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Dan Bickley

Cardinals facing colossal decision in Kyler Murray as NFL Draft looms

(AP Photo/Alonzo Adams)

Our NFL team was a decade late on Adrian Peterson.

They acquired Terrell Suggs 16 years after he should’ve debuted in Arizona.

Both are cautionary tales entering the 2019 NFL draft, where the Cardinals are staring down another potentially colossal mistake.

Welcome to another Kyler Murray story.

He is the Football Yoda, where size matters not. He is the modern-age underdog, poised to become the NFL’s equivalent of Steph Curry. He is probing the paralyzing fear and groupthink that has plagued league executives for decades. And after his fruitless Pro Day in Oklahoma, he is a bigger risk than ever.

If Murray flames out in the NFL, his pre-draft posturing will haunt his employer for years. He chose not to run the 40-yard dash on Wednesday, leaving his mythical speed unquantified. He felt no need to confirm his height to all non-believers, choosing not to eliminate suspicions about his just over 5-foot-10 measurement at the NFL Scouting Combine.

Very strange. Or very not.

When a prospect chooses to not to run and hide during testing season, it’s a sure sign that their draft status is secure. The Cardinals’ top brass didn’t even bother to show up in Oklahoma, notified in advance about Murray’s gamesmanship.

And that’s the only way I want the Cardinals drafting a diminutive quarterback like Murray in the first place.

Their conviction has to be in place, unshakeable, off the charts. They must believe in Murray’s talent enough to dismiss all the silly stuff, like Combine data and if the measurements in Indianapolis were from his scalp down or the top of his hair.

But there’s no doubt Murray is playing some kind of game. He wasn’t even sure if the NFL would give him a sniff entering his final season at Oklahoma. He originally signed up to be a great defensive presence and light-hitting outfielder for the A’s.

To assume he can dictate terms to the NFL is a crazy show of leverage. To withhold evidence and confirmation is also arrogant and off-putting to many in the football audience.

That’s why he’s more dangerous than ever.

But we live in an era of athletic empowerment. Players specialize in gaming systems. NBA players conspire to form super teams and feign unhappiness to force trades. Agents wield too much power, keenly aware of the stupid money flowing inside professional sports. And Murray’s decisions seem as scripted as his Pro Day at Oklahoma.

So, go ahead. Declare. Whose side are you on?

Is this teensy-weensy quarterback destined to fail? Or are his short arms a blessing in disguise, the key components in his elite-level release? Remember, a quarterback’s most valuable asset is the ability to get rid of the football fast, like a pitch that can’t be hit or a jump-shot that can’t be blocked.

Do you believe that Murray is simply too much risk? Or is he the quarterback of the future, opening minds and hearts and opportunities for others?

Just don’t blame him for these business decisions. Murray is fighting powerful stereotypes and NFL types conditioned to cover their behinds. If his destiny is to blow the roof off the NFL, giving Kliff Kingsbury the quarterback he always dreamed of, he has to get there first. As for the doubters?

The proof is in his quickness, his vision, his accuracy and his twitchy, lightning-fast release. All the proof you need has already been shown on the football field.

Yes, the Cardinals should draft Murray with the No. 1 overall pick. He is more a quarterback than Josh Rosen. He is perfectly suited for Kingsbury’s offense. He would be playing for a head coach that has zero doubts in his ability, and that will go a long way when an undersized young man walks into an NFL locker room, tasked with proving himself to grizzled veterans.

Maybe you disagree. Just don’t act like this story is tiresome or played out or that you’re sick of hearing about Kyler Murray. A real Cardinals fan would never feel that way, not with this kind of energy swirling overhead. After all:

Only one team in the NFL has the chance to select with Murray with the first overall pick. Only one team has a chance to make NFL history, pinning its future on one of the smallest athletes ever to play the position. At that moment, that team is ours.

Do the Cardinals have that kind of nerve and vision?

Or will they cower in the corner, play it safe, trade the pick and draft a defensive player, thus risking a regret they might shoulder for eternity. Just like Adrian Peterson and Terrell Suggs?

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Dan Bickley bio
Dan Bickley is the most influential sports media member in Arizona sports history, having spent over 20 years as the award-winning lead sports columnist for The Arizona Republic and AZCentral.com and almost two decades as a Valley sports radio talk show host. In spring 2018, Bickley made the decision to leave the newspaper to join the Arizona Sports team as host of the entertaining and informative midday show Bickley and Marotta, as well as bring his opinionated and provocative column exclusively to ArizonaSports.com.
Bickley’s journalism career began in his hometown of Chicago, where he was part of a star-studded staff at the Chicago Sun-Times. He chronicled Michael Jordan’s six NBA championships; covered the Olympics in eight different countries and attended 14 Super Bowls; spent three weeks in an Indianapolis courthouse writing about Mike Tyson’s rape trial; and once left his laptop in an Edmonton bar after the Blackhawks reached the Stanley Cup Finals.
He has won multiple awards, written two books, formed a rock band, fathered three children, and once turned down an offer to work at the New York Times.  His passions include sports, music, the alphabet, good beer and great radio. After joining Arizona Sports 98.7 FM, he couldn’t be happier