The NFL Draft is set to begin this Thursday evening and the Arizona Cardinals are on the clock with the first overall pick. Arizona has 10 picks overall in this draft, after finishing the 2018 season at 3-13 overall. As of this writing, the Cardinals could add a few more picks between now and the official opening of the draft if any of the trade rumors are true.
The Cardinals have multiple needs to be filled on their roster before beginning training camp later this summer. Arizona has been busy this offseason with over $60 million dollars available in salary cap space. While the Cards have been able to check off a lot of boxes on the “Need” list, they still have many more positions to fill.
The rumor around the NFL since the Cardinals hired head coach Kliff Kingsbury back on January 8th, is that Oklahoma QB Kyler Murray is coming to the desert. If you tune into any sports segment on local TV or listen to Arizona sports talk on the radio; you will be inundated with information and other juicy thoughts of reuniting Kingsbury with Kyler Murray. The issue with this, is that the Cardinals moved up in last year’s draft to select former UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen. Now while Rosen struggled in his rookie campaign, he also received no favors from his offensive line or fellow offensive players. Injuries and lack of experience under first year head coach Steve Wilkes doomed Arizona. Following the season, owner Michael Bidwell and general manger Steve Keim admitted to their mistake and relieve coach Wilkes of his duties. Following an extensive search, the Cardinals brass brought in a fresh young coach, who had no experience on an NFL sideline; besides holding a clipboard as a career back-up QB in the NFL.
Delving into The Rumor Mill
Hit the rewind button for a quick second if you will. Prior to Kingsbury’s departure last season from Texas Tech University, he stated that if he was with the team who controlled the number one pick in this year’s NFL Draft, he would take Kyler Murray. Fast forward now about six months and look who controls that first overall pick. Kingsbury is set to bring his air-aide attack to the NFL and try his best to match wits with his protégé; Sean McVay of the Los Angeles Rams. Both are considered the future of the NFL, as is Cincinnati Bengals newly hired head coach Zac Taylor and Green Bay Packers head coach Matt LaFleur.
Most prognosticators believe that for Kingsbury’s system to work, he needs an agile and mobile quarterback. Most are saying that Josh Rosen can not fill this role; however, has he been given a fair shake? If you pay close attention to the few interactions that Rosen and Kingsbury have had in their short time together, you may believe that they can. While Rosen may not have the arm strength or superb wheels that Kyler Murray does, Rosen still brings a lot to the table. Enough so, that the Cardinals moved up last year to pick Rosen and tab him as the “Chosen One.”
Repeat of Last Season
Last year’s draft brought a surprise, as the Cleveland Browns shocked the world late and selected Baker Mayfield; another former Oklahoma quarterback. The Browns were projected to be weighing their options between two quarterbacks; neither of which were Mayfield. Will we have a similar situation this year? The Cardinals are making everyone play the guessing game at this moment in time and only Arizona knows what they will do. Deals are rumored to be on the table; but what if Arizona stays in the position, they are in. Will they take Murray? Or will they draft some defensive help? The Cardinals were an organization that prided themselves on their defense in the last decade plus. The biggest question heading into this draft is, do they return to their defensive roots? Or will they turn the keys over to the offensive mastermind Kliff Kingsbury and let him build the team that he wants and needs? So far in press conferences, we have heard that Steve Keim is the one building the coaching staff and roster. Kingsbury is in charge coaching those players and getting them prepared week in and week out.
Heading into this draft it is anyone’s guess as to which direction the Cardinals will go. The way things have felt leading up to this draft, I feel like I am re-watching the 2014 film starring Kevin Costner; Draft Day. The day before the draft we are hearing about character issues with Kyler Murray and comparisons of Kyler’s father to that of LaVar Ball and how he is with his sons. Kyler missed out on a charity function the day before the draft and is starting to have slights made at the type of person he is off the field.
If I had to make my prediction, after hearing months of talk about Kyler Murray coming to the desert, I believe the Cardinals will trade the first pick. I believe Raiders head coach Jon Gruden is infatuated with Kyler Murray and I believe he will lead the Silver and Black into Vegas. The Cardinals will get the Raiders two first round picks (#4 and #27) and select defensive end Quinnen Williams to sure up the front line and then draft former Arizona State wide receiver N’Keal Harry with pick 27; to form the Larry (Fitzgerald) and Harry duo. This trade will position the Cardinals to compete in the NFC West in the next two to three years. It will land them two top prospects, as well as set them up to grab another elite prospect to begin day two of the draft with the first pick (#33) in the second round. While Josh Rosen is not as athletic as Kyler Murray, Rosen has shown he is mature beyond his years by dealing with all these trade talks all offseason long. He has been a consummate professional and has proven in just this short time that he can be the leader that Arizona can lean on once Larry Fitzgerald decides to hang up his cleats. The off the field side is there for Rosen, now it is Kliff Kingsbury’s job to help Rosen to get to the next level on the field.