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Is confidence in Cardinals taking Kyler Murray atop NFL Draft waning?

Arizona Cardinals general manager Steve Keim joins Doug & Wolf for an interview on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station on Feb. 13, 2019. (Arizona Sports/Matt Layman)

A shift happened at the beginning of March.

Quarterback Kyler Murray committed to a football future and looked like the best fit for the Arizona Cardinals and new head coach Kliff Kingsbury, but that the team was dead set on selecting him was an assumption.

Then came the NFL Draft Combine, in which Kingsbury and general manager Steve Keim hardly, and purposefully, left the door open for the team to pick Murray — and even trade current quarterback Josh Rosen.

By that point, it was certainly obvious that those within the NFL community believed the Cardinals were heading toward a selection of Murray with the first pick in the draft. But 10 days out from the draft, reality is setting in.

What if Arizona passes on Murray?

That realization is hitting home. While the Cardinals haven’t tipped their hand either way, how teams drafting behind them are acting is telling as prospects make official visits.

NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah, a former scout, doesn’t have inside sources on the matter, but he does know the business.

The public business of other teams is telling him that, as Keim and his team build a firm draft board, there remains fear outside the Cardinals facility that they haven’t made a hard decision on drafting Murray, drafting someone else or trading the first pick.

Jeremiah isn’t the only NFL analyst wary about the eventuality of Murray to Arizona.

Yahoo! senior NFL reporter Charles Robinson is taking the same evidence seriously. Not only are Murray’s visits to the New York Giants (No. 6) and Washington Redskins (No. 15) telling about his own status; other quarterbacks and players are setting up additional visits in preparation that Murray falling past Arizona creates a domino effect.

We don’t need long-time NFL reporter Peter King of NBC to explain to us that the Cardinals could still be deliberating over all of this.

But here it was leading his weekly column on Monday:

• I don’t believe there is unanimity inside the Cardinals building today either to take Murray, trade down for a passel of picks to a Murray-loving team, or to sit at one and take an impact player for the defense like edge-rusher Nick Bosa. Then again, if GM Steve Keim and Kingsbury both want Murray, that’s going to be the pick.

• The Cards’ personnel brains—led by Keim and VP of player personnel Terry McDonough—are extremely confident people. If you run a team’s player-acquisition department, of course you should be confident. But Keim and McDonough are at the upper end among NFL personnel people in belief in their ability to pick players. I think Keim wouldn’t blink about trading the first pick. Keim won’t be scared to buck conventional wisdom.

King threw out the Raiders as a potential trade partner.

All along, they were the most obvious option because Oakland owns three first-round picks this year and two more next year. Trading veteran Derek Carr has always looked like a valid option despite coach Jon Gruden and GM Mike Mayock calling him their franchise quarterback.

Speaking of the obvious things we’ve forgotten to mention since Kyler-mania began: Arizona needs a lot more than a quarterback.

If Keim and McDonough are so confident in their drafting as King suggests, there would have to be a really good reason for them to be giving up on Rosen after his rookie season. The Cardinals have holes all over the roster they could fill by trading down for a package of picks.

Maybe Murray will be the pick after all.

Keim and Kingsbury might view him as a transcendent talent, making whatever evaluation of Rosen only a side note.

The reality now is like it’s been. Nobody really knows what Arizona is thinking. It seems that remains apparent in NFL circles, too.

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