Kliff Kingsbury got his wish.
Six months after saying he’d take Kyler Murray with the first pick in the draft, the Cardinals turned their new head coach’s proclamation into prophecy by selecting the former Oklahoma quarterback with the No. 1 overall pick on Thursday to open the 2019 NFL draft.
"I'm blessed to be here. ... I'm ready to go. No matter what the situation is, I'm a winner. I'm ready to go," Murray told NFL Network.
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In Murray, the 2018 Heisman Trophy winner who accounted for more than 5,000 yards of offense and 54 touchdowns, Kingsbury finally gets the player he began recruiting as a college coach some eight years ago. Kingsbury started reaching out to Murray when the quarterback was a sophomore at Allen (Texas) High School, where he would go a perfect 42-0 season as a starter.
“It’s more what don’t you like,” Kingsbury said of Murray during the NFL owners’ meetings in the Valley last month. “When you watch him play, he can run it, he can throw it. He’s a competitor. He’s one of the better dual-threat players to ever play.”
About the only thing Murray is missing is a lack of ideal height. At 5 feet, 10 1/8 inches, Murray becomes the shortest quarterback selected in the first round of the draft in more than 50 years. That didn’t stop him from dominating at the college level, however, as Murray passed for 4,300 yards and 42 touchdowns in addition to rushing for 1,000 yards and 12 more TDs.
He was only intercepted seven times and, despite his smallish stature, only had five passed batted down at the line of scrimmage all year.
“A lot of undersized quarterbacks don’t have the arm strength. He does,” said Doug Flutie, who despite being 5-10 himself, spent 13 of his 22 professional seasons in the NFL.?
Kurt Warner, the former Cardinals’ quarterback and a two-time NFL Most Valuable Player as a member of the Rams, believes Murray is the real deal.
“What makes him a franchise quarterback is that he can do everything,” Warner said. “He’s got all the pieces you want.”
Murray was also selected No. 9 overall by the Oakland Athletics in the 2018 Major League Baseball First-Year Players Draft.?
By selecting Murray, the natural question now is what do the Cardinals plan to do with Josh Rosen, whom they drafted with the 10th overall pick out of UCLA just a year ago.
The Cardinals have listened to offers from teams about Rosen but apparently are likely holding out for a first-round pick in exchange for the quarterback, should they even decide to deal him. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that the Cardinals have only had conversations with two teams in the past month about Rosen – the Miami Dolphins and the New York Giants.
One of those teams or possibly a couple of others such as the Washington Redskins or New England Patriots could make a play for Rosen before the end of the first round Thursday? night. It’s also possible Rosen could be dealt at some point during the second and third rounds on Friday or during the final day of the draft Saturday.
“Whatever decisions are made, it’s my duty to prove them right if they keep me and prove them wrong if they ship me off,” Rosen said recently during an interview with Sports Illustrated.
Cardinals General Manager Steve Keim had said he would consider taking either one of the draft’s top two highest-rated prospects in former Ohio State defensive end Nick Bosa or former Alabama defensive tackle Quinnen Williams at No. 1. Keim also said he would entertain offers to trade out of the top spot to stockpile more picks in what is a very deep draft class this year.
No trade scenario presented itself to make the Cardinals consider trading down and Murray was just too tempting to pass. The Cardinals became the first NFL team since the Baltimore Colts (1982-83) to draft a quarterback in the first round in consecutive years.
The expectations with the dual-threat Murray is that he can become the Cardinals’ version of Russell Wilson, the star quarterback of the NFC West Division rival Seattle Seahawks. Murray has said he patterns a large portion of his game after Wilson, who has provided him some mentorship.
“I’ve got to talk to him a couple times and it’s good to have him in my corner as a resource,” Murray said of Wilson at the NFL combine in Indianapolis in March. “Obviously, I look up to him and watching him do it at 5-10 and kind of putting doubters to rest, it’s a good deal.”?
Wilson was a third-round pick in 2012 and to this day, Keim still laments passing him over because he couldn’t find the right player comparison to Wilson.?
“And I was wrong,” Keim told NFL writer Peter King in 2016. “When I think back now, it was a chickens?— call by me. I didn’t have the balls to take Russell Wilson.”
He did this time in Murray, but how difficult was it to pass on Bosa and Williams for Keim and the Cardinals? Either player would have been a massive upgrade to Arizona’s defense, particularly in pass-rushing situations and stopping the run, where the Cardinals struggled mightily during last seasons’ 3-13 campaign. Kingsbury had previously referred to both players as “can’t-miss prospects” who are sure to become stars at the next level.
Arizona hopes to turn more heads during the second and third rounds on Friday when it picks first in each round – 33rd and 65th overall. Possible positions they could target there include wide receiver, offensive line, cornerback and possibly an edge rusher or defensive tackle.
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This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Arizona Cardinals take Kyler Murray No. 1 in NFL draft
Related slideshow: 2019 NFL Draft: The Top Picks (Provided by imagn)