For the first time, the Miami Hurricanes have themselves a quarterback. In the off-season, D’Eriq King transferred from the University of Houston as a graduate transfer, making him immediately eligible for the 2020 season.
Entering into an offense built for a king, the expectations for King and new offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee and through the roof.
State of the U guru Roman Marciante likened King to a Ferrari in his player profile of the Hurricanes starting quarterback and there may be no better comparison for King. Not only is King one of the fastest quarterbacks in college football, but he’s also probably one of the fastest players overall.
While it’s a blessing for the Hurricanes, who are poised to improve with King in charge, the combination of his small stature and his blazing speed may signal a position change in the NFL for King.
In a recent tweet about King, Reese’s Senior Bowl Executive Director summed up the major concerns for the small quarterback’s future at the position. Believed to be closer to 5-foot-9 than the listed 5-foot-11, some scouts and NFL executives may believe King is more suited for a slot receiver role in the NFL.
.@CanesFootball QB D’Eriq King is one of the most dynamic players in college football but at under 5’9” some scouts think his best pro position will be slot WR. If he comes to @seniorbowl we’ll play him wherever the NFL wants to see him—maybe both spots. #TheDraftStartsInMOBILE pic.twitter.com/YFktYxkRhy— Jim Nagy (@JimNagy_SB) July 30, 2020
Although King may have the talent to play quarterback at any level, short quarterbacks simply do not usually make it at the next level.
Is King the Next Kyler Murray?
Since the 2015 NFL Draft, Kyler Murray is the shortest quarterback to be selected in the first round. Measured at 5-foot-10, Murray’s biggest question mark coming into the NFL Draft was his height. However, Murray also possessed a lot of traits that NFL scouts and fans would rave over. Murray had strong velocity on his throws and had sufficient enough accuracy to make it work at the next level.
Simply put, what Murray lacked in frame and stature, he made up for in play. In his lone season starting, Murray completed 69 percent of his passes for 4,361 yards and 42 touchdowns. On the ground, the quarterback added 12 more touchdowns. Murray’s successful season for Oklahoma was rewarded with the 2018 Heisman Trophy Award.
There’s a possibility that King sees similar success with the Hurricanes but it’s unlikely in the short term. Murray’s season is considered an all-time strong performance and his success seem unmatched for so many.
In a significantly weaker defensive conference, Murray had no problems breaking teams down. It wasn’t until the College Football Playoffs, when Oklahoma faced Alabama, that Murray faced his toughest challenge yet. Although Murray finished with a strong game statistically, Murray seemed rattled throughout the early part of the game. Murray would eventually settle down near the end of the game but it was too little too late, as Alabama carried a 21-0 first-quarter lead to an eventual win.
Although Murray may have helped pave the way for shorter quarterbacks to succeed in the NFL, it’s too early to tell if that’s a fact. As of now, Murray is more of an anomaly to the quarterback position.
The Switch to Wide Receiver?
It’s entirely possible that King gets asked to move to wide receiver at the next level, as mentioned by Nagy.
King will likely draw initial interest at the wide receiver position, likely due to his swift feet and ability to make opposing players miss at the next level.
King has some experience at wide receiver, confined to his early years at Houston. In 2016 and 2017, King saw time at wide receiver, where he grabbed 58 passes for 492 yards and three touchdowns.
The transition, however, isn’t always a smooth one, even with experience in college. Even though there are some exceptions, many quarterbacks turned wide receivers struggle to build strong NFL careers.
Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman is likely the most successful collegiate quarterback to switch to wide receiver. Over his 10-year career, Edelman has 599 receptions as a slot wide receiver.
Terrelle Pryor is one of the most athletic college football players in college history and throughout his time at Ohio State, saw success at quarterback. Over three seasons with the Buckeyes, Pryor threw for 6,177 yards and a touchdown-to-interception ratio of 57 and 26. On the ground, Pryor totaled 2,188 yards and 19 touchdowns.
Selected in the third round of the 2011 Supplemental Draft, Pryor was mostly a wide receiver in the NFL. In his six-year NFL career, Pryor finished with 115 receptions and 1,563 yards. Pryor’s most successful season came in 2016 when Pryor finished with 1,007 yards on 77 receptions.
However, most collegiate quarterbacks turned wide receiver have failed in the NFL.
Former Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson is one of college football’s most electrifying quarterbacks in recent memory but a positional switch meant a short NFL career for Robinson. Robinson’s NFL career ended after just four seasons, where he saw 263 carries and 47 receptions.
Can D’Eriq King Play Quarterback in the NFL?
One look at King’s height will raise eyebrows and that’s fine. If King is indeed 5-foot-9, King would be the shortest starting quarterback in the NFL but size doesn’t matter like it used to.
King will need some help schematically in the NFL to play quarterback but all it takes is one forward-thinking offensive coordinator willing to take a shot on sheer talent and athleticism. In 2018, King thrived in Kendall Briles’ unorthodox system that used isolated routes and RPOs and although most NFL schemes are not that simple, there are NFL offensive coordinators who can get the most of King.
Lamar Jackson had question marks when it came to his schematical fit in the NFL but Baltimore Ravens’ offensive coordinator Greg Roman molded an offense to fit Jackson. In Roman’s versatile option-based scheme, Jackson reached new climaxes and captured the 2019 NFL MVP.
If the NFL Draft started today, there’s no clear spot where King could be selected. Likely a Day 3 pick, King’s height will be an impediment to some NFL teams. However, King has plenty of talent to build a strong NFL career under center, where he belongs.
If he wants to stay at quarterback in the NFL, there’s no stopping King from proving NFL scouts wrong. Not only is King mobile but he’s a strong deep-ball thrower who has plenty of arm strength and accuracy to allow his wide receivers to make plays.