The veterans have scattered for the summer, and so has Darren Urban. I’ll be doing a guest mailbag this week as training camp edges closer. Darren will be back with a mailbag next week, and you can leave questions for it here.
From Rance Winters, via azcardinals.com:
“Can you see the Cardinals running RPO on at least half of their plays if they're down by a few scores early in a game?”
The choice to use an RPO (run/pass option) generally won’t be determined by the score, but when it comes to usage, yes, I do think there will be a heavy dose of it. Quarterback Kyler Murray is the prototypical maestro. He ran them in college and knows when to hand the ball off and when to throw it. Murray also adds a third wrinkle: he can tuck the ball and run because of his electric speed. Every offense wants to put stress on a defense, and the RPO game seems like a perfect fit for Kingsbury and Murray.
From Jesse Arrieta, via azcardinals.com:
“Barring injury, can Kevin White be equal to or a better WR than Isabella, Butler or KeeSean? From his college highlights, he looked fantastic. I am smelling the "best' WR Corp in the NFL if White can stay healthy.”
White was indeed fantastic in college, but he has yet to compile more than 187 receiving yards in an NFL season. Since White, Isabella, Butler and Johnson are all unproven at the professional level, it remains to be seen who will emerge. As a second-round pick, Isabella seems to have the inside track among that quartet. It’s probably too pie-in-the-sky to think this could be the best wide receiver corps in the NFL, but considering the youth of the group, even middle of the pack in 2019 would be promising for the future.
From Laird Delrosa, via azcardinals.com:
“Is it true that Murray knows the offensive game plans better than his coaches? If true, it must be a first.”
I think he’d be hard-pressed to know it better than the coaches, but Murray is definitely in a better spot than a typical rookie quarterback. He will run an offense similar to the one he captained at Oklahoma, which is much more desirable than learning a completely new scheme (ask Josh Rosen). With that being said, the windows close faster and the defenses are more exotic in the NFL. There is still expected to be a stark learning curve for Murray when it comes to mental processing.
From Bob Kitsos, via azcardinals.com:
“I realize the team doesn't have many options at this point, but how comfortable do you think management and Kingsbury are with Brett Hundley backing up Murray?”
They sought him out in free agency, so there should be a comfort level there unless Hundley didn’t perform to expectations in the offseason. I think the Cardinals would be thrilled if Hundley provides value similar to longtime second-stringer Drew Stanton. When Stanton was thrust into action, his numbers weren’t always pretty, but he kept the team competitive.
From Gary Shaw, via azcardinals.com:
“I am concerned about the quality of Depth at Middle Linebacker? Is Keim going to address this position with cuts from other teams?”
I also thought it might be a higher offseason priority, but the free agent signing of Jordan Hicks was the only major move. That seems to speak to the development of young inside linebackers like Haason Reddick, Dennis Gardeck, Tanner Vallejo and Zeke Turner. Vallejo was a waiver claim, and Keim will certainly keep a close eye on any released players. The Cardinals could also sign a veteran in training camp if needed, like they have done in the past with guys like Josh Bynes and Gerald Hodges.
It’s hard to compare them because the media is only allowed to report on a sliver of the action in the offseason. Even when we get to the games, I’d hesitate to draw any grand conclusions unless Murray is a supernova from the jump. We need a large sample size to judge both quarterbacks, and that will take time.
From Robert Malicka, via azcardinals.com:
“Have you seen the most recent alleged Top 10 Offenses of NFL history? What say you? If you notice, they are heavily weighted to teams of recent years. This is a sham for it's only rules changes that allow for offenses to be so prolific. The greatest offenses of NFL history should be recognized of during the era of before the hash marks were repositioned. To not mention the offenses of yesteryear is criminal, especially that the QB called his game? Think of the 'Cardiac Cards' or that of Coryell's protégé Jim Hanifan behind the 'The Juice.' They weren't even a championship offense? Come on, man!”
I’m torn on this one. I think it’s clear that the skill level of NFL players is higher than ever before, which would make the recent offenses the best. However, I see where you are coming from. It makes sense that an offense is compared to counterparts from its era. Football Outsiders accounts for this with its DVOA metric. For what it’s worth, the site did a post in 2014 estimating the top offenses, and while the 2007 Patriots led the way, there were top-10 offenses from the 1950s, 1980s and 1990s, as well.
I’m not sure on the exact percentages for the first two questions, but there are plenty of Keim draft picks playing key roles in the NFL, either with the Cardinals or elsewhere. As far as late-rounders, no, I don’t think it’s more important to nail depth picks as much as first-rounders. The biggest key, in my mind, is to find stars. Teams trade back because it adds to their pick allotment, thereby getting more chances at selecting impact players. Trading down has traditionally been a winning strategy, but that may have been because teams were overvaluing players they traded up to grab. Gone are the days a team will trade their entire draft to select Ricky Williams.
From John M., via azcardinals.com:
“How is the Cards kicking game looking? Will the Cards bring in another kicker to challenge Zane Gonzales?”
The field goal attempts weren’t open to the media this offseason, so it’s hard to speak on Gonzalez’s current level of play. However, the Cardinals did not do much to bring in competition, which is a great sign for his chance to be the guy when the season begins.
The most obvious question mark is at cornerback. Veteran David Amerson was expected to compete for a starting job during Patrick Peterson’s six-week suspension, but he was released last week. At this point, Robert Alford, Tramaine Brock and rookie Byron Murphy are the main candidates to play in nickel. The Cardinals should have a strong group once Peterson returns, but until then, the front office could be keeping a close eye on available options. As for specific names – if I knew the best candidates, I’d be working in the front office. Instead, I’m just your guest mailbag guy.