In my last article on 47yards (Draftquake 1.0) I stated that I thought the Arizona Cardinals will take Kyler Murray as the 1st overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. Nothing that has happened in the last week at the Combine in Indianapolis has done anything to change that view. Yes there are extremely talented athletic individuals in other positions who would be equally worthy of being the first pick. However, the chance for the Cardinals, mired at the bottom of the NFC West pecking order, to take Murray is irresistible.
The knock-on consequence of that of course is that Josh Rosen taken 10th in the 2018 draft would most likely be left looking for new digs. The No.1 pick and the subsequent displacement of Rosen will shape much of what happens in the early part of round 1 this year. Let’s look at Rosen and where he could end up and how that affects round 1 in late April.
Rosen’s stats were not dazzling in 2018 (certainly in comparison to other rookies who had significant year 1 impact – Mayfield being the cream of the crop). A pass completion rate of 55%, 11 TDs to 14 INT and an overall rating of 66.7% are not eye catching but this is in a Cardinals side in need of overhaul and it was unlikely they expected Rosen to see so much game time in year 1 – the original idea that he would sit behind Sam Bradford only lasted 3 weeks, and Bradford was later cut in November.
The Cardinals could see it through with Rosen, certainly for another season, and see if he can mesh with Kliff Kingsbury’s new schemes on offense. But the lure of Kyler Murray may be too great. Let’s assume they do pick Murray – what happens next.
Where Josh Rosen ends up will depend on what we wants for year 2 of this career – does he want another starting gig or does he want to go as a No.2 and learn the trade behind an experienced QB.
The possibilities are almost endless at this point and as the pieces of free agency fall into place the picture will become clearer (as the options dwindle).
If he is content as the No.2 then it could be anyone of: NY Giants, LA Chargers, Green Bay Packers, even the New England Patriots could be interested in sitting him behind Brady for a year or two (who better to learn from).
If it is the starting gig then we could be looking at: Jacksonville, Miami or Washington (while Alex Smith is out the for the year). Wildcards where he could feasibly compete for the starting job might be Tampa Bay or Tennessee. And right now I’m not ruling anything out for the Oakland Raider they are just so much fun on roster issues.
First Round Impact
The impact of Murray going at No. 1 will be significant. Not too many weeks ago the assumption was that it would be defensive lineman dominating the top 5 or so positions, with QBs (Murray and Dwayne Haskins) not going until around 6 or 7 (Giants and Jags). Not anymore. If Murray goes at No.1 then the clamour for Haskins (considered well above Drew Lock and Daniel Jones) will be great. I very much doubt he will still be there at No.6 when the Giants are on the clock. I would expect Haskins to go between 2-4. The other reason for this is that the order is 49ers at 2, Jets at 3, Raiders at 4 – and all those teams are likely to be open to increasing their overall draft capital. They could, if they are cute, slide a couple of picks, earn more picks from their trade partner, and still get their guy.
In terms of who trades up, then in order to secure Haskins I think it could be the Jags or Giants and there is an intriguing little battle here with Tom Coughlin possibly looking to get one over on his old employers. I can see a deal between the Jets and Jags for spot No. 3 just to stop NYG getting their guy!
The other consequence of Murray going to the Cards and Haskins being taken early is that some excellent prospects are going to fall into the laps of teams who may not have dreamt the player would fall to them. First up is, I think, the 49ers saying ‘thank you very much’ for Joey Bosa.
In a scenario where we do get deals in the 2-4 positions to take Haskins off the board then other players to slip would be Josh Allen, Quinnen Williams, Rashan Gary. The domino effect will continue through the round and I expect some teams to be able sit still and snap up great value for the position of their pick.
How does it pan out?
In some ways shopping Rosen is not that easy for the Cardinals – he didn’t impress particularly and they would be canning him after a year. Persuading another team to give up high value picks may not be straightforward (what’s his worth – a 2nd or 3rd this year plus some bits and pieces next year?). Is another franchise going to go ‘all in’ on Rosen or are they going to want an insurance policy if it does not work out?
Ultimately I don’t see the Jags or Dolphins entrusting him with the job of starter, and I’m not sure any of the sides mentioned where he could be No.2 might want to give up the draft capital for him (e.g. more likely Giants go big for Haskins, Chargers may be on Will Grier) although Rosen ending up in New England would not surprise me!
So, for me Washington may well be the place, where they have experience in Colt McCoy and the knowledge that Alex Smith is back after 2019. This will give the Redskins a year to look at Rosen, support him with McCoy, take a look at Smith once he is on his feet again and then decide on any 2 from 3 to progress for 2020 onwards.
There is still 8 weeks until the draft and we have the merry-go-round of free agency first. The QBs available there will shape who is in need when we get to the draft. The destination for the likes of Nick Foles, as well as the Josh Rosen question, will bring round 1 into much sharper focus. Can’t wait!