Orlando, Florida -
Posturing, politicking and picks. It’s NFL draft season and the number one overall pick is up for sale. But don’t get it twisted, you won’t hear anyone from the Cardinals say they’re selling. On the contrary, all you’re hearing right now is how Arizona is scheduled to work out and meet with Murray, all you’re hearing right now is how Kyler is a perfect fit for 1st year head coach Kliff Kingsbury’s offense, all you’re hearing is ‘With the first pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, the Arizona Cardinals select, Kyler Murray. Quarterback, Oklahoma.’ But here’s the thing, that’s exactly what Cardinals GM Steve Keim wants you and every QB-desperate team to hear.
Before I get into any of this, I just want to make my views on Kyler Murray the player extremely clear, I believe he is the best Quarterback in this draft and has a chance to be a very good player in the NFL. Kyler being talked about as the number one pick is exactly what should be happening based on his talent and his projection to the NFL game. With that being said, he’s not going to be the first overall pick by the Arizona Cardinals in the 2019 NFL Draft.
Yes, Kliff Kingsbury recruited Murray when he was the head coach at Texas Tech. Yes, Kingsbury said that he would draft Murray first overall before he was fired from Tech and hired as the Cardinals coach. And yes, Kingsbury runs a high-octane air raid offense that most college quarterbacks nowadays are used to. All these things are true, and yet I’m telling you that the Cardinals aren’t going to take Kyler number one. I look at the arguments being made, and I think ‘Yeah, but’ in every instance.
Yes, Kliff Kingsbury recruited Murray to play at Texas Tech, but in college recruiting coaches will recruit anyone with 4 and 5 star rating, it doesn’t mean they’ll play/thrive under that coach’s tutelage. Yes, Kingsbury said he would take Murray first overall when he was at Tech, but that’s what you say as an opposing coach and even if you believe Kyler is the best QB in this draft, it doesn’t mean you think he’s a better player than the guy you have under center right now, Josh Rosen. And Yes, Kliff Kingsbury runs a high octane Mike Leach-style air raid offense similarly to OU head coach, Lincoln Riley, who learned under ‘The Pirate’ himself for 6 seasons as an assistant at Texas Tech. But unlike Riley, Kingsbury consistently chose a Quarterback architype that isn’t close to Kyler Murray. Yes, he had 6 foot nothing semi-mobile Baker Mayfield as his starter early on, but guess who he benched him for? 6’5 pocket passer Davis Webb. After him, 6’3 gunslinger with a rocket arm, Patrick Mahomes. Clearly, Kingsbury has a type and 5’10 mobile quarterbacks ain’t it, chief.
Sure, you can point to Johnny Manziel when Kingsbury was the OC for A&M as a QB architype similar to Murray and that’s fair, but I can’t speculate on how much control he had over the QB choice during his time in College Station. Maybe Kingsbury loves Murray, maybe Kingsbury thinks Murray’s a perfect fit for his system, but history points to that being misguided and in my opinion, flat out wrong.
But let’s be real here, none of this matters. Kingsbury isn’t making this decision, GM Steve Keim is the one running the show here. Keim is the one that is going to have to answer to drafting Kyler with the first overall pick after giving up assets last year to move up and draft current starting QB, Josh Rosen. I think most people would look at the Cardinals roster, the team Keim helped build, and say ‘they have some pieces but this roster is far from competing for a title.’ I’m sure everyone in the Cardinals organization would agree with that crude assessment.
The question I am left with is, what is the best way to build this team? The simple answer remains, use the number one overall pick in the most efficient way possible and personally I don’t think drafting a QB in the top-10 in back to back years screams efficiency. But above just logical thinking and beyond my own opinions of this roster, the thing that makes me think this has never been real is the disconnect between the talk and the action. Simply put, I think that if you knew at this point you were going to draft Murray with the first pick, there would have been concrete reports that Arizona was shopping Josh Rosen. The act of not shopping Rosen does not align in my mind with the action of deciding Kyler is your guy moving forward. The argument to be made here is as simple as, GM Steve Keim is just waiting out the market to get a better deal for Rosen. I don’t buy that, I don’t buy that Keim is willing risk allowing the draft to come, picking Murray at 1 and seeing Josh Rosen’s trade value drastically fall.
At the end of the day, I go back to one thing and one thing only, it’s too loud. Everything surrounding Murray to the Cards is too loud, and it’s gotten to the point where it feels orchestrated. It feels like a clever GM decided he needs to build the value of his most important asset, it feels like he knows Rosen is his guy, and it feels like Keim knows his boat has a lot of holes that need to filled before it starts to sink. As much as I lay out some facts to make my points logical, this is as simple as I smell something fishy.