Arizona Cardinals general manager Steve Keim should be sending a thank you note to a few of his peers between rounds of the draft. Because if not for the extremely aggressive selections made by Oakland GM Mike Mayock at fourth-overall and by New York Giants GM Dave Gettleman at sixth-overall, a lot more attention would have been paid to exactly how backwards the past 12 months have been for Keim.
From the moment Keim moved up – haphazardly – to the 10th overall pick to select Josh Rosen a year ago, until now, you could not have concocted a better script on how to devalue and derail a rookie quarterback, and make bizarre NFL history at the same time (drafting QB’s in the top 10 in successive years). It’s really too unthinkable to be true when you consider the unreal set of circumstances it took to reach this point:
- Go through a long and winding and drawn out coaching search to land on Steve Wilks, eventually, who was raw and unproven, and whose defensive scheme ran counter to what the only real talent on an overall poor roster did best on that side of the ball, and then put together a makeshift, underwhelming staff around the rookie HC.
- Trade up for Rosen, with seemingly no conviction, simply because he was the fourth of the “big four” first-round QBs still on the board at pick 10 (which Oakland had been shopping for weeks) a year ago after Baker Mayfield, Sam Darnold and Josh Allen had already been picked. Oh, and doing all of this after already wasting about $20M on quasi-QBs Sam Bradford and Mike Glennon in free agency.
- Get yourself arrested for extreme DUI and have the rookie head coach and QB go through their first training camp while the guy who picked them is suspended.
- Concoct an utterly woeful offensive line despite taking a QB in the top 10.
- Have to play Rosen way before anyone there hoped, because Bradford was Bradford and Glennon was Glennon (duh), oh, and have him do it while making an offensive coordinator change in October, with the second guy having never called plays before! Good idea!
- Get Rosen systematically beaten and bruised all season long behind said line, give him zero chance for success and, after considering it at various points in season, let Wilks go to hire a dude who could not win in the Big 12 with a generational talent at QB.
- Manage to have the worst kept secret in the history of the world, with reports all over the place shortly after Kliff Kingsbury’s hire that Kyler Murray would be the 1st overall pick. By the time Murray clearly shuns baseball and goes to the combine, everyone in the football world knows he is the first-overall pick.
- Put out lame tweets and statements quasi-supporting Rosen, make half-hearted overtures about trading him (you already have very little leverage because of the Murray situation). Refuse to just hold an auction and trade Rosen to the highest bigger, send out smokescreens and fake news before the draft that almost no one bought, and then wait until a few minutes before the draft officially starts to truly get real about dealing Rosen.
- Go home Thursday night having not come close to getting a 2019 first-round pick for Rosen (double-duh!) because everything in steps 1-8 actually happened and the entire league knows it and no one is going to bail you out of this one as they have smelled blood in the water for months and will get this young asset as cheaply as possible. … Which brings us to today and what absolutely must be the 10th and final step in this ridiculous process to erode the value of a 22-year old, top 10 QB.
- TAKE WHATEVER YOU CAN GET AT THIS POINT AND SET JOSH ROSEN FREE. It was never going to be a first-round pick. Call the Patriots, Bengals, Dolphins and Chargers in particular and send an email to every GM saying Rosen is going to be dealt before the first pick tonight for the best deal possible. Grab whatever picks you can in the second/third round, don’t drag it out or try to get cute, wish him well and spend every waking minute providing the support and infrastructure to Murray that Rosen never received. Don’t make Rosen have to look like a bad guy here by not showing up for mini camp. Don’t whisper anything negative about him, ever. Just move on.
Saying all of that, it’s far from too late for Rosen to turn all of this into a positive, as sitting behind a guy like Tom Brady or Philip Rivers wouldn’t be bad at all, and no matter where he would go to actually play – except for Miami – he would have a better cast of talent around him. Personally, I continue to think the Bengals make the most sense.
Numerous members of the Rams organization – where Bengals rookie coach Zac Taylor just came from and whose offense he is bringing with him – believe Rosen would be a great fit in it, and a better fit than current starter-in-limbo Andy Dalton. Rosen would be a tremendous bargain and cheaper than a second-round pick. The glare in Cincy won’t be bright at all and they have some elite speed and talent on that side of the ball and, perhaps, the offensive line is finally improving with Jonah Williams now in the fold to.
Regardless, it’s time to end this charade.
Day 2 QB watch
So far the quarterbacks have gone just as I expected. Had long linked Murray to the Cardinals and Dwayne Haskins to the Skins and Daniel Jones to the Giants. And the Broncos have spent plenty of time on Drew Lock and now, loaded with picks in the second round, moving up a bit to get him would hardly be a surprise. It isn’t a lock – excuse the weak pun – that he is the fourth QB, with NC State’s Ryan Finley and West Virginia’s Will Grier generating a lot of Friday buzz, too. The Panthers have done a lot of work on Grier, FWIW. And the QB I am most intrigued by on the second day of the draft is Tyree Jackson of Buffalo. I could easily see him in New England, and Bill Belichick’s disciples in Miami and Detroit are also keeping a very close eye on him, too. At 6-7 with freakish athletic talent, with the right coaching and development he could be special.
More draft notes
No doubt in any GM’s mind that the Eagles traded up with the Ravens Thursday night specifically to steal left tackle Andre Dillard from the Texans. For all of the work Houston did on moving up for a top OL, they ended up taking an FCS project from Alabama State. In the long run, could be a genius pick – but with the way Deshaun Watson gets destroyed each week, the long run might be too late. … Really like what Washington did on Thursday night. They are building what could be one of the more beastly front-sevens in the league and I believe Haskins could finally solve a 20-plus year QB riddle for them. … The Packers gonna consider maybe giving Aaron Rodgers some protection or a playmaker today? Defensive coordinator Mike Pettine has zero excuses not to have a top 10 defense with all of the money and assets thrown at that unit the past two months, and I would still expect them to add potential-impact DL Muhammad Wilkerson back at some point this offseason when the free agent is fully recovered from injury. … One of the least surprising aspects of the draft was the Colts trading out of the 26th spot. GM Chris Ballard had eyes for injured defensive lineman Jeffery Simmons – who went to the Titans at pick 19 in what could be an absolute steal – and Maryland safety Darnell Savage, whom Green Bay moved up to take at pick 21. At that point Ballard was very likely going to bail down to Round 2, which he did. … Several teams I believe won big by doing nothing, led by Washington letting Haskins come to them at 15. The Raiders reach for Clelin Ferrell at four, and Gettleman’s panic move for Jones at 6 led to some defensive talent dropping just a bit – Jacksonville got Josh Allen out of nowhere at 7, a no-brainer despite its huge needs on offense, and I had the Bills taking Christian Wilkins at 9, because Ed Oliver was already off the board in my mock (but he was there in real life!). I knew Wilkins would not get past Miami at 13 – I just didn’t think he’d be there, but he was, so the AFC East landed three of the potential real DT studs in this class, with Quinnen Williams going third to the Jets. … The five players I had going in the first round in my mock who did not make it were – Jawaan Taylor, Cody Ford, Lock, Byron Murphy and Irv Smith. Always interested to see how many picks it takes until all 32 are gone. I figured medical red flag would knock Taylor out of top half of the first round but did not think he’d fall this far.