After finishing with a 3-13 record, the Arizona Cardinals hold the number one overall pick in this year’s NFL Draft. Further showing dysfunctional season, two of their three wins came against the San Francisco 49ers. The 49ers went 4-12 and hold the second overall pick. In the offseason, the Cardinals fired Head Coach Steve Wilks after one season and replaced him with Kliff Kingsbury.
Often, a team with the top pick in the draft either takes a quarterback or trades the pick to a team that needs a quarterback. However, the Cardinals situation is a bit more complicated. Here are a few of the options they have regarding their number one overall draft pick.
Option 1: Cardinals Trade Down and Gain Draft Capital
No matter what, the Cardinals draft situation revolves around one man, their quarterback Josh Rosen. Last year, Arizona traded up from number 15 to number 10 in the first round to snag Rosen from UCLA. He was the fourth quarterback taken off the board in the top 10 picks. Rosen came in for Sam Bradford in Week Three and retained the starting job for the remainder of the year. He did not look ready to be an NFL starter, frequently making mistakes reading the defense and throwing errant passes. Arizona’s quarterback ended the year with a completion percentage of 55% and a touchdown to interception ratio of 11:14.
The Cardinals drafted Rosen with the faith that he could be a franchise quarterback. They might still believe he can be a good quarterback in the future and that it is too soon to give up on him this quickly. In that case, they may consider trading down and potentially gaining a lot of picks in both this year’s as well as future drafts. For comparison, two recent teams to trade out of a high draft pick are the Indianapolis Colts and the LA Rams.
The Colts moved down from the third to the sixth pick in a trade with the Jets. To move up just three spots, the Jets gave Indianapolis three first round picks. The Rams in 2016 moved up from number 15 to number one, trading picks with the Titans. In the process, they gave up two first-round picks, two second-round picks and two third-round picks. If the Cardinals were to trade down from number one, they would most likely get draft compensation amounting to somewhere between what the Colts and Titans received.
Option 2: Cardinals Draft Offensive Line or Defense
Even if Arizona wants to keep Rosen as its quarterback of the future, they could still use their number one pick on a different position. Their offensive line was atrocious this year, coming in as the league’s absolute worst O-line in Pro Football Focus’ final rankings. They could start to fix this by adding Alabama offensive tackle Jonah Williams. He can play either tackle spot and could potentially even switch to offensive guard if necessary.
On the other hand, the Cardinals could focus on improving their defense. If so, they would most likely add either defensive tackle Quinnen Williams out of Alabama or defensive end Nick Bosa from Ohio State. They already have a good defensive line foundation including Chandler Jones and Robert Nkemdiche, but adding one of these two players could eventually turn it into one of the best in the league. Bosa may be the better pick simply because he has the higher ceiling and star power.
Option 3: Cardinals Draft Kyler Murray after Trading Rosen
This is the option that would entail the most drama. While Arizona took Rosen last draft hoping that he would be their franchise quarterback, they have a different coach now. That coach, Kliff Kingsbury, is an openly huge supporter of Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray. Kingsbury coached for Texas Tech in the Big XII, the same conference in which Murray played last season. Back in October, when Kingsbury was still Tech’s head coach, he was asked about the eventual Heisman Trophy winner. He replied on camera that he “would take Kyler with the first pick” if he had the opportunity. Well, now he has the chance.
The Cardinals could trade Rosen to a quarterback-needy team such as the New York Giants or Washington Redskins. Arizona’s compensation would probably be at least a third-round pick. Then, they could start fresh at quarterback and take Kyler Murray, the man their head coach most likely wants deep inside. If Kingsbury thinks Murray will actually be a franchise-altering quarterback, he should convince upper management to make this happen. In that case, Murray and All-Pro running back David Johnson could be quite a one-two punch.
Featured image by USA Today
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