2019 Best NFL Draft Rankings (1)

Michael Lipscomb

The Cardinals brought in players that fit their scheme and fill needs, while also selecting their Quarterback of the future. A well-rounded draft leaves the Cardinals as the FIRST ranked team in our draft rankings!

1. Arizona Cardinals

Their Picks!
Round 1: (No. 1 overall) Kyler Murray, QB, Oklahoma.
Round 2: (No. 33) Byron Murphy, CB, Washington; (No. 62) Andy Isabella, WR, Massachusetts.
Round 3: (No. 65) Zach Allen, DE, Boston College.
Round 4: (No. 103) Hakeem Butler, WR, Iowa State.
Round 5: (No. 139) Deionte Thompson, S, Alabama.
Round 6: (No. 174) Keesean Johnson, WR, Fresno State (No. 179) Lamont Gaillard, C, Georgia.
Round 7: (No. 248) Joshua Miles, OT, Morgan State;  (No. 249) Michael Dogbe, DT, Temple; (No. 254) Caleb Wilson, TE, UCLA.

When people look back at the Cardinals’ draft in the next 5-10 years, they will most likely judge its success on the production of one player. With the 1st overall pick in the 2019 draft, the Arizona Cardinals selected Quarterback Kyler Murray. I know some of you have read, and or heard, enough about Murray already, so I’ve indicated where we discuss the remaining draft picks with an * below.

In terms of talent and skill, Murray has what you’re looking for in a star Quarterback prospect. His ability as both a runner and passer is superb. At Oklahoma University, Murray was a star, in every aspect of the word. In 2018, Murray threw for 4361 yards, 42 touchdowns, and completed 69% of his passes. Out of 377 passing attempts by the QB, only 7 were intercepted by opposing defenses. Murray also ran for another 1001 yards and 12 touchdowns. His fantastic season earned him the highest individual award in college football. Murray was the recipient of the 2018-19 Heisman trophy award.

Despite the flurry of awards and accolades, selecting Murray first overall was not seen as an obvious choice. Many believed Defensive Tackle Quinnen Williams, or Defensive End Joey Bosa, were the best players in college football. On top of that, the Cardinals selected Quarterback Josh Rosen with the 10th selection in the 2018 NFL Draft. Taking Quarterbacks in the first round of consecutive drafts is a poor use of resources, but the Cardinals ended up getting value for Rosen in a trade. Josh Rosen was traded to the Miami Dolphins for a 2nd (pick 62) and a 5th round pick in the 2020 draft.

Arizona Cardinals QB Kyler Murray (AP Photo/Matt York)

All of this movement is “high-risk” by the Cardinals, but it’s one that could pay off in a big way. Newly hired Head Coach Kliff Kingsbury is viewed as an Offensive-minded coach. He will have the Cardinals running a high-octane passing offense. If you want to know what that offense looks like, turn on some Patrick Mahomes’ college film. The offense will be “bombs away” out in the desert. Kingsbury has to believe that Murray has the arm talent to make this offense work in the NFL.

The Head Coach-Quarterback relationship is the most important relationship in football. Kingsbury has to put Kyler Murray in good situations on the football field, while developing his strengths and hiding his weaknesses. All of Murray’s early success will depend on this interaction. Due to a lack of talent on the offensive line, I think Murray will struggle at first. If the Cardinals can develop the team around him, they will have one of the best offenses in the entire league.

Remaining Picks*

Ultimately, I think selecting Kyler Murray was a good selection. The pressure is on Kingsbury to develop him. The subsequent selections are what give the Cardinals the highest ranking draft. With the first selection in the 2nd round of the draft (pick 33), the Cardinals selected Cornerback Byron Murphy from the University of Washington. I absolutely love this pick for the Cardinals. Murphy is one of my favorite players in this entire draft. Murphy was one of the most well-rounded corners during the 2018 season. He excelled in both man and zone coverages for Washington. Murphy has fantastic technique, and showed great hip flexibility while in coverage. While not super athletic, Murphy has incredible ball skills and anticipation. The all-american was also physical in run support, and consistently worked to fight off of blocks. I believe Murphy will end up being an elite corner in the NFL. Pairing him with veteran Cornerback Patrick Peterson, should form a formidable corner tandem in the NFC West.

Washington Cornerback Byron Murphay (Rebekah Welch/ The Seattle Times

As I mentioned earlier, the Kliff Kingsbury offense needs speed. The Cardinals made great use of the Josh Rosen trade by selecting WR Andy Isabella with the 62nd pick in the NFL Draft. Isabella is a smaller receiver at 5’9, but this dude can FLY. Isabella clocked a 4.31 40 yard dash at the NFL combine. Look for him to make noise early in Kingsbury’s offense. Arizona brought in another one of my favorite prospects in the the 4th round of this draft. With the 103rd pick in the NFL Draft, the Cardinals drafted WR Hakeem Butler from Iowa State. I had Butler graded as a late-2nd round player. Getting him in the 4th round is outstanding value for Arizona. Butler is a 6’6 receiver who is a monster in jump ball situations. Butler isn’t the cleanest route runner, but he attacks the ball with his hands when it’s in the air, and is an incredible athlete. Butler is a strong runner after the catch, and has the athleticism to produce at a high level in the NFL. He will fit right into this Air Raid offense, running a 4.48 40 at the combine.

The final pick I would like to highlight, was Arizona’s 5th round selection. Alabama Safety Deionte Thompson was selected with the 139th pick of the NFL Draft. Prior to the 2018 collegiate season, Thompson was regarded as a lock to be a 1st or 2nd round pick in the draft. After struggling this past season, the Safeties’ draft stock took a huge dip. Thompson is as athletic as they come in the secondary, but his inconsistent play is a major cause for concern. Thompson also has a bad habit of trying to deliver big hits instead of trying to wrap up. He will get embarrassed at the next level if he cannot determine when to try and crush a ball carrier, and when to make the safe tackle. With all of  that said, this is the type of boom-or-bust prospect you want to select in the 5th round. The Cardinals will have to find a good role for the young safety to thrive in.

Iowa State Wide Receiver Hakeem Butler (Photo: Brian Powers/The Register)

The Cardinals addressed needs at several different positions while also bringing in potential stars. Drafting the players is only the first part of the equation. The Cardinals have not done a good job of developing their talent over the last couple of seasons. If Kingsbury wants to keep his job, he will need to make player development one of his top priorities. Getting players for your scheme is a great place to start as a new head coach, but Kingsbury has a lot of work ahead of him. Despite this strong draft, we are probably still looking at a long-term build for the Arizona Cardinals.

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