ARIZONA CARDINALS

Why NFL mock drafts are going all-in on Kyler Murray to the Cards

Mar 6, 2019, 8:36 AM

Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray (AP photo) and Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury (Matt Layman / Ari...

Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray (AP photo) and Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury (Matt Layman / Arizona Sports).

(Matt Layman / Arizona Sports)

The whispers at St. Elmo Steak House after long days at the NFL Draft Combine did this.

This is the thought that the Arizona Cardinals will select Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray with the first pick in the 2019 draft. And this all started because of a dug-up video from October.

It showed current Cardinals head coach and then-Texas Tech head coach Kliff Kingsbury saying that, if he had the option, he would select Murray first overall in the NFL Draft.

Though it’s unlikely the Cardinals themselves have tipped their hand in any way — that would destroy their leverage if trading out of the top slot is an option — this story hasn’t gone away.

During a week at the combine, it only grew. And we know because well-connected people, including those who make mock drafts, came away with a new conclusion about what Arizona will do. No longer was it a wide majority assuming Arizona would draft Ohio State defensive end Nick Bosa.

NFL.com’s Daniel Jeremiah was the first big name to have the Cardinals selecting Murray in his mock released Tuesday.

The Cardinals fully commit to Kliff Kingsbury and his vision in this scenario, which will lead the team to trade Josh Rosen.

Then came ESPN’s Todd McShay, the master of mocks, who on Wednesday’s 3.0 version switched out Bosa for Murray.

We can’t deny the rumblings here, and we know new coach Kliff Kingsbury recruited Murray in college. I’m not all-in on Arizona taking him just yet, though — the Cards could be trying generate trade interest among the QB-needy teams. Still, the just-tall-enough Murray is a perfect fit to help Kingsbury transition the Air Raid offense to the NFL, and this pick makes sense from a scheme standpoint with all Murray’s athleticism. Now, what could the Cardinals get for Josh Rosen?

Include well-established mock-men like Dan Kadar at SB Nation, Matt Miller at Bleacher Report and Tom Fornelli at CBS Sports, among many others, and this is more than an isolated pick.

What caused all this?

Murray’s 5-foot-10 1/8 inch measurement and 207-pound weigh-in helped his cause at the combine, apparently. But what McShay calls “rumblings” thanks to a few trips to the famous Indianapolis steak house might have had a hand in this too.

“I think, you know, right now the momentum is headed toward Kyler Murray (going first overall),” FOX Sports NFL analyst Charles Davis told Doug & Wolf on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station. “That’s kind of where we’re all locked in on based on what we’ve seen, what we’ve heard, what we’ve watched on tape, all those things that go into it.

“The bottom line is this: if you asked me this question a week ago, two weeks ago, I would have told you that the Cardinals were going to prime the pump and have someone come up to number one with a bunch of numbers, a bunch of draft picks … and they ride with Josh Rosen and off they go.”

Davis was in the thick of it in Indianapolis this past week, taking in trips to St. Elmo Steak House and spending much of his time chatting with insiders. One of his friends in the business, who went unnamed, explained why Murray-to-Arizona picked up steam despite the lack of direct rumors coming out of the Cardinals’ front office.

“I said to him, ‘I still feel like this is a smokescreen,'” Davis said of his friend.

But here’s what Davis’ insider told him. When it comes down to it, the Cardinals did hire Kingsbury, an unconventional head coach who got fired from his head coaching gig in college and who runs an offense that Murray thrived in. Kingsbury also has a prior relationship with Murray’s family having recruited him out of Allen High School in Texas.

“Sometimes you’ve got to go Occam’s razor, man,” Davis’ friend told him. “The thing that makes the most sense, you just have to go with it.”

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