Cardinals Facing Kyler Murray Conundrum

Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray, who has been connected to the Cardinals at the No. 1 overall pick, is photographed after winning the Heisman Trophy in December
Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray, who has been connected to the Cardinals at the No. 1 overall pick, is photographed after winning the Heisman Trophy in December

INDIANAPOLIS – In 55 days, when the first round of the draft has come and gone, we will all look back and nod knowingly.

The clues are scattered everywhere here at the NFL Scouting combine, screaming to be pieced together.

In eight weeks, history will show that all this Kyler Murray talk was a ruse. The Cardinals spent a first-round pick on quarterback Josh Rosen just one season ago, and he can hardly be judged off a rookie year fraught with hurdles.

Unless, of course, in 55 days, the Cardinals draft Murray with the No. 1 overall pick. Then hindsight will show this marriage was predestined. After all, Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury explicitly said he would take Oklahoma’s star quarterback with the top pick in the draft in October, back when he was coach of Texas Tech.

April 25 is only 55 days away. April 25 feels a lifetime away.

“One of two things has happened, in my opinion,” NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah said. “The Cardinals have communicated with Josh: ‘Use earmuffs for the next couple months. We’re trying to drum up interest in this pick. You’re our guy. We’re committed to you. Don’t listen to anything you hear. Don’t listen to anything.’

“Or, Kyler Murray is your quarterback next year. Those are the two options. If you haven’t committed with Josh Rosen, I cannot recall in history a situation where you take a quarterback in the top-10 one year and the next year are vague, at least a little vague, in your commitment to a player, and you’re at the combine interviewing quarterbacks.”

Murray confirmed on Friday that he is scheduled to have an interview with the Cardinals in Indianapolis.

“To be the No. 1 pick, that’s a kid’s dream come true,” Murray said.

And Rosen’s status notwithstanding, it is easy to see why there is such hype around the Heisman Trophy winner.

In just one season as a starter at Oklahoma, Murray dazzled the college football world with Michael Vick-like speed and tremendous arm talent. He completed 69 percent of his passes for 4,361 yards, with 42 touchdowns and only seven interceptions. He ran for 1,001 yards and 12 touchdowns.

Murray is so supremely talented the Oakland Athletics took him No. 9 overall in last year’s Major League Baseball draft, only for Murray to return his $5 million signing bonus to play football. He said the baseball dream is dead and it will be football-only moving forward.

“I personally thought he might try doing both, like a Deion Sanders-type deal,” said Dru Samia, an offensive guard who blocked for Murray at Oklahoma. “He’s talented enough to do it.”

At 5-foot-10 and 207 pounds, Murray is small for a quarterback, but so are Russell Wilson, Drew Brees and Baker Mayfield. Former Cardinals coach Bruce Arians is a traditionalist who prefers pocket passers, but even he is enamored with Murray, brushing aside durability concerns.

“I don’t think you can hit something you can’t catch,” Arians said.

Murray is amused by all the focus on his size.

“I’m always the smallest guy on the field,” Murray said. “But I’ve said it multiple times: I feel like I’m the most impactful guy on the field and the best player on the field at all times.”

So there’s the case for Murray. But what about Rosen?

He was talked about in similarly glowing terms just one year ago, and if he is traded, the team is jettisoning a player with elite arm talent and polish; a player they dealt first-, third- and fifth-round picks to acquire. And it will be a move that adds approximately $8 million in dead money on their salary cap.

It’s a steep price, but one NFL Network analyst Charles Davis believes is not a dealbreaker.

“Can you get all that (draft capital) back?” Davis said. “The answer is no. You’re not going to get all that back. How much are you willing to (get in return)? I’m over-thinking it. If they think Kyler is better, they will likely take him.”

In 55 days, we will finally know if Murray is a smokescreen or the Cardinals’ new quarterback.

Images of the Cardinals at the NFL Scouting combine in past years

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