Best fits for Kyler Murray: Here are 10 NFL teams that make sense for QB now that he's committed to football
Murray announced this week that he's all in on the NFL
Kyler Murray is all in on the NFL. The 2018 Heisman Trophy winner made it official on Monday when he announced, "I am firmly and fully committing my life and time to becoming an NFL quarterback," adding, "I eagerly await the opportunity to continue to prove to NFL decision makers that I am the franchise QB in this draft."
We considered Murray a first-round pick prior to the latest development, and now that it's all-systems-go, we think Murray will be off the board by the 15th selection, and he could possibly find himself among the first 10 players drafted. He's that good, his height be damned.
So which teams could be in the Kyler Murray sweepstakes? Here are 10 that, to varying degrees, make sense.
1. Arizona Cardinals (pick No. 1)
The Cardinals have the first-overall pick and are a year removed from drafting quarterback Josh Rosen 10th overall. On the surface they shouldn't be in the market for a franchise quarterback because, well, they already have him. But new coach Kliff Kingsbury didn't draft Rosen and back in October, when Kingsbury was the Texas Tech coach, he said this of Murray:
"Kyler is a freak," he said at the time, via Eric Kelly of KLBK. "I've followed him since he was a sophomore in high school. Just think the world of him and what he can do on a football field. I've never seen one better in high school and he's starting to show it now at the college level. I don't have enough good things to say about him. He's phenomenal.
"I've never seen him have a poor outing. Not one, which at quarterback is impossible to do but he's done it. I'd take him with the first pick of the draft if I could. I know he's signed up to play baseball but he is a dominant football player and I would take him with the first pick."
By Tuesday, Kingsbury told reporters that Rosen "is our guy." For a team with needs just about everywhere but quarterback that should end the discussion, right?
Yes. But that doesn't mean it will.
2. Oakland Raiders (picks No. 4, 24, 27)
Over the first few weeks of the 2018 season it certainly appeared that Jon Gruden and Derek Carr weren't going to last. But as the fifth-year quarterback got more comfortable in Gruden's offense, the production improved. Carr set career highs in completion percentage (68.9) and yards per attempt (7.3) but he was also sacked 51 times. Put another way: Quarterback isn't the Raiders' biggest issue, even with someone as electric as Murray sitting their at the top of the draft. And if Gruden can remember that, the team can focus on more important needs, starting with edge rusher. In fact, we're convinced Oakland should address all three levels of the defense with their three first-round picks (we have them taking EDGE Rashan Gary, LB Devin Bush and CB Lonnie Johnson in our latest mock draft). And given how deep this class is at wide receiver and tight end, the Raiders can target those positions in Rounds 2 and 3. And suddenly this five-win team is much, much better (at least on paper), heading into summer workouts.
3. New York Giants (pick No. 6)
First things first: We're absolutely convinced that the Giants should take Murray. It sure doesn't feel like they're interested, however; general manager Dave Gettleman seems content to bring Eli Manning back and if this team is going to fall in love with a quarterback, Ohio State's Dwayne Haskins feels like the obvious choice. And Haskins makes a ton of sense -- he's our top-rated quarterback -- but imagine a Giants offense that features Murray, Saquon Barkley, Odell Beckham and Evan Engram? You think that group would score more points than the offense led by Eli in 2018?
4. Jacksonville Jaguars (pick No. 7)
Again, here's another team that should think long and hard about finding a way to land Murray. The Jags would likely have to trade up -- not because the Giants are just ahead of them, but because of the teams behind them that could be all-in on landing the Heisman Trophy winner. Jacksonville is done with Blake Bortles, who less than a year ago signed a three-year extension. The expectation is that the team will pursue Nick Foles but at what price? And more importantly, is he a long-term solution? Murray, meanwhile, would immediately transform the offense, and also have the benefit of one of the league's best defenses, which after a dominant 2017 season, came apart at the seams in '18. Much like the Giants, it feels like general manager Dave Caldwell and team executive Tom Coughlin would be more inclined to favor a traditional dropback passer like Haskins over a wildcard like Murray -- even with the recent success of Baker Mayfield and Patrick Mahomes.
5. Denver Broncos (pick No. 10)
Word on the street is that John Elway only has eyes for Drew Lock. That was the report coming out of the Senior Bowl, where Elway was seen watching the quarterbacks closely during practice. On Wednesday, the Broncos agreed to trade for Joe Flacco, which leaves the organization exactly where they were before news of the deal leaked. Flacco, you can argue pretty easily, hasn't been good since 2014; Case Keenum, whom Elway signed to a two-year, 36-million last offseason, had a Hall of Fame year in 2017. At the end of the day, this feels like Elway trying to mend a broken leg by replacing an old bandaid for a new one. This in no way should keep the organization from drafting a quarterback come April. And while Murray makes sense, he very well may not be on the board at No. 10 and Elway may end up with Lock, the player he's been eyeing all along.
6. Miami Dolphins (pick No. 13)
Here's our thinking on Murray to Miami: New coach Brian Flores arrives from New England, where's he's watched the rest of the AFC East flounder year in and year out, having no answers for the Patriots. Traditional football ain't working. (Hell, look at the wildcat, which caught the Pats so thoroughly off guard back in 2008 that not only did they have no answers but the Dolphins won the division that year.) Knowing that, why not go the unconventional? Murray, who can play within the confines of an offensive scheme, provides you so much more in terms of athleticism and playmaking ability, attributes Ryan Tannehill doesn't possess. And it's that athleticism and playmaking ability that gives the Dolphins the best chance to get better. We've heard Bill Belichick say that exceptional talent is one of the hardest things to game plan against. Put another way: Flores and the Dolphins need to find a way to get Murray.
7. Washington Redskins (pick No. 15)
Seven years after the Redskins traded up for Robert Griffin III, they again find themselves in desperate need for a franchise quarterback. Murray is already the better player -- both as a passing quarterback and a runner. But like RG3 his slight build -- perhaps more than his height -- will worry NFL teams. How durable is he? RG3's career was cut short because he refused to avoid big hits, the ones Russell Wilson (who outweighs Murray by at least 20 pounds) always seems to maneuver out of the way of. Washington's beaten-down fan base would certainly welcome Murray, especially since the other options are Alex Smith (he's still recovering from a severe leg injury), Colt McCoy (he's made two starts since 2015) and ... well, that's it. There's some conversation about signing AAF first-overall pick Josh Johnson but none of those names are magically fixing one of the NFL's worst offenses from a season ago. The Redskins would have to trade up to get Murray but that doesn't sound like much of a deterrent for owner Daniel Snyder.
8. Green Bay Packers (picks No. 12, 30)
We admit, this is out there. But CBSSports.com's Will Brinson mentioned it on the Mock Draft Monday Pick Six Podcast and it's not the craziest idea, right? Isn't this what happened to Brett Favre? The Packers used a first-round pick on Aaron Rodgers and after two seasons Favre was with the Jets. Favre, by the way, was 35 when Green Bay took Rodgers, who is ... 35. Look, this feels like the longest of shots, and the Packers certainly aren't trading up for a quarterback. But remember when Rodgers slipped all the way to 24th when many thought he'd be the first player taken? What happens if Murray slides to the bottom of Round 1 on draft day and Green Bay is on the clock?
9. New England Patriots (pick No. 32)
Again, we're pretty sure this won't happen. But every few years, the Patriots draft their eventual replacement for Tom Brady only to trade said replacement because Brady's deal with the devil means he'll play forever. That said, Bill Belichick is the NFL's most innovative coach and imagine how he and Josh McDaniels would use Murray. We wouldn't be surprised if the Pats end up drafting a quarterback -- Duke's Daniel Jones might be the more conventional pick -- but Murray somehow finding his way to New England would be an eminently bigger story than the time Jerry Jones wanted to draft Johnny Manziel.
10. New Orleans Saints (pick: 2nd round)
This seems like the perfect fit. Unfortunately, the Saints traded away their 2019 first-round pick to trade up for Marcus Davenport last spring. But given how the offense has used Taysom Hill while spelling Drew Brees, adding Murray would make one of the league's explosive offenses even better. And it would give the Saints a clear and obvious transition plan from Brees, who is 39 and has one year left on his deal. Complicating matters: The Saints also don't have a third-round pick (they sent it to the Jets for Teddy Bridgewater, who appears headed for free agency) or a fourth-round pick (the Giants got that for Eli Apple) though they could package a 2020 first-rounder and some players currently on the roster.
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