Kliff Kingsbury smiled.
He had been asked if he felt like every word he uttered about Josh Rosen, Kyler Murray and/or the Cardinals’ No. 1 overall draft pick had been dissected.
“I don’t feel that way – I know that,” the Cardinals head coach said Tuesday morning, during the annual coaches breakfast at the NFL owners meetings being held at the Arizona Biltmore.
It took a few questions before the quarterback situation was broached, but eventually, Kingsbury was asked about it from countless angles. For those looking for clues, Kingsbury gave little. There was plenty of praise for Rosen, the Cardinals’ incumbent quarterback, and there was plenty of praise for Murray, the potential quarterback target when the Cards select first in next month’s draft.
Mostly, Kingsbury insisted the Cardinals were no closer to a decision than the previous times he had spoken on the subject.
“We’re still in the information-gathering process,” Kingsbury said, noting that the team’s draft meetings are scheduled to begin next week, as the coaches and scouts return from various private workouts and pro days. “I’m not sure when that decision (about No. 1) will be made – it’s my first time through it – but there is a lot to talk about.”
Asked if the organization’s stance had changed from early in the offseason, when Kingsbury had declared Rosen “our guy” as quarterback, Kingsbury said the Cardinals simply need to be thorough.
“That’s a pick that can change your organization for many years to come,” Kingsbury said. “If you’re not doing all your due diligence possible, then I think it’s a mistake. (GM) Steve (Keim) and (president) Michael (Bidwill) feel the same way.”
Kingsbury reiterated the strengths he sees in Rosen – the toughness in getting through the end of the 2018 season, the footwork, the arm strength, the intelligence.
He has had a chance to reach out to the 2018 first-round pick, although he declined to get into the details of their conversations. With the first pick comes “tons of chatter,” Kingsbury said, and any quarterback or coach better understand the circus that comes with such jobs in the NFL.
Not that Kingsbury is worried that Rosen could be derailed by such talk.
“Have you been around Josh?” Kingsbury said. “I don’t think he needs help with the confidence factor. He’s a confident young man, and that’s what you love about him. He’s got very thick skin. All of this kind of falls off his back and he’s ready to go prove what he can do.”
Kingsbury also got a little animated when asked if there was a misconception that Rosen could not fit into Kingsbury’s offensive concepts.
“No question,” Kingsbury said. “People have said a lot of things that are misconceptions, if you will. But Josh is a tremendous player, I’ve always thought, watching him at UCLA. He played his best football in a spread system, some similarities to what we do. He’s a tremendous thinker, very cerebral, can throw it with anybody, and we take a lot of pride in building a system around a quarterback. For someone to say he doesn’t fit our system, it doesn’t make sense.”
Murray certainly sounds like he’d fit. Having known Murray and Murray’s family for so long, with Kingsbury having recruited Murray in high school, Kingsbury acknowledged there isn’t a lot he still needed to learn about the Oklahoma product.
Keim is just getting to know the players, however, and that plays a large role in whatever direction the Cardinals might go.
Kingsbury said he can see some Michael Vick in Murray in terms of his running explosion. But he also noted that Murray is a better drop-back passer, the kind of thing Kingsbury noticed when recruiting Murray all those years ago.
“He is one of the better dual-threat players to ever play,” Kingsbury said.
A decision to keep Rosen as the starting quarterback means the ability to use the No. 1 pick at another position, which in this year’s draft figures to aid the defense. Kingsbury called both Ohio State pass rusher Nick Bosa – an outside linebacker if he were to play for the Cardinals – and Alabama defensive tackle Quinnen Williams “can’t-miss prospects.”
Those are also players who are getting private meetings and workouts. At least at this point, the No. 1 pick isn’t just about quarterback.
“You have to get all the information, you have to meet with all the players, and then you’ve got to get the best answer you can come up with,” Kingsbury said.
Images of Cardinals cheerleader Ashlea from the 2018 season