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Kolakowski: Cardinals must take Murray with first pick

| Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Draft winners.

Forget everything you ever knew about the prototypical professional quarterback. Forget the image of the 6-foot-5, 230-pound gunslinger who will sit in the pocket and work through his progressions before finding the open receiver. That type of quarterback can certainly be nice for a franchise, but it is not the only type of quarterback that wins games.

Draft winners. Draft athletes. Draft Kyler Murray.

Yes, I’m looking at you, Arizona.

Murray surprised many last week when he measured in at 5-foot-10 1/8 and 207 pounds at the NFL combine in Indianapolis. He was not as short as previously believed, and he emerged as a winner of the combine without taking a snap or running a drill.

Prior to the combine, Murray was loosely connected to the Arizona Cardinals, the owners of the first-overall pick. New Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury is known to covet Murray, and he praised the Heisman Trophy winner last October while he was the head coach at Texas Tech.

“Kyler is a freak,” Kingsbury said October 28, 2018. “I would take him with the first pick of the draft if I could.”

Now that Kingsbury owns that first pick, he should stick to his statement and bring Murray to Arizona. NFL experts said the connection between the quarterback and the Cardinals is growing stronger after the combine.

“In terms of Murray, people are beginning to believe almost universally he will indeed be the No. 1 pick in this draft by the Arizona Cardinals,” Kim Jones of the NFL Network said. “In fact, teams picking in the top 10 believe they’ll have no chance of drafting Murray.”

Matt Leinart also predicted that the Cardinals will select Murray with the No. 1 overall pick.

“Kliff Kingsbury and Az will draft Kyler Murray #1,” Leinart tweeted. “He is a franchise changing Qb in that system.”

Leinart, a former Cardinals quarterback himself, also brought up the interesting case of Josh Rosen, the quarterback that Arizona selected in the first round of the 2018 draft.

The presence of Rosen should not matter to the Cardinals. The young quarterback struggled in his rookie campaign, but he certainly has a lot of talent. Rosen remains an asset that Arizona can use to improve its team. He can be traded for draft picks or a position of need, so he should not be a hurdle to drafting Murray.

Murray did not throw or run at the combine, but he will demonstrate his talents at the Oklahoma Pro Day on March 13. Scouts and fans are already perfectly aware of what Murray is capable of on the field.

Murray surged to a strong finish at the end of the 2018 season, snatching the 2018 Heisman Trophy award from early-season favorite Tua Tagovailoa. In only one season as the starting quarterback for the Sooners, Murray completed 69 percent of his passes, racking up 4,361 yards and 42 touchdowns through the air. His legs bring an additional dimension to his game, and the quarterback rushed for 1,001 yards and 12 more touchdowns for Oklahoma in 2018.

Murray is a playmaker and a dynamic athlete. Traditional scouts might question his size, but height and weight cannot measure impact on the field.

Another Oklahoma quarterback faced similar criticisms just a season ago. Baker Mayfield was too short to be an NFL quarterback, but the Cleveland Browns took him No. 1 overall anyway. Mayfield eventually took command of the quarterback job in Cleveland, leading the Browns to their most successful season since 2007.

Murray can have a similar impact on the franchise that he joins this spring.

Make it happen, Kliff. Go draft your franchise quarterback.

Draft Kyler Murray.

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