It’s been nearly two months since the Cardinals selected Kyler Murray with the No. 1 overall pick — and 14 months since they traded up to No. 10 to take Josh Rosen, who has since been traded to the Dolphins — and somehow the already lofty expectations have grown for the NFL‘s shortest quarterback.
Murray, the 5-10 Heisman Trophy winner from Oklahoma, is expected to earn the starting job in the fall, but even after impressive offseason workouts and glowing reviews by teammates, Murray knows there’s a lot of work to be done on a team that managed just three wins a year ago.
“Everybody is not on the same page like I was with my guys in college right now,” Murray said in an interview with Fox Sports Arizona. “I’ve only been here for a couple of months so it will take time, it’s going to take reps. But I’m prepared for the ups and the downs, but so far for me it’s been great. The guys have been very accepting of me and I can’t wait to get the season started.”
Once you get past general manager Steve Keim’s decision to take quarterbacks in the first round in back-to-back drafts, it’s hard to overlook how good the 2019 draft class looks. In addition to Murray, the Cardinals added wide receivers Andy Isabella, Hakeem Butler and KeeSean Johnson as well as defensive standouts Byron Murphy, Zach Allen and Deionte Thompson. And while new faces mean more depth, it also means a steeper learning curve.
“I think it will all be an adjustment,” Murray conceded. “Just for all of us rookies, it’s going to be an adjustment. I’ve always been confident in myself, trust my abilities. I trust what I can do on the football field along with coach (Kliff) Kingsbury’s coaching, teaching me. I think us together along with the players that we have can be very dangerous.”
As it stands, the Cardinals quarterback depth chart includes Murray, Brett Hundley, Chad Kanoff and Drew Anderson. Hundley, a 2015 fifth-round pick, is the only player with any regular-season experience (he made nine starts for the Packers in 2017). And he’s happy to help the rookie if that makes the team better, but don’t mistake that for Hundley giving up on earning the No. 1 job.
“The knowledge that I have, I’m able to pass it along to [Murray], especially through this journey of his because the NFL isn’t a sprint. It’s a long distance marathon,” Hundley told TMZ.com recently. “For me, my goal has always been to start, no matter what position it’s in. I don’t play to be second. So I think that’s my number one goal, to get that starting job, and at the same time, it’s a competition for a reason.”
Guard J.R. Sweezy, who also joined the team this spring after spending five of his first six NFL seasons with Seattle, sees a lot of similarities between Murray and Russell Wilson.
“I see hundreds of similarities,” Sweezy said. “I always say, we got to see this guy really play. I think he’s going to be just fine. But just to even be compared to Russell Wilson is a huge compliment. He’s going to back it up. I just love that he’s getting compared to him already and everything. He’s going to be great.”
“You could compare it to that (Murray and Mahomes’ arm strength). It’s very unique, for sure,” said wide receiver Christian Kirk, who played one year with Murray in college, via the Arizona Republic’s Bob McManaman. “I’ve talked about it before. Obviously, everyone knows what he can do with his legs, but what he’s able to do with his arm and just the way it comes off his hand. It’s never a duck; it’s always a spiral. It’s just so quick coming off his hands and the ball is usually never late and it’s usually never under-thrown.”
First-year coach Kliff Kingsbury, who coached Mahomes for three seasons at Texas Tech, didn’t seem surprised that Murray and Mahomes were mentioned in the same breath, in part because both are wildly athletic, but also because both have baseball backgrounds.
“It’s just a quick, efficient release,” Kingsbury said of Murray back in late May. “He can drop it down. Pat [Mahomes] was the same way and is the same way. They can drop it down and not lose accuracy, not lose touch. They’re so used to throwing from different platforms, different angles in baseball and it just translates over to football for them.”
Whether that will be enough to take the Cardinals from the NFL’s worst team to something more than that will be determined in the coming months.