Number One in the draft doesn’t seem to equate to “Best Player Available”.
Fans voting in the SB Nation FanPulse survey overwhelmingly picked Nick Bosa as the best player in the upcoming draft.
Kyler Murray, widely expected to be the first player off the board on Thursday night, becoming the new ‘face of the franchise’ for Arizona, was beaten out in the polling by both Bosa and DT Quinnen Williams — and came in a distant fourth place in the poll, with “Someone Else” garnering 17% of the votes to Kyler Murray’s 9%.
It speaks to the value that the modern NFL places on quarterbacks that Murray seems to have turned the NFL draft on its head when he made it clear a few months ago that he planned to pursue a professional football career instead of playing for the Oakland Athletics, who selected him in the Major League Baseball draft.
Little Kyler Murray, considered by most people who knew his name prior to December to be too small to succeed in the NFL, has jumped to the top of the draft, if you believe the media reports.
Of course, the Cardinals brass said as recently as yesterday that they don’t know who they are going to pick, but, as everyone knows, it’s lying season.
*Note to self. Everything you hear for the next 2 weeks will be a lie. #NFLDraft— Daniel Jeremiah (@MoveTheSticks) April 6, 2019
It is tough to believe that, after months of work, Steve Keim and his team wouldn’t have figured out what they want to do. It seems almost criminal for the organization to have put Josh Rosen through the embarrassment of the past three months if they aren’t planning to draft Murray.
If they do what the media has widely reported for months they will do, and pick Kyler Murray to run Kingsbury’s ‘air raid’ offense, it will leave at least two tremendously talented defensive players on the board for the 49ers & Jets (or any team that wants to trade into the top 3) to choose from — players perceived by SB Nation readers to both be better than Murray.
It’s an odd situation for the Cardinals to be in; after all, this isn’t a simple BPA versus Picking for Need situation. The Cardinals have Josh Rosen, whom they traded up for just a year ago, dealing three draft picks to get in a position to take him in 2018. It’s hard to say that they need a quarterback.
But, having dumped Steve Wilks after a single season in favor of college offensive guru Kingsbury has put the franchise in the awkward position of needing to give the new coach the tools he feels he needs to succeed.
The odd part is that most experts proclaim that Josh Rosen is perfectly capable of running Kingsbury’s offense. Film gurus who compare the two QBs side-by-side seem to agree that there isn’t really any reason to pick one player over the other.
The Film Room Ep. 107 is now LIVE! This week's lengthy topic - Kliff Kingsbury, the legacy of the Air Raid, and why the Kyler Murray vs Josh Rosen debate doesn't really matter in the long run. Enjoy! @revengeofbirds https://t.co/V2rV7xZgSP— Brett Kollmann (@BrettKollmann) April 13, 2019
Why, then, would the Cardinals throw away draft capital to move on from a quarterback that they believed in enough to trade up for last year?
Why wouldn’t the franchise use the draft position they have now to add a transformative defensive talent with the first pick?
Falk played in the Mike Leach Air Raid system at Washington State, and while he is only one data point among all Air Raid quarterbacks, we can see how his target distribution more closely mirrors that of Josh Rosen’s at UCLA than Mayfield’s or Murray’s at Oklahoma.
The Air Raid offense can push the ball deep -- but it doesn’t always, and it doesn’t have to. The quick game is a huge part of Kingsbury’s Air Raid attack, which incorporates many of the spread RPO ideas that you currently see infiltrating the NFL, and which Rosen used at UCLA.
The entire situation seems to have been self-generated by Kingsbury’s public comments about Murray in recent months. Absent those comments, and the refusal of the Cardinals organization to quash media speculation about the team’s interest in Murray, there would have been no common-sense reason for the media to openly and continuously speculate about the franchise moving on from Rosen just a year after investing in him so heavily. Absent those comments, the Cardinals might not find themselves painted into the corner they currently find themselves in.
In short, if the Cardinals dump Rosen now, after having dumped Wilks at season’s end, giving up on both the head coach and franchise quarterback just a season after making an all-in commitment to both of them, it will represent a lost season and a uniquely bad set of decisions by the Cardinals franchise. If they go ahead and draft Kyler Murray first overall, they will be picking a guy that more than 9 out of 10 SB Nation readers see as no better than the third-best player available.
It would seem that Steve Keim would have a lot to answer for.
Of course, the Cardinals could still stun most people by picking Bosa, Williams or “someone else”.
But even if they don’t draft Kyler Murray and dump Josh Rosen, Keim will still have a lot to answer for.
If the Cardinals don’t pick Murray, it will be hard to reconcile that with the organization’s decision to allow Josh Rosen to publicly twist in the wind for the past three months with no public support from the coaching staff, front office or owner. How could Rosen ever trust the organization again?
Part of me hopes that the Cardinals have been laying the all-time most intricate smoke screen just for funsies and take Nick Bosa at No. 1. Correct mock drafts are whatever. Draft chaos is fun.— Dan Kadar (@MockingTheDraft) April 24, 2019
Personally, I don’t see how the Cardinals can possibly go forward with Rosen after hanging him out to dry so publicly, so I am assuming that Arizona will make Kyler Murray the No. 1 overall draft pick on Thursday night, and trade Josh Rosen on the best deal they can muster.
Whatever happens, it will be nice to finally turn the page in this months-long NFL drama.
The biggest questions hanging in the air right now have to do with which team Rosen will be traded to if the Cards stick with the Kyler Murray program, and what the trade compensation will be.
This should be an interesting weekend.