RC’s lead in: Ross Jacobs asked to interview/discuss with me the Kyler Murray situation because he did not feel Murray to Arizona was likely and, thus, the impact of Murray not in Arizona on his fantasy prospects. We free-styled back and forth on email, going where the conversation took us. This interview took place after the Combine and ended a few days ago. A lot of words 8K+ of them, in my quest for you to waste a lot of time at work reading about your favorite thing – football/the NFL Draft/Dynasty drafts, etc. We moved fast, and typed a lot – so, forgive any typos/punctuation things. OK, on with the show…
Interview of RC Fischer by Ross Jacobs – A Kyler Murray #1 Draft Pick Debate
The football world was recently set ablaze with stories that the Cardinals will be doing something unprecedented come April: dumping their 1st round top 10 pick QB after one year and drafting a new, radical QB #1 overall. The reason for the excitement is obvious. The prospective new QB is an undersized, highly athletic Heisman trophy winner who would be teaming up with an Air Raid college coach in the NFL. I believe this story-line is the most important development for the NFL and fantasy football in our lifetimes for a multitude of reasons. We could be on the doorstep of seismic changes in football strategy, team building, scouting, and much more, all depending on the results of a single draft selection come April 25th.
RC and I are often in lock-step when it comes to football thinking. This time, however, is different, and he and I have come to different conclusions about how this story is going to end. Because the result matters so much, I have invited him to debate/discuss this topic with me, and hopefully we can go farther in-depth on the subject than anyone else in the football world.
ROSS: So, there are a ton of angles I want to cover eventually, but it's probably best to start off with the fundamental question: Will Kyler Murray be drafted by the Arizona Cardinals? You've written for quite some time about the possibility, and I completely understand the logic. In fact, I agree that it is the correct decision to make if you value winning football games. Murray is a dynamic weapon the likes of which the NFL has never seen, and I think he provides game breaking ability that Josh Rosen does not. There are some sunk costs the Cardinals would need to incur, but you can't be afraid of selling a losing stock if you want to win. However, after a ton of research I don't actually believe that the Cardinals will pull the trigger. I'm going to present my argument for why I think this first, and then I'll address the rampant speculation and rumors afterwards.
First, it would be absolutely unprecedented for the Cardinals to dump Rosen after one year. I can't think of a single case where a 1st round QB was traded and replaced by a new 1st round QB a year later. Obviously, it can happen, but until it does, the odds are against any radical changes. The NFL as a whole is particularly slow when it comes to adopting new trends or ideas.
Second, even though I agree that it is worth dumping Rosen despite trading a 3rd and 5th round pick to move up for him, Cardinals management might not. This is a team that just finished 3-13 and was lucky they weren't 0-16 with how poorly they played. They have a TON of holes to fill, and from one line of thinking drafting a QB isn't going to plug those holes. Murray would still be coming into a garbage team with a leaky defense and an offensive line that can't block anyone.
Third, I disagree with your assessment that 31 other teams would take Murray right now over Rosen. In fact, I believe almost every team would prefer Rosen for a few reasons. 1) Murray is not grading as highly among many scouts as Rosen did last year. Here's what Daniel Jeremiah has to say about it.
“In terms of grades — the grade I had on them coming out (of college) and not what they’ve done (since) — I had Darnold with the highest grade, then it was Rosen, then it was Mayfield,” said Jeremiah, a former college quarterback and college scout for the Eagles, Browns and Ravens.
“Then I gave the same grade to Allen as my fourth quarterback last year as I gave to Kyler Murray this year. They would be tied for No. 4. Then Haskins would be behind them and Jackson would be behind him. That would be the order I have stacking those guys in with last year’s class based purely off the grade.”
2) Teams realize that you need to build around Murray, and many of them don't want to completely change up their schemes and personnel to a completely new style. Whether this need to change is true or not, many teams believe it. Here's what Walterfootball has to say about it.
I've spoken with a couple of general managers and some area scouts about Murray, and they all have him graded in the second round. That being said, plenty of quarterbacks graded for Day 2 get selected in Round 1. All of the sources were in agreement that an offense would have to be changed and built around Murray. They all said that he will have to play out of the shotgun. And at 5-foot-9, he is too short to be under center and do quick passing off of three-step drops. Thus, the offense is going to have to be built around Murray and he is not a quarterback who can be plugged into any NFL offense. That also presents some problems for his pro team in finding a backup quarterback who can execute the same plays. Therefore, it is going to take a team that is willing to commit to Murray and go all-in on building the offense around him.
Fourth, Steve Keim has been quoted before as saying you don't draft a QB in the 1st round unless you believe in him 100%. Unfortunately, the link I had to the interview seems to be broken, but that's the essence of what he said. I don't believe he's going to want to move on from a guy he still believes in for another unproven rookie, no matter how talented.
Fifth, one of the reasons I've seen for the Cardinals drafting Murray is because "he's a perfect fit for Kingsbury's offense." What? Josh Rosen ran the Air Raid at Cal! (Edit: I don’t know why I said Rosen played at Cal and ran the Air Raid. Must have been thinking of Goff. UCLA was pro style. Still doesn’t change the fact that Rosen is a great fit for the Air Raid. I don’t know where this stuff about him being a poor fit and Murray a perfect fit comes from. It’s just blatantly untrue.) And let's take a look at all the Texas Tech QB's over the years: Kliff Kingsbury, Graham Harrell, Patrick Mahomes, Seth Doege, Baker Mayfield, Taylor Potts, Davis Webb...how many of those guys are known for being athletic running QB's? The Air Raid has never been a system that required a mobile QB. Far from it. Instead, passers need to be smart and accurate, two qualities Rosen is well-known for.
And finally, the rumors that have been floating around. Until yesterday there was nothing linking Murray to the Cardinals other than speculation about supposed "scheme fit", some throwaway comments Kingsbury made about a tremendous competitor back in the fall before Kingsbury had to play against him, and two words by the GM that everyone is possibly misinterpreting. Watch the video clip of Keim instead of reading "for sure, right now." He isn't answering the question the way it was asked. Obviously, the reporter was asking about Murray speculation, but Keim answered as if the reporter was asking about Rosen vs the other QB's on the roster. "Yes, of course Rosen is the starting QB right now." "Right now," is not referencing some future time in which Rosen might not be the starter. Now the curious thing that changed yesterday was a report from Tony Pauline that Kingsbury was telling people outright that they were taking Murray. "It's a done deal." My question is, since when has a head coach just started telling everyone around him what they would be doing a month later? Occasionally we know ahead of time who an organization will take if there's one standout player like an Andrew Luck, but that's very rare. Usually there's a mix of 2-3 players that people argue about, and we only find out in the last week or so who the selection will be. Last year everyone went back and forth on Darnold or Allen until the day of the draft! And how would the Cardinals know they want Murray right now when the combine isn't finished, and they haven't finished evaluating the class? The only way is if they are 100% locked in on Murray as a generational talent and nothing can convince them otherwise. Not likely. And if that was the case why not just announce your intentions publicly? No, if Kingsbury is telling people this then the far more likely scenario is that the Cardinals are trying to drum up trade interest for the #1 pick. They see a deep class of 4-5 top defensive linemen at the top of the draft, would be happy to have any one of them, and so they'll happily trade down a few picks, take whoever falls to them, and recoup some of their draft picks spent on Rosen to help build around him.
I've got a laundry list of reasons why I don't think Murray to the Cardinals is happening, but I'm curious if you have anything to add or retort to what I've said. I know you are fascinated with the idea, but until yesterday it seemed like you had settled on the idea that it wasn't going to happen. Did you get any information that helped change your mind other than the Pauline report?
RC: Before I give my reasons why Murray goes to Arizona, I will respond to your state's evidence items, so we don't get too many things going at once. Note...I would not bet my life on it, but based on my past few days, I think it is happening. I don’t know for sure. And I have reasons, but I'll save that.
To respond to some of your very valid points...
-- First, it would be absolutely unprecedented for the Cardinals to dump Rosen after one year. I can't think of a single case where a 1st round QB was traded and replaced by a new 1st round QB a year later.-
The Cardinals have made two pretty radical moves the past few months. They fired a head coach after one year...that takes a lot of something to do. It's very rare, almost unheard of -- they pulled that trigger. To follow that up, you would think they'd go safe...Mike McCarthy or some spawn of Sean McVay. They went so far outside the box it doesn't make any sense, really, to hire Kliff Kingsbury. Two radical, major decisions. The Cardinals have shown, of late, you can't go 'by the book' with them. The NFL, mostly...the Cardinals...venturing into the bizarre, a fine line between radical and lunacy. So, I think they have the ability, the gumption to do something radical on Murray-Rosen.
-- To your WalterFootball quote of: I’ve spoken with a couple of general managers and some area scouts about Murray, and they all have him graded in the second round. That being said, plenty of quarterbacks graded for Day 2 get selected in Round 1. All of the sources were in agreement that an offense would have to be changed and built around Murray. They all said that he will have to play out of the shotgun. And at 5-foot-9, he is too short to be under center and do quick passing off of three-step drops. Thus, the offense is going to have to be built around Murray and he is not a quarterback who can be plugged into any NFL offense. That also presents some problems for his pro team in finding a backup quarterback who can execute the same plays. Therefore, it is going to take a team that is willing to commit to Murray and go all-in on building the offense around him.—
Everyone graded Murray in the 2nd-round or later. Why? Because he was too short and some worried about his football commitment. Everyone was wrong then. Your quote has them whining about him being 5'9" and changing the offense around...he's 5'10"+. Traditionalists complained that Russell Wilson wouldn't make it back in the day for the same reasons. Then Mayfield was too short. It's literally the dumbest argument in sport. How many 5'10"-6'2" QBs have to dominate the league over 'the tall guys' before we stop with this nonsense?
Change the offense? Who the hell cares? The Ravens are being lauded for changing their offense for Lamar Jackson. Was Seattle and the Matt Flynn offense ready for Russell Wilson to show up and take over Week 1? The offense has to change to Kingsbury anyways, so change is happening regardless of the QB in 2019. Rosen has to change his style as well (if he's there).
The backup QB fitting? Where the hell have they been the past 100 years of the NFL? What NFL team has drafted a backup QB similar to their starter, and done it right? Especially with the highly mobile. RG3...and Kirk Cousins. Michael Vick...and Nick Foles. Colin Kaepernick...and Alex Smith, then Blaine Gabbert. Deshaun Watson and his trusty backup Brandon Weeden? Why is this such a BIG monster for Arizona with Murray, and not the other 31 teams? It's not. It's always a mess in the NFL.
-- Fourth, Steve Keim has been quoted before as saying you don't draft a QB in the 1st round unless you believe in him 100%.--
Great...what if he believes in Murray 100%...or 101%?
The comments about the right fit for "The Air Raid' offense is not about finding a mobile QB...that's the thing being undersold. Kyler Murray is the best, most natural passer in this draft as well. It's just we all worry about things not related to that...his height, weight, passion, etc. You'd rather have Murray run this style than Drew Brees or Tom Brady...because Murray grew up in this era/style. If Kingsbury says Murray is his ultimate QB...why would they settle for less when they could have it all?
ROSS: The Cardinals absolutely have made some fairly radical moves. Keim brags rather often that he's not afraid of making risky/outside-the-box moves. Teams do occasionally. I still think that dumping a 1st round QB after one year is a little out there even more the most courageous of NFL GM's, but this is definitely a great point. If some team was going to make a crazy move like dumping Rosen for Murray, you're absolutely right it would be the Cardinals before anyone else.
It's definitely true that the 2nd round grades on him had some to do with his size and commitment to football, and he did answer those questions. However, a quick check around the internet finds that nobody but you have him rated as the best player in the draft. Many are mocking him #1, many believe he's a perfect fit for the Cardinals with Kingsbury, but no one that I've seen actually thinks he's the best player. Mostly there's a bunch of 10-20 rankings, and he's very often ranked behind Haskins at very least. Walter even has him 4th behind Jones and Lock as well. I'm not arguing that those rankings are correct. I fundamentally believe they are very wrong. IMO Murray is the most dangerous, impactful player in this draft. What I am arguing though is that perception is reality in some sense, and most people perceive Murray to be a middle of the 1st round player at best, and inferior to each of the top 4 2018 QB's, and that's not because of the height thing.
For most people that actually cared about his height he passed that bar at the combine. There are a few hardliners that still won't draft him because of it, but mostly nobody minds. He's still not being rated a top 5 overall prospect. As for changing the offense, yes, the Ravens are being lauded for it, but that's the point. That shows that NFL guys actually think it's a big deal to change the offense for these mobile QB's. Yes, Murray is a far better passer than Lamar (although many scouts might not agree with us how far), but they do still think he needs to be in a shotgun only offense with lots of spread option concepts. It definitely would be less of a transition for the Cardinals since they are making an offensive change anyways, but it doesn't matter if they don't draft him. My point is that the consensus opinion of him is that if you take Murray you are limited in certain ways because he doesn't fit every scheme. It doesn't matter if all these guys are right or wrong. They believe these things and will build their teams because of their beliefs.
The backup QB thing is complete garbage I agree. No team I can think of has ever followed that logic other than Seattle goofing around with some of their backups for Russell recently.
As for Keim's belief in his QB, the argument is he's already proven he likes Rosen by taking him, whereas no matter how much you like Murray he's still an unknown in some sense. NFL GM's still think the draft is half mystical and that rookies are unpredictable quantities. Listen to Keim talk about how "scouts rarely miss on a guy's ability, but they miss much more often on his makeup." (That's not an exact quote, but I've heard him say essentially that before). These guys truly believe they are near perfect talent evaluators and that they only miss because of unforeseeable circumstances. That's why so many coaches, especially before Jimmy Johnson in the 90's, would trade away entire drafts for veterans. They believed that rookies were unpredictable, and you couldn't know who would be a good player, but veterans were completely known and thus valuable.
As for the style argument, I think you're missing that we're the only ones that believe Murray is the best pure passer in this class too. Nobody else thinks this. They like Haskins and Jones and maybe even Lock better. It's the mobility that the rest of the world thinks makes him a fit for Kingsbury. And since when has Kingsbury said Murray is his ultimate QB? Even back in October all he said was he was a great player and he would take him #1 based on that. He's never said anything about Murray's fit in his offense, at least as far as I'm aware.
The thing I keep coming back to when going over your argument is that it all makes sense...if you share the belief that Murray is a weapon of mass destruction and it's worth it to sell out for that. You and I share that belief, but where I think you get a little off base is that very few people outside of FFM believe it. There are certainly people that think Murray to the Cardinals is a great idea, but it's all based on some imaginary "scheme fit" thing and not because of Murray's raw talent. Of course, none of my arguments about "other people" mean anything if Keim, Bidwill, and Kingsbury agree with us. That was why I was convinced Mayfield was going #1 last year. It wasn't because he was the best and so anybody would see it and make the move. No, I think if anyone but John Dorsey or Belichick had that pick it would have been Sam Darnold going #1. It took a very particular set of circumstances for Mayfield to go #1 because he was widely viewed to be the 3rd or 4th best of the available QB's. It's possible those same circumstances exist this year, and Murray found his only perfect match right at the top of the draft, but I still don't think so. I am very interested to hear why in particular you think this is happening. The only thing I know of that's changed other than pure speculation is the Pauline report. It sounds like you've heard something I haven't, and that intrigues me very much.
RC: Kingsbury-Murray runs deeper than the comment that KK would take him #1 if he was in the NFL. Kingsbury recruited Murray hard to try to steal him from Texas A&M to go with him to Texas Tech and they've been friends/friendly sense...not just 'know of each other’ but connected. This, the Kingsbury push of Murray as 'he'd take him #1' comment. They have a relationship, which adds fuel to all this.
In January, all the mainstream analysts were wrong about Murray, per usual. Drafting then, he's top 100.
After the Combine, they've adjusted to top 20.
It won't be long before they move Murray to the top. Like the absolute lemmings that they are...as soon as things break towards Murray, they'll all start to follow.
I'm not predicting Murray to Arizona based on today's sentiment. I am predicting the sentiment change to come into the NFL Draft.
Things that have changed my mind on Arizona as the #1 spot with Murray...
The Combine = Murray doesn't come in and measure, and then do nothing...he doesn't 'big-time it’ if there is something he has to prove. Darnold didn't throw because he thought he was locked in. Mayfield was still doubted everywhere and went to the Senior Bowl and threw at the Combine. Murray has all this cloud of intrigue and questions over him. I think he only skips it all only if he knows he's golden...my opinion.
Cards meeting with Murray at the Combine = If I heard it right, it wasn't just the normal attendees at the Murray meeting...one or two Bidwell's flew in special to be at the meeting.
Rosen-to-Washington = I believe that's a real discussion. Look at what Arizona could do...They could wind up with Murray and a mid-1st-round pick (or mid-2nd) losing Rosen in the process. What an upgrade deal! I don’t think any deal will be announced until close to/at the draft. I think Arizona wants to milk the intrigue, put the spotlight on themselves (good for business), and then rock the world. A trade will be agreed to prior and kept quiet until the right time. The Redskins are desperate, and this would be perfect for them.
Now, this is all still speculation. Nothing would shock me with Arizona, but you have Kingsbury and a possible generational talent QB in your hands...it's too perfect not to pull the trigger on. Murray has given nothing but reasons TO take him the last week or two. If he was 5'8"/180...then maybe the Cards pass, but Murray is proving everyday he's the generational talent...just waiting for the always-late football media to catch up.
ROSS: I hadn't heard that the Cardinals meeting with Murray was with the Bidwill’s. That's definitely intriguing. And I definitely believe Washington was interested in Rosen too. However, I don't think they ever actually spoke with the Cardinals about it. I think it was just them pondering out loud because they are idiots and never hide their intentions (almost as bad as the Jets). Since the reports about the Washington/Rosen link I have heard that Washington is currently talking to the Dolphins about Tannehill and they are interested in Lock. Rosen is a better option/deal than any of those guys. If he was available, then you make that call and get a deal done. You don't go sniffing around other QB's. And I don't think the Cardinals would get a 2nd round pick for Rosen, because the second they try to shop him they lose all leverage. Everyone will know without a doubt what they are doing. Who is giving up more than a 3rd in that situation unless a bidding war breaks out? That's not happening either, not with the way the QB market is shaping up. The media still thinks teams are starved for QB's, but you and I know that's not true. I'm honestly not sure how 4 guys are going 1st round this year. Word was yesterday that Foles indeed looks like he'll be headed to Jacksonville. The Giants are fine with Eli for now. The Dolphins are waiting on next year. Who is taking all these QB's??
Also, obviously all your points are very good. This isn't a massive story for no reason. There are tons of very logical, reasonable connections for this to happen. As you said, this is a perfect storm. A perfect storm for Keim to trade off the pick in what's considered an otherwise weak QB class. I think the Cardinals are using the media to help them fuel interest in the #1 pick.
Think about it. All these signs that supposedly prove Murray is going to Arizona...wouldn't they be the exact same signs if the Cardinals were trying to feign interest and trade the pick? Nobody is trading up for Williams or Bosa. Teams only trade up to #1 for QB's and Haskins isn't pulling that kind of interest. Keim is radical, but he's not RC/Ross radical. Hiring Kingsbury isn't that crazy (just stupid). The Jets wanted him too, and since when does Maccagnan do anything radical? It's no more radical than signing Zac Taylor. I just don't think Keim will make this move. He has the ability, but I truly believe he's committed to Rosen. He wants to build this team up now, and spending another top pick on a QB when he's already got one he's happy with would seem like a waste. Why take Murray and pass up a blue-chip defensive lineman and bevy of picks from someone trading up for a QB. The only way is if Keim thinks Murray is miles ahead of Rosen. He might think that, but I don't think so. Besides, there's still a lot of doubt about Murray. The media might ultimately decide he's the best player, but they might not. I'm still seeing articles like this (link below) cropping up. Remember, this is the second time he's been called out for bad interviews, and it also mentions questions about his ability to read defenses. You and I may shrug these things off, but it doesn't mean NFL GM's will.
We both definitely agree Arizona is the best place for Murray, but I want to take this another direction for a second. If Murray doesn't go #1 to Arizona, let's say nobody trades in for him and the Cardinals just sit there and take Williams or Bosa, where's the next most logical landing place for Murray? I've got my own thoughts on this, but I want to see where you stand.
RC: He's a terrible interview, I'll grant you that. He couldn't be worse than Lamar Jackson...so there will be teams overlooking that.
I do think the next piece of news/rumor will be Arizona looking to trade down...to throw more confusion into this. It's going to be a month of bad reporting and people playing the media and the media going for clickbait...like on the Le'Veon Bell situation all last season.
I don't think OAK makes the move -- they go pass rusher and they have too many old school coaches to take Murray. Washington won't because Jay would like Colt McCoy better. If Arizona passes...Murray could fall because there is nowhere to go, per se. Cincy and Carolina would be my wild card thoughts on landing spots. If he fell and fell and fell...New England could be in play. But if he falls out of the top 20, then him going to baseball is back in-play in 2019 or 2020+. The more Murray falls, the more Arizona could jump back in and take him and just have a QB competition.
I just feel like Murray skipping everything at the Combine is the sign of a guy who knows something...or is totally dumb. One way or the other, at #1 or #5 or #10...I think Murray goes to Arizona with or without Rosen there.
Just think of how Arizona could rule this draft... They keep a tight lip on things. Everyone is watching that 1st pick...the highest-rated draft rating ever...will they, or won't they? Pre-draft talk is all Arizona. The clock starts to tick. They take Murray...people go bonkers and then go bananas trying to figure out the Josh Rosen situation. The rumors fly minute to minute as Arizona tries to make a deal. All the talk is about Arizona on the highest rated day. They could play this thing like a fiddle and suck up all the press -- the Cardinals would be relevant for the first time in a while.
ROSS: The Cardinals could milk it, but we’ve seen other teams in similar situations at the top of the draft and they never do. Keim is worried about building a team not selling tickets. Bidwill might, but he doesn’t have enough sense to know how to balance everything.
I’m sure by now you’ve seen the Casserly comments about Murray feedback. It goes deeper than just he’s a bad interviewer though. Teams have some legit questions about how hard he’s going to work and his ability to lead a team. The kid is a natural talent at football, but he hasn’t figured out the “other” stuff, and as much as we like to think football ability is all that matters, it’s not. He’s like the Nuke character in Bull Durham in some ways. The closest comparison I can think of in the NFL would be Cam Newton. Murray is an even better player than Cam in my opinion, but he’s going to have the same questions about how much time he’ll put in, can he learn to read defenses, etc. I honestly thought Cam had more personality questions than Murray, and it didn’t stop him from being the #1 pick so that’s something. My whole point though, and it seems like you agree, is that this isn’t Andrew Luck. The whole league is not in lockstep with this guy. There are limited available suitors, and if the Cardinals don’t take him, Murray may be in for a long night. I would not be surprised if this was another Johnny Manziel situation on draft night.
It’s interesting the three teams you mentioned because those were the same names I was looking at. The media immediately goes for Miami, but I think they are skipping QB this year. Cincy could definitely take a look. The Panthers might if the new owner gets involved, but I doubt Rivera wants to go that direction. They want and expect Cam back, even if it’s next year.
The Raiders though...I’m not sure. I think Gruden loves him honestly. If it was just Gruden, then I would say the Raiders would be my next choice. But Mayock throws a kink in that because he’s very conservative. He’s not going to like the personality stuff, he’s not going to want to take a QB yet when there are so many other holes, and he might be a tampering force holding Gruden back. Maybe. What if Gruden starts pushing? Is Mayock going to back down to avoid an early rift? He seems like the type to try and compromise with Gruden, but I’m not sure.
I’ve got a surprise team though, and that’s the team I first mentioned to you a month ago...the Giants. Gettleman is a very easy guy to figure out in most cases. He doesn’t trade, he likes “football players” regardless of size, and he will take whoever he thinks is the best player available regardless of position. If Murray is not there at 6 then I don’t believe they will take Haskins, not if there’s one of the top D-linemen available. He’ll ride Eli for another year or two and wait if he has to. But if Murray is on the board at 6, Gettleman could be sitting there thinking “he’s smaller than I’d like, but he gets the job done and he scores points.” And who was it that drafted Cam #1 despite the leadership and personality questions? Dave Gettleman.
RC: Cam Newton and Lamar Jackson undermine fears of 'the interview'. This time last year, Mayfield was too brash and uncontrollable to be the trusted face of a franchise. All the 'face of the franchise' coaches are long since fired or about to be fired for not having a QB that can get them to the promised land. I think there are enough new mindset guys who want the immense talent in Murray, and just like with D.K. Metcalf -- they'll teach him how to catch and run routes (so they think). Murray will be drafted, and they'll teach him how to be a 'face' (so they think). Jameis Winston could not embarrass a franchise more as the face of a franchise from his off-field to his on-field, and yet he'll picket $19M this year to play football.
All the negativity on Murray right now, makes me feel like I'm right -- he's going to Arizona, or at least there is a fear of it. You spend time destroying the top guys right now, in the media. Murray is ruining their Dwayne Haskins coronation.
Marcus Mariota could not have been anymore 'nice' and 'polished' and yet crab leg stealing, woman assaulting in word and deed (allegedly) Jameis Winston went #1 -- and Mariota was not even allowed to be ranked ahead of Winston that year, or you were an idiot...and Winston sucked (for a top prospect) on and off the field. Remember when Carson Wentz was that natural leader the Eagles needed to pay up for to draft? Now, we find out a lot of people don't really like him, and the one true leader QB of the Eagles was just cut loose...so, pardon me if I think all the 'leadership' needs of a QB talk from the NFL is a bunch of bullshit, as acted out by the NFL daily.
Like with Cleveland last year, we just need Arizona to believe and go oppo the media.
I think when Jon Gruden runs his mouth that hard about a player...he's not doing it because he wants him. I would think the people who want Murray are mum (Arizona) and the ones who are just pot stirring run their mouths (Oakland). No brothers who think Christian Hackenberg and Colt McCoy are legit NFL QBs are pulling a trigger on Kyler Murray. Their precious playbook won't allow it.
This has to be a Kliff Kingsbury or Zac Taylor move...guys who don't deserve to be HC's but that may be the reason they succeed is because they are not infected with the NFL virus passed on by coaching trees, etc.
I swear, if Murray falls in this draft to New England...
Any football management team who continues to back Eli with no real Plan B for two years, I'm not thinking Murray appeals to them -- as Pat Shurmur sets his plan to draft his son :).
ROSS: I agree that the leadership stuff is overblown. What seems to happen is that if a guy is good enough and starts winning then suddenly the leadership issues disappear. If he sucks and loses then it's "see he can't lead." Either way just because you and I think it's unimportant doesn't mean the rest of the league does. They still value this kind of thing, and it could hurt Murray here.
To me Kingsbury isn't the issue though. If it were solely up to him, he might do it, but as you detailed in your piece on him, he's probably just a Keim pawn at this point. He was brought in almost exclusively to help Rosen develop in my opinion, and that's all he's really going to do. But you bring up Zac Taylor and that's an interesting line of thinking for me. Is it possible he has the power to take Murray in a franchise that doesn't seem to have a driver? I'm going to dig up some Bengals info today and see what I can find about who is running things. I'm not sure if drafting Murray is feasible for them with Dalton's contract, but then I didn't think Flacco's was either.
If he falls to New England...we know McDaniels was the one that wanted Tebow. If Belichick wants to turn it over to McDaniels in the next year or two this might actually happen. I truly believe the Patriots wanted to trade up to #2 last year if the Browns hadn't taken Mayfield, so I could definitely see this. Wow, you'll be glad you bought Murray in a rookie draft if that happens.
RC: They say they value 'leadership', but they really don't. It's what they are supposed to say. They value winning/staying employed and beloved. Why are there teams trying to get Antonio Brown if 'locker room' is so important? (1) Because they arrogantly think their locker room is different and they can fix it with magnificent 'culture'. (2) They really don't care because it's 'Antonio Brown'. Exceptions are made for the people they want to make it for. Kareem Hunt, Tyreek Hill, etc., are welcomed right into the league. The Saints signed Dez Bryant mid-season last year. I don't care what they say about 'leadership'...I follow their actions. And their actions say they will do anything to cut a corner to win.
I really thought Kingsbury was a pawn, but he must have convinced them this is the way to go. Imagine if Arizona trades Rosen to NYG for a mid 2nd...and Arizona walks out of this with, essentially, Rosen out, Murray and (with that pick) N'Keal Harry, Arizona high school and college star, in.
Belichick wanted in on Mayfield if he fell, because everyone was trying to talk him down last year. I think Belichick would see the talent of Murray and thank everyone very much for the gift. However, if Murray doesn't go top 10, he'll go back to baseball...so the point is moot.
Murray knows he's going to Arizona...so, he can blow off those 15-minute Combine team meetings, etc., with short, disinterested answers. All the 'losers' (whatever teams met with him) on not getting Murray are now going to tear him down...in part, hoping to make him fall somehow...others just being sore losers that a college kid has so much leverage over them -- they hate that. That, in part, was why they hated Mayfield...and will always hate Mayfield.
ROSS: You make some really good points about how often teams make noise about virtue and morals and principles and then turn around and completely ignore those things when it comes to building their football teams. The media will make more out of that than the teams will I'll grant you.
So, let's say for arguments sake that Murray doesn't go to Arizona, but you don't yet know where he'll land. Do you still take him highly in rookie drafts? I think you still do because at some point, even with an awful coach/offensive coordinator, Murray is going to string together a couple of multiple TD, high rushing or passing total games, and you'll be able to flip him for something safer if you aren't convinced his output is sustainable with his current team. He's too good to be held down forever, although it wouldn't surprise me if some bad coaches ruined his career. I know RGIII had some other issues, but if Kyler had a similar career trajectory would that really surprise you?
RC: He winds up on Oakland, and then they trade Carr...or he ends up on Washington, and beats out Keenum-McCoy quickly? I'll say he's still of high interest for me. If to Cincy or Carolina to be behind entrenched starters...then I’m not happy and may hesitate to draft him the farther he falls because he could walk right back to baseball.
I still stand by my...Murray + Kingsbury -- Rosen = Kyler-mania will begin in the fantasy rankings when it is a reality and experts will put him top 10 for the dynasty rookie draft.
ROSS: I completely agree with your assessment. His potential makes him of high rookie draft interest for me too, although we may not see it pay off for a while. He's not as safe as I normally like, but the ceiling is so damn high I think you have to roll with it, Arizona or not.
So, one interesting angle here is, if Arizona or Oakland take Murray, they probably aren't getting much for Rosen or Carr because you can't trade them before you draft Murray, but the second you draft him everyone knows what's up and your leverage disappears. I'm also really skeptical that Mayock will get on board with dumping Carr when they could use that #4 pick on a "premium" player. Mayock loves taking so-called "blue chip" players in the top 6-7. Gruden will have to push hard if he wants Murray.
Washington makes some sense, but it would mean eating Alex Smith's contract, although who knows if he'll ever play again. I think the Redskins definitely draft a QB this year, but not sure this particular Gruden will go for Murray. Remember, he wasn't a fan of RGIII at all.
With Jacksonville making a sizable commitment to Foles, and the Giants looking like they might pass up a QB, where are all these supposed 1st round QB's supposed to land? 2-3 of them at minimum are going to end up as backups for teams that already have an older starter like the Patriots, Saints, and Chargers. It also means that 2-3 of them are going to fall into the 20's or out of the 1st round. I've seen some mock drafts with all four guys in the top 15. There is no way that happens. And I definitely don't think it’s a lock that Murray goes top 10 either. He won’t fall too far though because someone like the Chargers will come up around 10-12 at latest if he’s still there. Even if his eventual team puts him in a similar situation to Russell Wilson though it’s mostly fine. And because there’s only one ideal situation I think it’s safe to say we need to expect a lesser situation is where he’ll likely end up and prepare accordingly. We all want Arizona, but if it doesn’t happen I would recommend people not panic or be dismayed. Murray can still be an excellent fantasy player. Think of Vick’s 2010 season to get an idea of what Murray is capable of. And that was with Andy Reid.
RC: Here's the thing with Murray... If he falls out of the top 10, then jumping to baseball goes firmly on the table. The contracts and options for picks #1-10 in the NFL is a different world. He starts fading to #15+ we start getting to easy for him to quit football any time and go to baseball. If he falls, he's going to really fall...and the more he falls the more likely he skips football and goes to baseball right away.
The most likely scenario now...draft Murray, keep Rosen a la Cousins-RG3...wait for a QB injury and make a sale at the right time. I do like Rosen to NYG as the trade destination, though. The Eli understudy.
ROSS: Holding onto Rosen sounds good in theory, but what kind of problems is he going to cause if he just gets benched like that for the hot new rookie? You can say he’ll be fine because he needs to play nice to land his next job, but nobody is going to blame him if he isn’t the best teammate in a situation like that. Didn’t stop the Raiders from taking AB. I know Rosen is no AB, but he’s still seen as a young, potential franchise QB. He isn’t going to be treated like mincemeat just yet.
I do agree that the Giants are the obvious candidate to trade him to. If this is going to happen then that’s where I’d place my money.
And to be clear I do think there’s a decent chance Murray does go to the Cardinals. My two sticking points are I don’t think it’s the most likely situation, and I don’t think it’s “a done deal.” No matter what happens in a month, Keim has not decided yet. It’s on the table, but it’s not 100%.
Another angle I’d like to cover is if Murray going to the Cardinals could be trend-setting. Would this be the true beginning of a stream of high mobility but accurate college passers that finally open up the pro game? Is the NFL about to undergo the transformation we saw in college after Matt Jones, Vince Young, and Pat White broke the doors down around 2005-2006? Because that opens up some questions about the future of fantasy scoring. If the top NFL QBs are going to start dropping college-like numbers then that means they are going to be head and shoulders better than any other position for fantasy purposes, and FFM readers will want to be in on the ground floor of a change that enormous.
RC: It may or may not be a trend. Michael Vick wasn't. It could be as simple as Kyler Murray is a freak and the opportunity has presented itself and it may be once in a decade combination of talents...and it is what it is. You can't 'make' Kyler Murray's...the thought of it shows how entrenched 'coaching' is beat into our football psyche.
Sure, if Murray becomes a star...everyone will be looking for their 'next Kyler', which means any 4.5 runner-passer will be hot prospects for a year or two, and then it will fizzle. Kyler is a generational talent that doesn't get the label because he's too short for old-school thinking, which still dominate NFL scouting despite it being proven a wrong-headed notion for years.
Oh, and signing Brett Hundley...the forerunner of the perfect backup, stylistically, for Kyler Murray, and thus the trade away of Rosen for whatever they can get. 'Winter is Coming' on the Arizona QB overhaul...
ROSS: Didn't you say earlier that GM's never cared about having a backup QB with the same style as the starter? ;) Seriously though, signing Hundley is certainly very interesting to me, and I think it's one of the best arguments for evidence that the Cardinals may actually take Murray.
As for the trend discussion, I'm not saying there will be a flood of athletic QB's as talented as Murray. I don't think there's any way to know that right now. What I'm actually wondering is if Murray's success with this offense in the NFL might accelerate the NFL's adoption of college schemes. If the college game continues to invade the NFL, one consequence of that could be the devaluation of the need for elite QB's. It doesn't take a Brady or Rodgers to run college offenses. Now that's not an argument that NFL offenses are better. Actually, I think that coaches should use the simplest possible schemes that produce the best results. NFL offenses are quite possibly needlessly complicated. By simplifying the offense, they could reduce their reliance on having to find and acquire those rare beings that can process all this information at light speed and deliver the ball with pinpoint accuracy while getting smashed by 300lb behemoths. If your offense doesn't have such high requirements at one position, you can afford to save money at that position that can be used to strengthen other valuable spots such as pass rusher, cornerback, and offensive line. Instead of being forced to pay $100million+ for anything even close to an elite QB, you could continually find and replace your starter for far cheaper. If you look at the college game, the teams winning the championship every year almost never have elite QB's. Now there's really no good reason that I can see why the pro game hasn't already gone this direction. Fear is probably the biggest reason. So, it will likely take an incredibly talented individual like Murray for the NFL to see the benefits, but once teams accept that this type of offense is viable, you won't have to have a Kyler Murray to run it. My argument then is that if Murray goes to the Cardinals and flourishes, that could lead to the acceleration of the adoption of college offensive schemes by the NFL, which in turn will lead to the devaluation of traditional QB's. Kyler is the stepping stone, not because of his talent because that's not replicable, but because he could open coaches’ eyes to the possibility of offensive options that don't rely so heavily on highly skilled QB's. It won't be a fast transition, and it may not happen at all, but I'm going to be watching this very closely because this is the same pattern that took the college game by storm 15-20 years ago.
RC: I see what you're saying, and I would say the litmus test of that will be Lamar Jackson more than Kyler. Murray is his own special-ness...can't duplicate him (or so we'd think, but maybe more coming). But if LJax can succeed with his limitations...then we may be about to change at the NFL level more.
*We cut if off here because 8,000+ words was enough, for now!*
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