The NFL Draft rumor mill got popping with the announcement from Kyler Murray that he was taking his talents to the NFL, turning his back on the Oakland Athletics and focusing entirely on football moving forward. Not just because Murray is a likely first-round pick and an intriguing prospect for anyone looking at a quarterback of the short- or long-term future, but because Murray now has the same agent (Erik Burkhardt of Select Sports Group) as Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury.

Kingsbury is the same coach who called Murray, before they were ever connected by representation, “a freak” and said he would “take him with the first pick of the draft if I could.” This was also before Kingsbury ever considered the possibility he might be the head coach of the Arizona Cardinals in 2019 or that he might actually be worried about who would be drafted with the first pick in the 2019 NFL Draft.

But he is, and he does. And it would be irresponsible of the Cardinals to NOT consider the possibility of drafting Murray first overall if Kingsbury truly believes in his ability as a quarterback. 

Of course Arizona won’t actually talk openly about drafting Murray. It would be idiotic to openly talk about their interest in the former Oklahoma quarterback, for a number of reasons. 

One, you’re showing your hand in a draft where poker faces will be at a premium. Two, you submarine the value of current Cardinals quarterback Josh Rosen by doing so. Three, you would kill Rosen’s confidence moving forward.

The last part is exactly why the Cardinals came out in full force after Murray’s announcement and put their support behind Rosen

But the buzz is at least real, even if the actuality of the scenario unfolding isn’t. CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora joined the Pick Six Podcast on Wednesday morning — subscribe right here to get our daily football pod delivered to your phone  and listen to the full show in the player below — and said shortly after his reporting Monday night about Murray’s agent he heard from a team picking high in the draft about the connection.

“Within 20 minutes of me putting out on Twitter last night that he’d signed with Erik Burkhardt, I had a personnel guy picking in the top 10 texting me [asking] if that kid is going [first overall], is there already a thing with Kingsbury,” La Canfora explained. 

So there are NFL teams wondering if what Kingsbury said, along with the quickly-made connection with SSG, might actually be an impetus for a trade. JLC doesn’t see it happening.

“First of all, I don’t know what you’re going to get for Josh Rosen. Do I think there could be a scenario where maybe the Cardinals can trade down and if he’s still there wherever they trade down and maybe taking him? I guess maybe,” La Canfora continued. “I don’t think there’s any sort of wink-wink deal in place. I don’t think they would take him at 1-1 ahead of [Nick] Bosa and maybe some of these potentially transformational defensive players. I just don’t. I don’t know what you’re going to get for Rosen at this point. You talk about selling low on somebody.

“I don’t see it happening. I don’t.”

Rosen had a bad year in 2018. No doubt about it. If you asked the average fan/commentator to rank the rookie quarterbacks from last season, there’s a pretty good chance that Rosen is the last guy on the list. I think that’s an overreaction to a rough situation. Rosen was the most pro-ready guy by a lot of counts, but he was also in a disastrous situation. Mike McCoy’s offense was incomprehensibly bad; the fired OC refused to incorporate David Johnson in the passing game for some reason. Maybe Byron Leftwich will be a good coordinator in the future when he can utilize his own offensive scheme, but his promotion didn’t help matters much.

Neither did the fact that the Cardinals offensive line, by the end of the year, was the worst in football. You can’t ask a young quarterback to play in a bad system with minimal weapons and no protection. It’s not fair. 

If I’m a team out there in need of a QB at some point in the near future — the Dolphins, Raiders, Chargers, Patriots or Giants maybe? — I’d be blowing up Steve Keim’s phone to find out if he does want to trade Rosen. 

One other problem with a possible deal, as La Canfora noted: the Cardinals would be passing up a potential blue-chip defensive prospect by giving away Rosen and taking Murray No. 1 overall. There’s no guarantee Murray will end up being better than Rosen, and if you sacrifice Nick Bosa (assuming he comes close to matching his brother Joey Bosa’s production) to do so, that would be a massive gaffe. 

There’s time for Murray to change everyone’s perception. Baker Mayfield wasn’t considered a likely candidate to go No. 1 overall when the 2018 offseason kicked off. 

“This process hasn’t really started for him yet. Who knows?” La Canfora said. “If he looks to be so far ahead of everyone else when they’re throwing in shirts and shorts and they’re making these visits to these teams.”

And there’s also the fact that the NFL produces storylines that movie producers wouldn’t believe are real. All of this is happening with the backdrop of Antonio Brown growing the world’s weirdest mustache and demanding a trade from the Steelers on Instagram. Anything is possible in the NFL. 

“It’s a crazy league and crazier things have happened,” La Canfora said. “But, boy, you just traded up to 10 to get Rosen. You had him for one season with two coordinators. You had nothing really around him. You were the worst team in football. I don’t know. I have a hard time thinking that they bail on that kid right now.”

So what does this boil down to? The Cardinals would need to fall head in heels over love with Murray during the draft process and become completely convinced Murray is worth the No. 1 overall pick and that he would be a better option for Kingsbury’s offense than Rosen. 

Along with all of that, the Cardinals would need to discreetly find a buyer for Rosen, preferably one with a high draft pick, because selling Rosen for peanuts and taking Murray No. 1 — and passing up on a stud defensive player in the process — isn’t a palatable option. 

I’m of the opinion that if you took Rosen’s 2018 season off the board and threw him in this draft class as an actual quarterback prospect with no NFL experience, he would be the top choice in this draft. He was the fourth quarterback taken in a loaded class, still going 10th overall to Arizona when they traded up with the Raiders to snag him. 

Trading him isn’t very viable because of the logistics involved. But it’s not impossible, and there’s enough noise surrounding the situation with Kingsbury and Murray that the Cardinals might not be able to completely get away from the rumors until they actually make the first overall selection in the 2019 NFL Draft and it’s not Kyler Murray. 



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