What was rumored for months finally came to fruition. Kyler Murray was selected first overall by the Arizona Cardinals.
Well, it didn’t take long for there to be a reach in the 2019 NFL Draft. The Arizona Cardinals started the night off with the selection of former Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray. While this has been the projected pick for months now, are we sure it was the correct one?
It was no more than 365 days ago that the Cardinals traded away capital to move up to the tenth overall pick to select Josh Rosen. Now, a year later, here we sit with a new quarterback under center. But what does this mean for the team? What do they do with Rosen now that Murray looks to be their guy? Assuming a trade is in the books, what’s his value at and where could he go?
Accessing the overreach the Cardinals took
One thing is for sure, the Cardinals sure did swing for the fences with this pick. The question now is, will it pan out? For many in the media, Murray wasn’t widely converted as a top player in this year’s class. Personally, Murray finished the draft process as the unquestioned number one quarterback. His value doesn’t line up with where he was selected, however, as the 44th overall player on my personal big board.
Next off, Murray’s fit in Arizona. After being the successor to Baker Mayfield, Murray set the college football world on fire running his way to becoming the Heisman Trophy winner this past season. But Murray’s play went much farther than that. After moving on from baseball and switching his full attention to football, his draft stock raised at a substantial amount. It was from that moment on that Murray became linked to the Cardinals and to new head coach Kliff Kingsbury.
Murray’s fit in Kingsbury’s offense
At first look, Murray looks to be the perfect fit for Kingsbury’s offensive system. While that may certainly be the case, was he worth moving on from a one-year quarterback who you just traded up to draft? That question certainly varies depending on who you ask. I tend to lean more on the side that it’s not worth it.
There’s no denying how electric Murray is as a quarterback. His mobility is untouched in this year’s quarterback class and he certainly has the arm talent to make throws to all levels of the field. The hiccup comes with his poise and ability under pressure, or lack thereof. As seen in the Alabama game, Murray started to struggle when there’s pressure in his face. This has led to some ill-advised decisions and mistakes with the ball. Some of these throws came because Murray simply struggled to see the receivers and his lack of anticipation at times is evident.
On the flip side, Murray has fantastic ability to make plays off script. He can leave the pocket and run around to give his receivers more time to stay open. Of course, we all know how lethal his running ability is as he simply flew past all defenders at the collegiate level.
Breaking down Rosen’s first year
One of the biggest misconceptions of last season was that Rosen was not good. That was in fact not true when you take the context into account. Rookie quarterbacks often struggle as they adjust to the speed and complexity of the NFL.
In order to understand Rosen’s rookie season, you must first understand the situation he was in. Rosen entered the 2018 season with a first-year head coach who frankly wasn’t prepared for the job. This same head coach wouldn’t make it to the end of the year based on his performance.
Josen Rosen was sacked 17 times in under 2.5 seconds – most in NFL…— Ben Fennell (@BenFennell_NFL) March 23, 2019
17 sacks essentially before you can 5-step with a hitch… Holy moly
Arizona’s issues went much deeper than an incompetent head coach. The offensive line broke down and struggled to protect Rosen. Take the stat above for instance. Before Rosen was able to get to the top of his five-step drop (which is a standard drop) he was already sacked. That doesn’t include the times he escaped the pressure or threw the ball away.
According to Pro Football Focus, the Cardinals offensive line ranked 32nd in the league, which is dead last. Of course, this shouldn’t come as a surprise for those who saw any of the Cardinals’ games. By the end of the season, the team had 11 different offensive linemen play at least 100 snaps. This type of consistent change and rotation of players along the line is enough to throw any quarterback off.
The highs and lows of Rosen’s rookie year
As for any rookie quarterback, Rosen had many highs and lows as the season progressed.
This probably seems like an unpopular opinion nowadays but I still 100% believe in Josh Rosen. He had plenty of “franchise QB” flashes last year. Get him some protection & WR’s to work with. pic.twitter.com/CyydPrSfED— Zona Sports (@AZSportsZone) April 10, 2019
Looking back at Rosen’s college evaluation and the arm talent is clear. That didn’t change this past season. Take the play above for example. Here Rosen leaves the pocket to give the play time to develop. He then makes it so easy to deliver the pass on the run and right in the catch radius of Larry Fitzgerald.
Josh Rosen’s top throws when his OL actually blocked in 2018— IB AXELROD (@incarceratedbob) April 4, 2019
Here you see what Rosen CAN do when given time. That’s not to distract from his struggles shown throughout the season though. Rosen struggled at times. There is no denying that. The thing that was most impressive though was his ability to come back and learn from the mistakes he made. There were times where he made a bad mistake and threw an interception, but instead of getting down on himself he learned and never made that same mistake again.
While Murray’s upside may be through the roof, he is still not fully developed mentally and can struggle greatly under pressure (as seen in the Alabama game). Because of this, and the natural skill set Rosen offers, it has made Murray one of the most over drafted players in the first round.