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The NFL Draft begins on Thursday evening as the best players from the college game eligible for selection will be scooped up by all 32 teams over the three days of the process.
The Arizona Cardinals hold the first-overall pick in the Draft and have been linked with quarterback Kyler Murray, who has been touted as the top selection since committing to a career in the NFL rather than Major League Baseball.
Murray is the most intriguing prospect in the Draft as he was outstanding in his one season for the Oklahoma Sooners, replacing Baker Mayfield and winning the Heisman Trophy. However, there are doubts whether he has the strength and size needed to thrive at a higher level.
It remains to be seen whether the Cardinals will select him with the first-overall given that they have Josh Rosen already on their books, who they picked in the first round last year. There are quality defensive lineman available, who could be equally worth of the top selection.
We’ll now breakdown the options available to Arizona, general manager Steve Keim and their new head coach Kliff Kingsbury in the Draft.
Murray stepped into the void left by Mayfield at the Sooners last season. He was exceptional on the field, throwing for 42 touchdowns to just seven interceptions along with over 1,000 rushing yards and a further 12 scores on the ground. The 21-year-old was named the best player in the college game, collecting the prestigious Heisman Trophy. Despite his brilliance, Murray was poised to pursue a career in baseball rather than football. However, at the 11th hour, he opted to declare for the NFL Draft dropping out of his contract with the Oakland Athletics in the MLB.
Murray’s performances on the field saw him installed as the early front-runner to be the first player selected. The Cardinals new head coach Kingsbury was full of praise of the quarterback during his previous role at Texas Tech. Now he has the opportunity to select the 21-year-old in the Draft due to Arizona’s struggles last term. The Cardinals only selected a quarterback in the first round last year in the form of Rosen and he was thrown to the wolves in his rookie term. There’s a belief that the Cardinals could trade Rosen before or during the Draft. It would pave the way for the club to select Murray.
However, Murray has not been without his detractors due to his size and weight. The standard for NFL quarterbacks is to be over 6ft and 200lbs. Murray stands at 5ft 10in and 195lbs. Russell Wilson has found success in the league with similar measurements, while Mayfield is not much taller at 6ft. Murray appears to be a transcendent player and his quality is on the field is apparent. Doubts often emerge about players closer to the time of selection, but the Cardinals have to be decisive and back his talent rather than perceived notions of fragility in the NFL.
There are two options that would potentially be safer selections for the Cardinals with the first-overall pick. Nick Bosa out of Ohio State and Quinnen Williams from Alabama are the two leading defenders, although Kentucky’s Josh Allen is a wildcard.
Bosa is a familiar name to NFL fans. John Bosa was a first round pick in the 1987 Draft and played three seasons for the Miami Dolphins. Joey Bosa currently plays for the Los Angeles Chargers and was selected fourth overall in the 2016 Draft. Joey has been a superstar in the NFL, notching 28.5 sacks in his three-year career.
Pundits believe that Nick has the potential to be even better than his older brother. An injury in his junior season limiting to him to only three matches for the Buckeyes. He had already notched four sacks in those three games, highlighting his potential. The 21-year-old has the size and speed that NFL teams crave for in their defensive ends. Bosa could be the next great pass-rusher in the league. The Cardinals already have an outstanding pass-rusher in Chandler Jones, but two would hand them a dominant tandem.
Williams is the latest in the production line of outstanding player to emerge from Nick Saban’s Alabama defense. The 21-year-old has been a force in the middle of the defensive line, stopping the run, while providing pressure on opposing quarterbacks. It’s a rare sight for players to be talented against both the run and the pass at Williams’ size. He fits the mould of one of his Alabama predecessors Marcell Dareus, who has enjoyed a fine career in the NFL. Williams would be a safe selection, although not one that drastically change Arizona’s fortunes.
There are a lot of smokescreens created by teams ahead of the NFL Draft. The Cardinals are in the best position to take advantage of a team that would potentially trade a ransom to select Murray first overall. It would give a vote of confidence to Rosen and his future in Arizona if his team were to trade the pick or even use it on a defender.
Bosa and Williams will be fine players in the NFL and would be a solid selection for the Cardinals. However, the franchise is in dire need of a game-changing quarterback. It appears as though it may not work out for Rosen in Arizona, with the club’s style of offense being a bad fit for the 22-year-old.
The Cardinals’ hierarchy will have watched as Mayfield drastically improved the Cleveland Browns last season, driving them out of their lull to now be one of the leading contenders for a run to the Super Bowl in the 2019 season. Arizona have not reached the Super Bowl since the 2008 campaign and have struggled to find a permanent solution at the quarterback position.
Murray could be the man to transform the franchise to be their quarterback for the next 15 to 20 years. Back the Cardinals to take him at odds of 1/5 1.20 -500 0.20 -5.00 0.20 with BetOnline with the first-overall pick. Bosa should be the next man off the board to the San Francisco 49ers at number two at odds of 33/100 1.33 -300 0.33 -3.00 0.33 , while there are odds of 2/1 3.00 +200 2.00 2.00 -0.50 for Williams to land with the New York Jets at number three. Rosen, meanwhile, has odds of +181 to join another team for the start of the 2019 season with Bookmaker.