Answering Steve Keim's cry for help: What the Cardinals should do with the No. 1 pick
Last Tuesday, nine days before the NFL draft, General Manager Steve Keim told us the Cardinals had yet to decide who they were going to take with the first overall selection.
That’s hard to believe given the franchise’s brain trust has pondered the question since Dec. 30, when the Cardinals lost their 13th and final game of the 2018 season.
Keim might have been blowing smoke, but since no alarms sounded that day at the Dignity Health Arizona Cardinals Training Center, (the DHACTC, I guess), let’s take Keim at his word and view it was a cry for help.
The only things fans and writers of sports like better than playing general manager is second guessing. To change things up, let me do some first-guessing today.
Here is what the Cardinals should do:
- Pass on taking Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray with the first pick.
- Stick with Josh Rosen at quarterback.
- Try to trade down, but stay in the top 10.
- If that’s not possible, take Alabama defensive lineman Quinnen Williams or Ohio State pass rusher Nick Bosa with the first overall pick.
Here is my reasoning behind those suggestions.
Passing on Murray, sticking with Rosen
No, I’m not anti-Kyler Murray. He’s immensely talented, with a strong arm and unusual speed and quickness.
I saw almost every snap he took last season for the Sooners (his only year as a college starter) and voted for him for the Heisman Trophy.
Even at 5-feet-10-inches, I think he will eventually be successful in the NFL.
But, he is not Baker Mayfield. He is not Andrew Luck. He is not Peyton Manning or Patrick Mahomes.
If Murray were in that class, I’d say the Cardinals should take him and trade Rosen.
But I’m not convinced Murray is going to be a better NFL quarterback than Rosen. I'm not convinced Murray won't think baseball is an attractive option if he's suffers a serious injury playing football.
Despite his struggles last season, Rosen still has a promising future, especially if the Cardinals have found stability on the coaching staff and offensive line.
So why not draft Murray and keep Rosen for awhile, too, as my colleague, Greg Moore, believes?
Financially, it makes sense. As Jason Fitzgerald of overthecap.com wrote last month, the cost of having Murray and Rosen on the roster would be about $13.2 million a season. In 2018, the Cardinals had about $27 million tied up on Sam Bradford, Rosen and Mike Glennon.
But while the numbers add up, the chemistry doesn’t. Do the Cardinals really want a quarterback controversy in Kliff Kingsbury’s first season at the NFL level? Do they want to risk dividing a team and having the starter looking over his shoulder after every bad pass or poor outing?
Try to trade down
This is easier said than done, because the number of teams interested in trading up for a 5-10 quarterback appears to be limited. Again, if there were a Manning, Luck or Mahomes in this draft, the Cardinals would be in a far better position.
What I wouldn't do if I were Keim is trade out of the top 10, unless the Cardinals receive a bounty in return.
There should be some reward for suffering through last season’s 3-13 record. Staying in the top 10 gives the Cardinals an opportunity to select an elite defensive player in a draft that is supposedly full good ones.
No trade? Then take Williams or Bosa
I’d rather emerge from this draft with Rosen and Williams or Bosa, than with Murray and a missed opportunity to add a long-term impact player on defense.
Williams, from Alabama, would give the Cardinals an impactful inside presence on the defensive line, something they’ve lacked since allowing Calais Campbell to leave via free agency after the 2016 season.
With Williams and Corey Peters on the inside, and Chandler Jones and Terrell Suggs on the outside, the Cardinals would have one of the better defensive fronts in the NFL.
Or, if they prefer Bosa, fine. He’s the best pass rusher in the draft and could take over for Suggs a year from now.
Taking Murray first overall isn’t worth passing on either Williams and Bosa.
Many will disagree with all the above, but I think we can reach consensus on this: it's good that the end to all the speculation is near.
For the last four months, we’ve had to parse words, examine video and put the part of our brain that controls imagination through two-a-days to guess what the Cardinals are going to do with the first pick.
All that ends Thursday night in Nashville, thankfully.
Hear Somers every Monday between 4 and 4:30 p.m. on The Drive with Jody Oehler on Fox Sports 910 AM.
Watch the Shot Clock