DAN BICKLEY

Cardinals need to select Kyler Murray with No. 1 pick in 2019 NFL Draft

Feb 21, 2019, 6:59 PM | Updated: Feb 22, 2019, 7:39 am
File - In this Oct. 27, 2018, file photo, Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray maneuvers during the te...

File - In this Oct. 27, 2018, file photo, Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray maneuvers during the team's NCAA college football game against Kansas State in Norman, Okla. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki, File)

(AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki, File)

The NFL is blinded by bias. Paralyzed by analysis. Forgetful that what makes a player great can’t be quantified with stopwatches and tape measures.

Like the 2-3 inches that separate Kyler Murray from no way to no-brainer.

More than ever, the Cardinals need to select Murray with the No. 1 pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. As the loudest supporter of Josh Rosen in the Valley, I hereby announce the time has come to draft his replacement.

It’s because everything you believe to be true about the NFL is false, corrupted by arrogance or changing on a daily basis.

Size no longer matters. Maybe it never did. Or maybe it only mattered between the ears of those selecting the players and protecting their own jobs. Either way, an eternal truth has finally bubbled to the surface in the NFL:

If you’re good enough, you’re big enough.

Drew Brees and Russell Wilson are proof that height is a state of mind. Patrick Mahomes and Baker Mayfield are evidence that Air Raid quarterbacks can succeed without lengthy internships. The future is now hitched to head coaches who can mold aggressive philosophies around dynamic talent, riding the wave of innovation in the NFL, exploiting rules that continue to marginalize defensive players, big hitters and bounty hunters.

But this is way more than that.

When the Cardinals hired Kliff Kingsbury, the move was either revered or reviled for its unconventional nature. It’s a big-time throw of the dice. It excited an audience bored to tears by his predecessor. It’s a smart play, given the direction of the NFL and the malaise that followed this football team in 2018. And it’s a dangerous move, asking a glorified play-caller to serve as head coach, surrounding him with assistants selected by the general manager.

That’s why Murray is so important.

Can you really believe in the sincerity and vision of our football team if they hire Kingsbury and pass on the quarterback he covets most? If they fail to give Kingsbury the one player who can fuel his credibility and empower his fledgling voice?

Keep in mind, Kingsbury gushed over Murray long before he surfaced as an NFL coaching candidate, when he had no reason to hide his true intentions. His comments from back then matter more than ever now, when everyone is lying.

If Steve Keim is bold enough to believe in Kingsbury, he must do the same with Murray. The confluence of events is too perfect, and there are no good reasons not to draft Murray.

Remember, Michael Bidwill is a progressive student of history. He once stormed into Ken Whisenhunt’s office, demanding to know where the former head coach had slotted Wilson on his draft board, before the diminutive quarterback landed in Seattle and changed the balance of power in the NFC West.

Some believe the Cardinals would be far better served by drafting Nick Bosa, a defensive standout who can elevate the team’s pass rush. I’m sure he’d be a fine addition. Except look at how the last Big 12 quarterback fared as the No. 1 pick in the draft (Baker Mayfield) compared to the first defensive lineman selected in 2018 (Bradley Chubb). Whom would you prefer?

The reigning Heisman Trophy winner is no more fragile than any other NFL quarterback. He might be more elusive, frequently described as having eyes in the back of his head. He is committing to football for the first time in his life, drawn to the position by the glory and the doubt. And how often does a player of his caliber fit so perfectly in the grand scheme of a first-year head coach?

That doesn’t mean they have to give up or trade Rosen. To the contrary. Stage a battle. Best man wins and the other gives Arizona one of the best backup quarterbacks in the NFL. A little competition might do wonders for the quarterback room.

Besides, if the Cardinals pass on Murray, they are scoffing at the pioneering spirit that led them to Kingsbury in the first place. And what fun is that?

Reach Bickley at dbickley@bonneville.com. Listen to Bickley & Marotta weekdays from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station.

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