The consensus says Kyler Murray, so why do I still have trepidation?
NASHVILLE – Could this many people be wrong?
That’s my prevailing thought on the morning of the NFL Draft, held here in Music City for the first time.
In updating the Mock Draft Tracker on ArizonaSports.com this morning, 15 experts from all over the country project the Arizona Cardinals to take Oklahoma Heisman-winning quarterback Kyler Murray with the top overall pick.
This morning’s trend follows the national thinking since mid-March, when Luke Easterling of USA Today’s Draft Wire became the first pundit to project the diminutive Murray to Arizona. Since then, an overwhelming number of mocks have predicted the same thing.
Could this many people be wrong?
And if they’re not, is that a good thing for the Cardinals?
Murray is dynamic, there’s no two ways about it. But even hours before the draft, I can’t help but snicker at the confident prognosticators who claim “this is a no-brainer” or “Murray is the perfect fit for the Kliff Kingsbury offense.”
Is it a no-brainer? There’s a reason no team since the Baltimore Colts in the early 1980s has selected a quarterback in the first round in consecutive drafts. It’s not common practice, and if you miss on those picks, it can set back your franchise a long way.
In the Colts’ case, they selected Ohio State’s Art Schlicter with the fourth pick in 1982. A year later, they took the much-ballyhooed John Elway out of Stanford with the top overall selection. Schlicter played in 13 games and threw three touchdowns in the NFL and saw his career cut short by a crippling gambling addiction. Elway refused to sign with the Colts, threatened to play baseball and engineered a trade to the Denver Broncos, where he won two Super Bowls and carved out a Hall-of-Fame career.
They missed. Badly.
The Colts, who moved to Indianapolis in 1984, would make only one playoff appearance before 1995.
I understand the fascination with Murray. His highlight reel from the 2018 season with the Sooners is jaw-dropping. His statistics are gaudy. Even if the Cardinals don’t draft him Thursday night, he’s about to become the first athlete ever to be picked in the first round of drafts by both the NFL and Major League Baseball.
But Kingsbury was hired before Murray threw his hat in the ring and before he was even considered a viable NFL Draft prospect. He had already signed a contract with the Oakland A’s, who picked him 9th overall in last June’s baseball draft. He played football at Oklahoma last season only because he had Oakland’s blessing.
If Kingsbury is the offensive guru he’s been portrayed to be by many, he should be able to work his magic with Josh Rosen — who one year ago, was the quarterback identified by general manager Steve Keim to be the leader of his team’s future. Keim was so sure about it, he swapped first-round picks with the Oakland Raiders and threw in a third-rounder and a fifth-rounder to move up five spots and get him.
What the Cardinals have ostensibly done is paint themselves into the doomed “what if” corner. What if they trade Rosen, only to watch him have his sizable potential unlocked by another team? What if they keep Rosen, resist the Murray temptation and watch Murray dominate the NFL like he’s dominated the high school and college ranks? And what if Rosen is basically what everyone saw in 2018?
Murray is tantalizing. Rosen is unproven.
It’s tempting to roll the dice in hopes of a quick turnaround. If I’m Steve Keim, I’m holding out hope that another team (looking at you, Oakland) is tantalized enough to trade up to number one to get Murray, and I’m rolling with Rosen.