ARIZONA CARDINALS

Alabama HC Nick Saban gives praise for Kyler Murray, Quinnen Williams

Mar 8, 2019, 2:00 PM | Updated: Apr 1, 2019, 8:38 am
(Getty Images)...
(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

If you had to pick the three names that are most commonly linked to the Arizona Cardinals in mock drafts, those would probably be Nick Bosa, Kyler Murray and Quinnen Williams.

It just so happens that Alabama head coach Nick Saban is very familiar with the latter two, and had positive things to say about each of them when he joined Bill Lekas and Charlie Weis on SiriusXM NFL Radio this week.

Williams, a defensive lineman, was Saban’s own player at Alabama. He was a starter for two years there for the Clemson Tide, earning a unanimous All-America selection in 2018 as he made 71 tackles, 19.5 for loss, to go with eight sacks and a pass defensed. Several mock drafts have him going No. 1 overall to the Cardinals next month.

“Q is just very, very instinctive,” Saban told SiriusXM NFL Radio. “Really good initial quickness. He’s also one of those guys that’s very bright and understands blocking schemes.

“He’s got a little bit of explosive power to go with his initial quickness. So even though some people would think that he’s a little undersized, he doesn’t play that way. And he’s really athletic and a really good pass-rusher. So a really good combination, I think, for what people are looking for.”

At the combine, Williams measured 6-foot-3 at 303 pounds.

But the latest buzz has been all about Murray, the quarterback who has suddenly found himself surrounded by rumors that the Cardinals might take him No. 1. That would be quite the pick for several reasons, not the least of which being that the Cardinals took Josh Rosen No. 10 overall in last year’s draft.

Saban saw Murray last year when Alabama faced the Oklahoma Sooners in the college football playoff semifinal, winning 45-34. In that game, Murray threw 19-for-37 for 308 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. He also rushed for 109 yards on 17 carries and scored a touchdown.

I think he’s a very dynamic player. Probably the most difficult player to defend that we played against all year. We played against some really good players. I think, like, the Clemson quarterback is really, really a good player. But when you’re talking about a guy that is an effective passer and has the quickness and speed and versatility of Kyler Murray, it is really, really hard on your defense.

It takes you out of almost everything that you want to do. We didn’t get a lot of pressure on the guy because we rushed three guys a lot, because you have somebody spy the guy all the time, and then the spy can’t get him on the ground. So it’s like, ‘Why are we even doing this?’ But when you don’t do it, he pulls it down and runs it for 25 yards. So it’s really, really difficult. This guy is a really dynamic player. A fine young man, too, really sharing some time with them in the playoff game and some of the things that we do, he’s a character quality leader on his team as well.

The NFL Draft will begin on April 25.

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