Kyler Murray's toolbox of athletic traits is undeniable, but he's not quite a master craftsman.
The offseason is a helpful time for young quarterbacks to get hands-on tutelage, and coach Kliff Kingsbury is crossing his fingers it happens over these next few months.
"I wish that last year I would have got him in the offseason, and it still remains to be seen what kind of access we're going to have to him this season," Kingsbury said. "It's nice to have unlimited time, whether it's offseason or in-season, where you can really get deep into the weeds of the quarterback play."
The entire NFL offseason was virtual in 2020 due to COVID-19, and it remains to be seen if vaccinations will be widespread enough to allow for in-person practice time this year. Kingsbury believes Murray's continued development is critical.
"I want to make sure we continue his progression, make sure we are taking the next step," Kingsbury said. "To be able to do what he's done from Year 1 to Year 2 without an offseason, I'm excited to see where it heads next. I think we all know the talent is immense, and he has a chance to be as good as anybody in this league."
Murray improved across the board statistically from his rookie season to his sophomore campaign, and earned a Pro Bowl berth for his performance. However, the numbers dipped in the second half of the season, which coincided with a team slide that left it a tiebreaker short of the playoffs.
The trust in Murray is still high, as defensive end J.J. Watt pointed to the young quarterback's presence as a chief reason for signing with the Cardinals.
Upon agreeing to a two-year deal, Watt sent a text to Murray which read: "I'm here because I believe in you."
Kingsbury is certain that type of message got Murray's attention.
"It's motivational, there's no doubt," Kingsbury said. "Kyler is very confident. Kyler knows what he can be in this league and what he can be moving forward. But to have a guy like that kind of validate it and say, 'Hey, I've watched you, I know what you have brewing out there, I know what you can be,' a guy with probably limited years left in his career and wanting to win a championship and chooses the quarterback, that's pretty impressive and that's really high praise."
Murray wouldn't be the only young player on the team to benefit from an in-person offseason.
Second-year linebacker Isaiah Simmons was thrown into the fire last year without the benefit of rookie camp, OTAs or minicamp. This year's draft class will be in the same boat if the teams don't convene until late July.
But for the Cardinals, the development of Murray may be the single most important facet of a successful 2021 campaign, and time to concentrate on the minutiae would be beneficial.
"With Kyler it's just continue to master your craft," Kingsbury said. "This is a position that you're never going to reach perfection but you're going to work towards that. It's the little things each and every day – consistency each and every day."
The top images of QB Kyler Murray in 2020