DAN BICKLEY

2023 NFL Draft is important 1st impression for new Cardinals GM Ossenfort

Apr 26, 2023, 7:07 PM

General manager Monti Ossenfort of the Arizona Cardinals answers a question from the media during a...

General manager Monti Ossenfort of the Arizona Cardinals answers a question from the media during a press conference introducing new head coach Jonathan Gannon at Dignity Health Arizona Cardinals Training Center on February 16, 2023 in Tempe, Arizona. (Photo by Chris Coduto/Getty Images)

(Photo by Chris Coduto/Getty Images)

The NFL draft is on our doorstep. The Cardinals own the No. 3 overall pick, an extremely valuable chunk of real estate, maybe even a lottery ticket that cuts years off an impending rebuild. 

And all I can think about is No. 1. How Devin Booker and Kyler Murray wear the same uniform number. They share the same city of employment. And that’s where the comparisons end.   

The Cardinals need more. After the NFL draft concludes on Saturday, they need their quarterback to step up, grow up and lift a fallen franchise. Just like Booker has done with the Suns. 

The transformation of the Cardinals officially begins on Thursday. The 2023 NFL Draft will commemorate a much-needed regime change in Arizona, where general manager Monti Ossenfort is currently juggling three valuable assets: the No. 3 overall pick, wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins and star safety Budda Baker.

All of them could be traded. Only Hopkins – one of the more selfish superstars to ever skate through Arizona – is clearly gone. Good riddance. You can put Hopkins on a really good team and absorb his manipulations, practice habits and willingness to quit on a team. But not on a rebuild. 

Alas, there is also a growing belief that NFL teams better understand the folly of moving up a few short spaces in the high rent district just to take a swing at a franchise quarterback. It didn’t work with Mitchell Trubisky. It didn’t work with Trey Lance.  Why would it work now? 

But sometimes, there is no greater folly than desperation. It causes NFL teams to do stupid things in search of a franchise quarterback. There is a chance Ossenfort will get the kind of offer that will validate all of the pain we collectively experienced during a 4-13 season.   

Just how prepared and how cunning is our new general manager? 

The next few days will determine a lot. Ossenfort might turn out to be a solid hire, a man who brought much-needed professionalism and a coherent philosophy to the job. Or maybe he’s a cutthroat savant ready to flip this team overnight. 

Either way, he will be an improvement over the shenanigans of a predecessor who fully enabled a meddling owner; domineered over a subservient head coach to the point of allegedly dictating playing time for his draft picks; and was a central figure in a cartoonish culture that angered players and disrupted conventional NFL hierarchy. The same guy now embarking on a media career by making light of it all. 

In the end, most of it will depend on Murray. Because he’s the franchise quarterback. He’s a polarizing figure consuming a big chunk of the payroll. And if he needs to be replaced in a couple of years, then we are just beginning a long, painful voyage. 

But if Murray is anything like Booker, he should be seething at the disrespect he’s been shown. At the liberties taken. At those who defended him publicly and smeared him behind his back. 

He will finally understand that greatness isn’t a gift. It’s a challenge. It’s a journey. It’s a path full of obstacles with no shortcuts. Murray must vow to give his life to football, at least in the short term. Just as Booker has done in the NBA, admitting his total sacrifice just the other day. 

Anything less won’t be good enough.

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2023 NFL Draft is important 1st impression for new Cardinals GM Ossenfort