ARIZONA CARDINALS

NFL.com’s Brooks: Cardinals should draft Kyler Murray, trade Josh Rosen

Feb 19, 2019, 10:58 AM
Cardinals QB Josh Rosen, left, and Oklahoma prospect Kyler Murray, right. (AP photos)...
Cardinals QB Josh Rosen, left, and Oklahoma prospect Kyler Murray, right. (AP photos)
(AP photos)

As much as the Arizona Cardinals have downplayed any thought of trading quarterback Josh Rosen this offseason, the narrative tying them to prospect Kyler Murray will linger until they deny that selecting Murray is an option with the No. 1 pick.

General manager Steve Keim can chuckle at the October soundbite of then-Texas Tech head coach Kliff Kingsbury wishing he could draft then-Oklahoma QB Murray first in the ensuing draft.

At the least, the noise is entertaining. At the most, it could build a trade market for Arizona’s No. 1 pick.

What the Cardinals have done is express support for Rosen, who after a rocky rookie season can find stability working under Kingsbury.

“Our feelings toward Josh haven’t waned or changed or anything,” the first-year Cardinals head coach said last week. “I get we have the first pick and there’s going to be a million scenarios over the next three months that are going to come up. No — Josh is our guy. Kyler is a tremendous player. I said that, was being very complementary before playing an opponent. I understand the soundbite.”

But despite all that, the occasional pro-Murray, anti-Rosen opinions will continue to emerge. The latest is NFL.com draft analyst Bucky Brooks, who believes that Kingsbury’s October comments about Murray’s talent weren’t just about buttering up an opponent of Kingsbury’s Red Raiders.

I would love to believe the Cardinals’ coach, but Murray’s skills are a perfect match for the team’s new system. At Texas Tech, Kingsbury unleashed a mobile playmaker in Patrick Mahomes with outstanding success. He could create a similar scenario in Arizona with Murray running the show. Although I’m not putting Murray in the same class as Mahomes, the reigning NFL MVP, I do believe the Cardinals should make him the top pick and wave goodbye to Rosen.

I know the thought of moving on from a first-round quarterback seems ridiculous after one season, but how often do you get to land a five-star talent who perfectly matches your system? Moreover, do you believe a franchise quarterback ideally suited for your offense is worth the price of giving up a top-10 pick and some cash (Rosen made about $11.3 million in signing bonus and base salary in 2018)?

Brooks believes the Cardinals could trade Rosen, the No. 10 selection in last year’s draft, for a mid-round pick.

It’s explaining that where we see Brooks views Rosen as more of a poor fit for Kingsbury’s Air Raid system than Kingsbury’s staff does.

Although his rookie numbers were greatly affected by instability at the offensive coordinator position and a subpar offensive line, Rosen connected on 55.2 percent of his passes with an 11:14 touchdown-to-interception ratio. Those numbers aren’t bad for a classic pocket passer with limited mobility playing behind a shaky offensive line that failed to protect him.

Rosen’s offensive line was shaky.

He fits the profile of a classic pocket passer in many ways, but it’s Brooks discussing Rosen’s mobility that might be the red flag when considering if the Cardinals would agree with the NFL.com analyst.

Is Rosen really that bad of a fit for Kingsbury’s offense? He’s no rushing threat, but quarterbacks like Jared Goff, Nick Foles and even Mahomes made zone-read plays possible without being frequent runners.

In fact, Arizona’s coaching staff under former coach Steve Wilks and its new one under Kingsbury loved Rosen’s mobility.

“We always used to say they’re going to be seven to 10 times a game where the quarterback is going to have to move around. It’s probably more than that now,” said new Cardinals pass game coordinator and quarterbacks coach Tom Clements. “Those are things he did better than I expected.”

While Brooks’ opinion of Rosen’s fit in the Cardinals’ new offense might be up for debate, what’s more unanimously agreed upon is Rosen’s talent compared to the 2019 quarterback draft class.

With that in mind, I believe a team in need of a QB1 would certainly opt for Rosen over one of the signal-callers available in the 2019 draft. You could make a reasonable argument that Rosen would be the best passer in the class or cherry pick the top five and slot him in where he fits. I would rank Rosen no lower than third among the passers in this class, with the Cardinals QB slotted ahead of Missouri’s Drew Lock and Duke’s Daniel Jones. Although each is viewed as a better athlete and playmaker, Rosen is a more refined passer with a game that easily fits into a traditional pro-style offense.

Most of that is probably true. And regardless of Arizona’s opinion of Rosen or Murray, the potential for the Cardinals to select Murray outside of their walls could give them more insight to the rest of the drafting field. That’s never a bad thing.

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NFL.com’s Brooks: Cardinals should draft Kyler Murray, trade Josh Rosen