Kliff Kingsbury did his best to be secretive, but his past statements proved to be as authentic as they seemed.
The guy genuinely loves Kyler Murray. And now his near-decade recruitment of Murray is complete as Kingsbury's Cardinals chose the Oklahoma quarterback with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft.
Murray will fit the Cardinals' new offense like a glove — it's the same "air-raid" system he was in as he throttled defenses with the Sooners. In 14 games last season, Murray completed 69 percent of his passes for 4,361 yards and 42 passing touchdowns, adding another 1,001 yards and 12 scores on the ground. He had seven interceptions and two fumbles lost.
He's going to be on the field from day one with minimal growing pains. He'll command a pass-focused, fast-paced, quick-hitting offense that specializes in intricate plays that are designed to get receivers wide open. He'll also be a part of many RPOs that will result in rushing stats-a-plenty. And, since the Cardinals defense still has some work to do in the "stopping their opponents" department, Murray should play from behind or in competitive games most weeks.
He's basically Lamar Jackson, except he's accurate. And I want a guy with that potential on my roster.
You're probably not ready to think of Murray as a legit Fantasy player, but you'll come around. Quarterback is a deep position — if you get to the back-half of your draft without a passer, you'll have a pick from as many as five guys who you'll feel comfortable with beginning the season with as a starter. None of those five have quite the same upside as Murray, though.
I'm on board with drafting Murray around 100th overall (Round 9 in a 12-team league), then taking a second quarterback right after him (one from Dak Prescott/Tom Brady/Josh Allen/Jimmy Garoppolo/Ben Roethlisberger). By following this path, we're locking into a big sleeper quarterback with the least amount of risk possible. Had you done this with Patrick Mahomes last year, or Deshaun Watson the year before, you'd have been happy. It's the success of those young quarterbacks that should help give you some confidence in giving Murray consideration this year, though Murray's own talents and system in Arizona are the most appealing factors.
No doubt, Murray will be just as popular as an all-upside starter in two-quarterback leagues. I also think Murray is worthy of a top-15 pick in rookie-only drafts in dynasty leagues.
What could he do for the rest of this offense?
Johnson's value was never going to be significantly impacted by anything the Cardinals did in the draft. If anything, his offensive line is still a strike against him, but at least this year he should corral more than 3.1 receptions per game. He, like other running backs who work with running quarterbacks, should benefit greatly from Murray's legs threatening defenses. I would expect Johnson to be a dynamo on option plays and still be a big factor at the goal line. He's a lineup-staple with a top-15 pick in any format.
Kirk and Fitzgerald have the reliable hands to get plenty of receptions, but only one of them is set up to be a threat for significant yards after catch. According to Pro Football Focus, Kirk averaged 5.3 yards after catch last year, Fitzgerald had just 3.1 -- and has averaged below 5.0 yards after catch every year since 2015. Kirk figures to have more upside in non-PPR leagues but both will get picked between Rounds 7 and 8. In PPR, Fitzgerald's reception totals push him a shade ahead of Kirk, and in that format, both should get picked around Round 7.
Want a sleeper? Tight end Ricky Seals-Jones gives Murray a wide target with some decent speed. While Kingsbury's offense doesn't typically utilize a tight end on a play-to-play basis, it does enlist anyone who can catch and run. Seals-Jones qualifies, and a Week 1 home game versus the Lions isn't a scary enough matchup to avoid him as a streamer. Take him with one of your last three picks, and if he stinks, toss him for someone else on waivers.