What they said about new Cardinals QB Kyler Murray before NFL Draft
The Arizona Cardinals made it official on Thursday, selecting Oklahoma Sooners quarterback Kyler Murray with the No. 1 pick in the 2019 NFL Draft.
A bit short at 5-foot-10 or not, Murray makes football sense for Arizona despite the selection of quarterback Josh Rosen a year prior. Head coach Kliff Kingsbury’s quick-hit spread offense could use an athletic quarterback to move the pocket. Murray and Kingsbury already have a deep relationship from the coach recruiting the quarterback to the collegiate level.
“I have a great relationship with him,” Murray said of Kingsbury at the NFL Draft Combine. “He’s always been very fond of me, and I respect that and I’ve never taken that for granted. He’s always someone I could go to if I needed anything. It’d be fun (to play for Kingsbury).”
Heading into the draft, here are what the Cardinals and respected members of the media said about the NFL’s most polarizing draft prospect.
Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury at the NFL Draft Combine
“I guess it’s more, ‘What don’t you like?’ When you watch him play, he can run it, he can throw it. You know, he’s a competitor.
“He was one of the better Texas high school players to come through our state. I don’t know if there’s one thing you can pinpoint. He’s one of the best dual-threat players to ever play.”
Cardinals GM Steve Keim at the NFL Draft Combine to Bickley & Marotta on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station
“As you grow in this process and you open your eyes, you really have a better understanding that, number one, 10 years ago, there weren’t any comps that a 5-foot-10 or 5-foot-9ish quarterback could not only play at this level and have success.
“Now that’s changed. We’re a business that really looks at comps and we try to sort of pattern things after what others have done.”
Tom Westerberg, Murray’s high school head coach, to 98.7 FM’s Doug & Wolf
“He’s been raised really well by his mom and dad. They’ve kept him grounded. He’s a humble kid. You got to get to know him before you really get to see who he is. He kind of keeps to himself a little bit, pretty private.
“If you go out to the practice field, he’s not a loud, boisterous — not that guy. I would say he’s pretty reserved if you don’t know him.”
“He definitely raises the level of play of people around him. It’s hard to be the guy with the ball in your hands and not be a leader and win the games that you win.”
Dan Orlovsky, former NFL quarterback and ESPN analyst
“Jim Nagy, who’s a long-time scout (formerly with the Seahawks) … told this story where he was with the Chiefs and they sat in a room a couple days before the draft and said, ‘What don’t we like about Russell Wilson?’ And everyone said, ‘Nothing but three inches.’
“Is that the case with the Cardinals and Kyler Murray? Like, what don’t you like about Kyler Murray other than three inches of his height, because if that’s the case, you have to learn from history.”
Former Washington and Philadelphia director of pro personnel and current ESPN analyst Louis Riddick to The Rich Eisen Show
“I think he will be (the first pick) because of who’s picking number one overall, unless they get out of there. Is he the number one quarterback, my top-ranked quarterback? No he’s not.
“I would take Dwayne Haskins all things being equal.”
Bucky Brooks, NFL Network draft analyst to Doug & Wolf
“Kyler Murray is a new-school quarterback, a dual-threat play-maker who is a refined pocket passer, but is devastating and explosive as a runner. You don’t throw for 4,300 yards and rush for a thousand yards at Oklhaoma without being a terrific play-making threat.
“He has all kinds of arm talent, he has exceptional quickness and burst, he is a guy who is a proven winner. He has won everywhere he’s been from high school to college on. I think that follows him.”
Charles Davis, NFL Network draft analyst to Doug & Wolf
“I’ve always, during this draft run, I’ve had Dwayne Haskins ahead of Kyler Murray, but it’s a hair’s difference. Like, I did a thing where I said, here are 31 guys who I think deserve a first-round grade. I think I had … Haskins at 10 and Murray at 11, or Haskins at nine and Murray at 10. Somewhere in that neighborhood, they’re right there with each other.
“Size won for me, the ability to play from the pocket consistently won for me. Not that Murray can’t do that.”
Charley Casserly, NFL Network analyst on air after the combine
“He better hope Kingsbury takes him number one because this was not good. These were the worst comments (from a combine interview) I ever got on a high-rated quarterback and I’ve been doing this a long time. Leadership, not good. Study habits, not good. The board work, below not good. Not good at all in any of those areas, raising major concerns about what this guy is going to do.”
Lincoln Riley, Oklahoma head coach in reponse to Casserly’s comments while on The Dan Patrick Show
“I just hate that people go out, makes these comments and you never even talk to the two people that have actually coached this kid. You never talk to teammates. You went off what one team said, which is probably a smokescreen — knowing how this draft deal works with all the different back and forth. But this kid — Kyler was a tremendous leader for us. A tremendous leader.
“Very aggressive. Very important to him. All he cares about is winning. And I think our team took on that personality without a doubt. And as far as processing offense, he just had the greatest single season in the history of college football, so I think he can process just fine.”
Nick Saban, Alabama head coach on Sirius XM NFL Radio
“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.”
Dan Bickley, 98.7 FM host in a column on ArizonaSports.com
Murray is fighting powerful stereotypes and NFL types conditioned to cover their behinds. If his destiny is to blow the roof off the NFL, giving Kliff Kingsbury the quarterback he always dreamed of, he has to get there first. As for the doubters?
The proof is in his quickness, his vision, his accuracy and his twitchy, lightning-fast release. All the proof you need has already been shown on the football field.
Yes, the Cardinals should draft Murray with the No. 1 overall pick. He is more a quarterback than Josh Rosen. He is perfectly suited for Kingsbury’s offense. He would be playing for a head coach that has zero doubts in his ability, and that will go a long way when an undersized young man walks into an NFL locker room, tasked with proving himself to grizzled veterans.
NBC Sports NFL columnist Peter King to Doug & Wolf
“The last thing I would say: even though he ran for 1,000 yards at Oklahoma, they were almost exclusively on designed runs. He threw 89 percent of his passes from the pocket last year. He only threw 41 balls on the run last year.
“I’m only making those points because … he’s not the running quarterback. This is a good pocket passer.”