The 2019 NFL Draft is less than a week away and the only certainties we have are that we have no certainties. Any good draft worth its salt will have smokescreens, “leaked” stories from teams, and a solid mix of quality and quantity from the player pool. This draft has all of that and more, providing us with a fun game of NFL Draft dominoes. The very first pick in the first round will go a long way in determining how not only the rest of the first round will shake out, but how the draft as a whole will play. Also, apologies if you read this title and thought this was an NFL Draft and pizza article.
First Round NFL Draft Dominoes
The first round of this year’s draft has multiple variables across the board and it starts right away with the first pick and the Arizona Cardinals. What they decide to do creates the fallout for the rest of the league. Based on what happens with the Cardinals everyone’s draft boards will either stay as is, or need immediate readjusting. They could take Kyler Murray and trade Josh Rosen. Or they could take one of the top two prospects available in Nick Bosa or Quinnen Williams. Perhaps they trade out of the first pick and acquire more draft capital. The possibilities are endless.
Everything that happens in this draft will come about based on what the Arizona Cardinals do with the first pick. Do they take Kyler Murray? Or not take Kyler Murray? There’s a lot of questions surrounding this pick and for good reason. Arizona hired Kliff Kingsbury as their head coach this off-season, becoming yet another team subscribing to offensive innovation as a means to NFL success. Kingsbury is a visionary in the world of the “spread offense”, an offensive system predicated on multiple looks, unpredictability, and an attack-heavy mindset (basically think of how Sean McVay and the Los Angeles Rams do things). A spread offense is the same type of offense that produced Patrick Mahomes, Baker Mayfield, and yes, Kyler Murray.
Murray is a seemingly very logical fit for a Kingsbury offense and if Josh Rosen wasn’t already there, a very logical fit for the Cardinals. Rosen was taken tenth overall in last year’s draft with the idea of him being the franchise quarterback for the team. However, Rosen is more of a traditional quarterback who fits into a “pro-style” offensive system, and is now could be out of place with Kingsbury as the head coach. Arizona wouldn’t keep Rosen if they drafted Murray, so taking Murray would mean they would have to trade Rosen. Trading Rosen to a quarterback-needy team means one less team focusing on a quarterback early in the draft. Taking Murray also means that the top two prospects in the draft (Nick Bosa and Quinnen Williams) would each fall past the first pick.
One of the top two prospects in this year’s draft, Bosa came into this past season already ranked number one on pretty much everyone’s big board. What’s even more impressive is that he’s stayed number one on pretty much everyone’s big board up throughout this entire process. Nick Bosa has an NFL pedigree and traits that are ideal for any defensive end and pass rusher. His active hands and athleticism are visible from the moment you see him play and make him a problem to block on every down. Arizona could use a rusher of Bosa’s caliber and if they don’t take him at number one, he almost surely goes number two to the 49ers.
If the Cardinals take Bosa that means Kyler Murray is still on the board. The 49ers at two aren’t drafting a quarterback so that means Murray falls to three. The longer Murray is available the more opportunity there is for the teams that view him as a franchise quarterback. Bosa going first overall to the Cardinals isn’t a shock because of how highly he’s valued, and most teams won’t expect him to be available. Murray still being available could cause teams to re-shuffle their draft boards and re-assess their needs on the fly. The odds of teams calling and trying to trade up to grab Murray increases with every pick he falls past.
The second of the top two prospects in this year’s draft, Quinnen Williams has been rising up draft boards throughout the season. Unlike Bosa, Williams didn’t start the year on everyone’s radar and wasn’t a household name. His play this past season for Alabama changed all that and rocketed him into the conversation of future NFL star that could change his position. Williams can stop the run and provide an interior pass rush, two things that NFL teams covet.
Taking him at one wouldn’t be a complete reach for the Cardinals, but it would have ramifications going forward in the draft. Williams going first overall means both Bosa and Murray are available at two, which means one of them will still be available at three. If Bosa goes at two to the 49ers Murray would still be available at three, and with the Jets being potential trade back candidates at third overall, things could get real interesting real quick. As stated earlier, the longer Kyler Murray remains on the board the more opportunity there is for the teams that value him.
Trade The Pick
This option is the least likely for the Cardinals given how highly rated Bosa and Williams are and how fitting Kyler Murray is for them, but it’s still a possibility. Arizona has needs on both sides of the ball and if they could acquire more quality picks, they could address those needs in the draft. Trading this pick would turn the concept of NFL Draft dominoes into NFL draft chaos.
What It All Means
All roads lead to the Arizona Cardinals in this draft. Holding the first overall pick means they are already on the clock and are under the microscope. What they do with the first pick will shape the first round and the entire draft as a whole, and could also make or break first-year head coach Kliff Kingsbury. You can make a case for going with any of the options listed here, and there isn’t a bad choice among them. What the Cardinals do will have the other NFL teams adapting and reacting while we watch the NFL Draft dominoes fall.
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