Cash or Trash: Kyler Murray
Out with the new and in with the newer. The Arizona Cardinals have replaced their 2018 first-round pick, Josh Rosen, with their 2019 first overall pick, Kyler Murray. The controversial draft choice signifies another year added on to the Cards’ rebuild which started the year prior. Will Kyler give the fans hope of a quick turnaround and become the franchise player Arizona desperately needs? Or will the hasty changes spell doom for the franchise’s hopes of success in the near future? Let’s decide whether Kyler “K1” Murray will be cash or trash.
A Brief Background
Murray was one of the most electrifying stories that the sports world had seen in a while. In 2018, the Oakland Athletics selected Murray ninth overall in the MLB draft. He attended A’s spring training in 2019 and signed a contract with them, despite his intentions to pursue football. When the 2018 college football season began, Murray was the starter for the Oklahoma Sooners, replacing 2018 first overall pick Baker Mayfield. In his junior season, Kyler went on to throw for 4,361 yards and 42 touchdowns with a 69% completion percentage. He also rushed for 1001 yards and 12 touchdowns. Overall, Murray took the college world by storm, which resulted in him becoming the Heisman Trophy winner for 2018.
During the draft process, it was unknown whether Kyler would continue with his football career. Until January 14th, 2019 when Murray tweeted out that he would declare for the NFL draft. This set the NFL world on FIRE as tons of speculation came out about where he would be drafted. He was touted as possibly being the first overall pick or even falling all the way to the third round. As the draft neared, it was becoming more apparent that Kyler would be a top ten pick and was heavily pegged as first overall. On April 25th, 2019 the Arizona Cardinals officially made Murray the first overall pick. On May 9th, Murray signed a fully guaranteed, four-year contract worth $35 million with a $23.5 million signing bonus.
New Quarterback, New Team
As many fans would like to forget, the Cardinals finished the 2018 season with the worst record in the NFL. People might one day forget that the quarterback leading this team was Josh Rosen. Rosen was of course traded the day after Kyler was drafted. The former 10th overall pick now calls Miami his home and looks to be the Dolphins’ future starter. In exchange, the Cardinals got the 62nd overall pick (Andy Isabella) and a 2020 conditional fifth-round pick. Arizona had traded up to select Rosen back in 2018, which made the decision to replace him even more controversial. Nonetheless, Kyler Murray will be the quarterback of the future for Arizona, for now.
The Cards’ also made a couple of free agency splashes including:
OT Marcus Gilbert: Gilbert was acquired by way of trade with the Pittsburgh Steelers in exchange for a sixth-round pick, he should be a solid and consistent starter at right tackle for Arizona.
OG J.R. Sweezy: Sweezy signed with the Cards’ in the offseason after playing for the Seattle Seahawks for the majority of his career, he should be either a starter or provide good depth for the Cardinals.
WR Kevin White: Once a top draft pick, White’s injury-riddled career left him without a new contract once his time with the Chicago Bears was up. He signed with the Cards’ in the offseason and if he can stay healthy might be a very underrated signing.
Along with drafting Murray, the Cards’ loaded up their receiving core with more youth. Andy Isabella, Hakeem Butler, and Keesean Johnson will join the future hall of famer, Larry Fitzgerald. 2018 second-round pick Christian Kirk and the previously mentioned Kevin White will also be fighting for targets. They also added two offensive linemen, 6th round pick Lamont Gillard and 7th round pick Joshua Miles, both will look to add depth and compete for starting roles to a depleted O-line that could use the youth. They also selected tight end Caleb Wilson with the last pick in the draft. Overall, it’s very evident that they are building their offense around Kyler and are looking for these rookie relationships to carry on for a long time.
Early Impressions and Risk/Reward
As we enter training camp, Kyler has already been turning heads. Most people have used one word to describe him, accurate. Which is, of course, one of the best traits a quarterback can have. While we haven’t seen much of Murray, not even a preseason game, he’s been getting high praise from his teammates and coaches. Even Larry Fitzgerald, whose caught passes from 19 NFL quarterbacks, was impressed.
The upside of Kyler Murray far outweighs the downside. Kyler is a dual-threat player, as evidenced by his junior season at Oklahoma. He is a leader on and off the field and he is one of the best pure passers the NFL has seen in a while. The only complaint about Murray’s passing skills is his height and pocket awareness. While Drew Brees and Doug Flutie have both proven short quarterbacks can have successful careers in the NFL, it is an added challenge that Murray must overcome throughout his career. Murray also often makes poor decisions in and out of the pocket, including running prematurely and not finishing his runs with sliding.
A true athlete, Murray is a two-sport star, which may be both a blessing and a curse for the Cards’. If Kyler has a change of heart, he may return to the MLB and pursue a baseball career. While right now this doesn’t seem apparent, should he or the Cardinals struggle for too long, he may choose to try his luck in baseball.
So, after putting everything on the table, was the decision to draft Kyler Murray cash? Or trash?
Verdict: The Kyler Murray pick is CASH
Murray is the right quarterback in the right place at the right time. While Rosen was a costly pick to just trade away and the possibility of a baseball career exists. Murray’s tremendous skill and scheme fit outweigh every issue this controversy has brought. While Kyler does have some kinks to work out, they’re nothing a little adjustment and training can’t smooth out. Rosen would’ve likely under-performed in Kliff Kingsbury’s air raid offense so Murray is the better quarterback to have for the future. The young team assembled around Kyler should give Cardinals fans significant hope for the future even if the first couple years are rocky. Murray should start producing instantly and is the odds on favorite to win offensive rookie of the year. Kyler Murray and the team around him will turn the Arizona Cardinals into perennial playoff contenders for many years to come.
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