft picks in its history, and is now tied with Auburn, Notre Dame and USC with five No. 1 overall selections. OU's other top picks were defensive lineman Lee Roy Selmon (1976), running back Billy Sims (1980), quarterback Sam Bradford (2010) and Mayfield.
From Allen, Texas, Murray led the Sooners to a 12-2 record in 2018, a fourth consecutive Big 12 championship, a second straight appearance in the College Football Playoff and a No. 4 final AP ranking in his only year as their starter. The redshirt junior completed 260 of 377 passes on the year for 4,361 yards and 42 touchdowns to seven interceptions. He also rushed for 1,001 yards and another 12 scores, becoming just the second player in FBS history to throw for at least 4,000 yards and run for at least 1,000 in a season (Clemson's Deshaun Watson did it in 2015 with 4,109 passing and 1,105 rushing in 15 games).
"It's been a dream of mine since I was a kid," Murray told ESPN after he was drafted. "All the hard work. Everyone that has been in my corner and pushed me to be here, I can't thank them enough. I have to thank God. This is surreal."
OU head coach Lincoln Riley was quick to express his feelings after Murray was selected.
"I'm just so proud of Kyler and the way he's handled this entire process," said Riley. "He's gone through something that no one has ever gone through with the amount of scrutiny in different sports, the hype that he's had since he was such a young kid. To see him get to this moment as the No. 1 pick, that's been his dream. To see him live this part of it out is awesome."
Murray led the nation in total yards last season (school-record 5,362), points responsible for (324; tied), yards per pass attempt (FBS-record 11.6) and yards per completion (16.8). He also ranked second in passing efficiency rating (school-record 199.2) and passing touchdowns (42).
Murray's 54 total touchdowns in 2018 were the second-most in program history, his 42 passing TDs were third-most in a season at OU and his passing yardage total ranks fifth in school annals. He became the first OU player to ever pass for at least 300 yards and rush for at least 100 yards in a game, and he accomplished the feat three times during the season.
Murray also became the first FBS player to average at least 300.0 passing yards (311.5) and at least 60.0 rushing yards (71.5) per game for a season. His 5,362 yards of total offense were more than 77 of the country's other 129 teams, including five squads that were ranked in the final AP Top 25 Poll.
Brown, a junior from Hollywood, Fla., earned AP First-Team All-America honors in 2019 after ranking 14th nationally with 94.1 receiving yards per game and registering 10 receiving touchdowns. His 1,318 receiving yards rank as fourth most in school single-season history and he tied for the national lead in receptions of 40-plus yards (11), 50-plus yards (seven) and 60-plus yards (four). Despite battling injuries during his final season with the Sooners, he logged six games with at least 100 receiving yards. He paired with CeeDee Lamb to give OU its first duo to each record at least 1,000 receiving yards in a season.
In a win at No. 12 West Virginia to end the regular season, Brown hauled in a career-high 11 passes for 243 yards (second most in OU history) and two touchdowns. At Iowa State in September, he set the Sooners' record for receiving yards in a half with 189 in the first half.
As a sophomore in 2018, his first year at OU after transferring from College of the Canyons, Brown finished with a team-high 1,095 receiving yards to rank eighth in single-season school history. He averaged 19.2 yards per catch to rank 18th nationally and hauled in seven touchdown passes. Included was a school-record 265-yard performance on nine catches (two touchdowns) at Oklahoma State.
"Marquise's story is well-documented," said Riley. "What are the chances a guy who had to walk to work and fight his way just to get to junior college ends up being the first receiver taken? I'm thrilled for him and his opportunity. He's going to bring a lot to the Baltimore Ravens. Their fans will love his explosiveness, which we really came to appreciate the last couple of years at Oklahoma."
The second and third rounds of the NFL Draft will take place Friday night, while rounds four through seven will be held Saturday.