Since the final game of the 2018 NFL season, when the Arizona Cardinals suffered a defeat to the Seattle Seahawks, Arizona have been in possession of the first pick of the 2019 draft.
While draft prospects often come out of nowhere to become household names in April, I truly doubt that anyone watching that game would expect the Cardinals to have spent the last few months flirting with the idea of picking Kyler Murray, the two sport prodigy from Oklahoma – a quarterback often labelled too short to make it in the NFL with their number 1 selection. While Murray is clearly an exciting prospect, it is the eagerness to give up on a player who quite frankly had no chance last year in Josh Rosen requires further attention.
It could be fair to say that Josh Rosen was thrown in the water before being ready to swim last year. Cast your minds back a year, and his selection with the number 10 pick (given to them criminally cheap by the Oakland Raiders) was lauded as a steal, as Rosen was the most pro-ready QB in the draft.
Nicknamed ‘Chosen Rosen’ by those who followed his career at UCLA, many thought that he was unlucky to fall so far, and could have been a worthy selection with the first pick of the draft. While he was the fourth QB taken (behind Mayfield, Darnold and Allen), it could be argued that he may had gone to the best situation, as he did have a Pro Bowl running back in David Johnson, a future Hall of Famer in Larry Fitzgerald and the opportunity to back up a former number one pick in Sam Bradford.
While the Cardinals were not expected to be a playoff team, they had some interesting pieces to build around. The decision to hand the reigns to Rosen was made early in the season, with the rookie entering the third game of the season against the Bears. Rosen went on to start the next thirteen games as the Cardinals signal caller.
What that season entailed was a year which included more interceptions than touchdowns, maddening play calling and an incredible forty-five sacks. The offseason brought on a change of coaching staff too, with the offensive minded college coach Kliff Kingsbury replacing the dour Steve Wilks. While it could not be said that Rosen played particularly well last year, it could be argued that his situation did not help him at all, similar to how Jared Goff was thought of in his freshman year in the NFL.
With this upcoming pick, it could be fair to say that Rosen would be expecting a potential weapon to assist him in growing as a player. However, the reality has been vastly different than that, as the common consensus throughout the NFL landscape has stated that the Cardinals look set to choose Murray as the future face of the franchise.
Murray is an interesting enigma rising up the boards from the draft experts early in the process. Refusing the opportunity to join the MLB’s Oakland Athletics as their first round selection to commit to football, many felt that he was taking a potential risk due to his perceived slight size and experience. In addition, many analysts questioned whether teams should choose Murray if he slipped down the board, due to his alternative, lucrative option. A chance comment made in 2018 while at Texas Tech by the future Cardinals first year coach Kingsbury, in which he said that ‘he would draft Kyler Murray first if he could’ sent the NFL media into an interesting frenzy, as now fate had decided his new team would be picking first.
While this flirtation with the idea of picking Murray could be deemed as a well-thought out ruse to attract supposed QB needy teams such as the Giants and Raiders, both with significant draft capital to spare, the persistence of the narrative that Kingsbury wants Murray to lead his offence still continues.
If this talk is accurate then the desire to land Murray must be extremely intense, as the selection would mean bypassing on potential generational defensive talents such as Nick Bosa and Quentin Williams, or trading down the board to strengthen a squad with various needs. Furthermore, it would be a momentous thumbs-down on Rosen, who was paid a large signing bonus after his selection last year. While we cannot know what the choice will be until the early hours of Friday morning UK Time, it would be a surprise to many if Murray is not the choice.
Therefore, we can only question where Josh Rosen will end up if Kyler Murray is to don a cap with the Cardinals logo atop of it. While the Redskins, Chargers and Patriots have been rumoured to be interested, there will be a significant lack of leverage for the Cardinals to draw upon, as their determination to give up on Rosen so quickly cannot be hidden.
It is pretty unheard of for a QB with an acclaimed work-ethic like Rosen to be discarded so quickly, therefore the decision from the Cardinals front office must be scrutinised before the clock starts running. Either way, like many NFL drafts of the past, the 2019 event will be engrossed with stories and subplots throughout the evening and be a vast source of entertainment for the viewer.