PFF rookie rankings: Kyler Murray at No. 32, Jalen Thompson No. 41
Quarterback Kyler Murray helped spark excitement for the Arizona Cardinals offense in a way that hadn’t been prevalent in quite a few years.
Outside the Valley, though, there’s less enthusiasm for the rookie.
Pro Football Focus graded Murray as the No. 32 rookie in the NFL. This is the second-best for a quarterback behind Jacksonville Jaguars’ Gardner Minshew (No. 15), right ahead of Dwayne Haskins of the Washington Redskins at No. 33 and the New York Giants’ Daniel Jones at No. 34.
Murray had a PFF grade of 64.2, which was actually lower than Haskins (67.6) and Jones (65.7). Minshew’s grade was 70.3.
The Week 13 and 14 performances hurt Murray’s grade. In those losses to the Los Angeles Rams and Pittsburgh Steelers, respectively, he combined for four interceptions and 11 sacks with three total touchdowns.
“If it weren’t for back-to-back games (Weeks 13 and 14) that resulted in PFF overall grades in the 20.0s, the first overall pick would be far higher on this list. In fact, those two games were among the 10 worst by a quarterback in the entire 2019 season.”
But even with those two poor games, Murray had a strong season overall. He passed for 3,722 yards at a 64.4% clip with 20 passing touchdowns and four rushing touchdowns to 12 interceptions.
He was the second rookie and sixth quarterback ever to pass for more than 3,500 yards and rush for more than 500 in a season. He also set a rookie record with 211 consecutive passes without an interception.
Murray was selected as an alternate for the Pro Bowl.
Despite the low grade, PFF did have something good to say about Murray.
That being said, we saw a lot of positives in Murray’s play: he ranked eighth among the 32 starting quarterbacks in negatively graded play rate, and he dropped the fourth-most big-time throws on over-the-shoulder passes.
In other words, he avoided compounding upon mistakes and had a lot of accurate big-time throws. Those two bad weeks just dropped his PFF value.
Murray wasn’t the only Cardinals rookie on PFF’s list of top 50 rookie quarterbacks.
Safety Jalen Thompson also made the list of top rookies, coming in at No. 41.
Thompson, selected in the fifth round of the supplemental draft, played special teams the first three weeks before getting his first start on defense Oct. 6. He started nine games on the season and had an interception and fumble recovery.
Thompson impressed on the back end of the Cardinals’ defense, earning a 70.3 coverage grade across his 372 coverage snaps, fourth among all first-year players at the position. He was targeted 26 times on the year, but he only allowed one touchdown while intercepting one pass and breaking up two more.