The conventional wisdom over the last several weeks has been the Arizona Cardinals will use the first overall selection in Thursday’s 2019 NFL Draft to select Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray. That pick would come despite Arizona trading up in last year’s first round to select quarterback Josh Rosen. Would Arizona make that kind of move?
Thus far, the answer to that question has largely been, “Yes.” The Cardinals hired Kliff Kingsbury to be their new head coach this year, and he has no tie to Rosen, but was said - before knowing he was heading to the NFL - that he would select Murray if he has the top pick this year. Now he has the top pick and it appears he will make that exact pick.
But, what if Arizona throws a curveball on Thursday?
Quietly, mock drafts around the web are starting to change the first pick. The Los Angeles Times held a mock draft on Monday featuring 32 reporters covering the various NFL franchises, and Kent Somers from The Arizona Republic projected Quinnen Williams to be Arizona’s first overall pick. Murray stayed on the board until the Miami Dolphins’ pick, 13th overall, when Omar Kelly from the South Florida Sun-Sentinel made him Miami’s new franchise quarterback. Kelly explained, “The Dolphins didn’t anticipate Kyler Murray’s draft-day slide, at least in this mock, but since he’s available at 13, they’ll rush to the podium and select a talent many believe will be this generation’s version of Russell Wilson.”
Almost simultaneously, Armando Salguero from the Miami Herald tweeted he was doing a reporters mock draft, and with the 13th pick, he had the possibility of selecting Murray. He chose Florida tackle Jawaan Taylor instead, giving Miami a right tackle to bookended the offensive line with Laremy Tunsil at left tackle, and continuing the team’s rebuild of the foundation of the franchise.
CBS Sports’ Pete Prisco recently stated, “Initially, the ownership pushed for Kyler Murray, that much I know, I was told that. The reason they did is they are having a hard time selling tickets. Well, they put it out there. Arizona was lukewarm to it. So now, all of a sudden, they are pulling back and from what I’ve been told, they are going to go in a different direction. They are not going to draft Kyler Murray.”
Prisco then backed that up with his latest 2019 NFL Mock Draft, where he has Arizona using the first pick on Ohio State defensive end Nick Bosa. He has Murray remaining on the board until the Dolphins pick at 13 - though he also admits that may be too far of a slide for Murray.
Seth Cox from Revenge of the Birds adds another rumor to the mix, writing “There is a rumor that [Cardinals GM] Steve Keim, not ownership, is pushing for the Cardinals to keep Rosen and take another player at one since the Cardinals have not been offered a first in exchange for Rosen.”
The latest rumors circulating for a trade of Rosen - which would like have to occur should Murray be selected - focus on the Dolphins, but only with a third-round draft choice as the compensation.
Maybe this is all smokescreen. Maybe this is just Arizona trying to drive up the compensation for Rosen. Maybe the Cardinals are trying to see if anyone will blow them away with an offer for the first pick. Maybe this is the time of year when nothing you hear is 100 percent truth.
But, maybe, just maybe, Murray is not the first-overall pick on Thursday.
And if he is not, Thursday immediately falls into chaos. Will someone jump up to grab Murray? Will he fall to the New York Giants at six? The Denver Broncos at 10? The Dolphins at 13? The Washington Redskins at 15?
What happens if Kyler Murray falls?