The Athletic’s QB tiers: Cardinals’ Kyler Murray still valued across NFL

Aug 2, 2023, 1:25 PM

Kyler Murray, Cardinals QB...

Kyler Murray #1 of the Arizona Cardinals runs the ball in front of Jordyn Brooks #56 of the Seattle Seahawks during the second quarter at State Farm Stadium on January 09, 2022 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)

(Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)

Whenever Kyler Murray returns from his ACL recovery, he will need to answer questions.

Are the narratives about his lacking leadership qualities fair? Or was the young quarterback simply that: A competitive dude put in bad positions situationally by his coach or daily by the general manager in charge of the roster talent?

The coach and GM are new. Murray has a clean slate to prove his arm talent and leadership can make him a top-10 quarterback.

To those in the NFL whose opinions matter, there’s still a high-quality starting quarterback in there if Murray can grow as a pocket passer coming off his knee injury.

The Athletic’s Mike Sando polled 50 NFL leaders, who placed NFL signal callers into five tiers heading into this 2023 season.

Murray ranked as the No. 13 player and was the first member of the third tier. It placed Murray just behind Cleveland’s Deshaun Watson and Minnesota’s Kirk Cousins in the poll.

“I’m anxious to see how he handles the ACL because when you are that electric, it’s kind of like the RG3 thing, where you wonder what is going to happen,” an offensive coordinator said. “The difference is, Kyler can really throw the football.”

“When he was healthy, he was the reason they were a playoff team (in 2021),” the lone voter who placed Murray in the top tier said. “It wasn’t because of their defense or special teams, or DeAndre Hopkins or a great run game. It was his ability to make plays. When a guy can take over games as often as he did, it means he is the franchise. The leadership part could knock him down.”

An offensive coach also questioned Murray’s development alongside veteran receivers that have shuffled through the Cardinals’ roster and now are on other squads.

“It is really weird when you are young,” this coach said. “What happens is those guys are naturally tougher on you. You can come off some type of way. Now, the work ethic stuff and the intangible part of the job, enough is out there where that is real. Kyler has to establish that with a fresh start, because on the field, I think he is a Tier 2 quarterback, if he is healthy.”

An anonymous NFL executive added that Murray must improve on giving up on plays that break down and that making winning throws from the pocket is the next step for the quarterback.

That reared its head for the young quarterback at different points throughout his career. Last season, his play fell off before the ACL injury, as Murray’s passer rating (87.2) ranked 23rd in the NFL.

Murray’s 2021 passer rating (100.6) ranked 11th as he dipped his toes in the MVP conversation halfway through the year. He was 22nd (94.3) a year before that in 2020.

Despite the dip in performance last season, Murray ranked ahead of New Orleans’ Derek Carr and Detroit’s Jared Goff in the poll.

The job descriptions of the 50 NFL employees polled by Sando included “eight general managers, 10 head coaches, 15 coordinators, 10 executives, four quarterbacks coaches and three involved in coaching/analytics.”

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