Anytime you're the No. 1 overall pick at quarterback, you know there's going to be a lot of pressure on you. Anytime you're the No. 1 overall pick at quarterback who is a little bit outside the box in terms of size and skillset, there are even more eye balls and analysis into what you do. And anytime you're a No. 1 overall pick at quarterback replacing a Top 10 quarterback who was drafted the year before, well that takes all of this and puts the entire situation under a giant pressure cooker ready to blow at any point.
That was the situation Kyler Murray was drafted into when the Arizona Cardinals selected him No. 1 overall this past draft. Murray was one of the most electrifying players in all of college football in 2018, and was drafted as such when he was picked as the top dog in the class. Though few could deny the type of difference maker Murray had been to that point while at Oklahoma, there were concerns whether or not he could translate that total game-changing ability to the next level.
Murray was named the starter right away for the Cardinals, and though he's had his growing pains, this past weekend in Tampa Bay we saw flashes from Murray that should give you total faith that this guy can be the real deal.
What set Murray a part when it came to evaluating him versus the rest of the quarterback class and for the Cardinals, even from a guy like Josh Rosen, is what Murray can do with his legs. Murray was one of the toughest players to stop in college football because if you let your guard down for even a second, he could make you pay in a big way.
That was shown in the form of the play above. The Buccaneers are one of the most disciplined run stopping teams in the NFL, yet they let their discipline get away from them for just one play and Murray made them pay for it. You draft guys because of what they can do for your football team. That's the kind of stuff that sets Murray a part, and gave him top value coming out of the draft.
But the added running component of Murray's only becomes truly unlocked if you can be that same kind of threat, if not even more dangerous, from the pocket.
Let me tell you: Murray is.
The word that I kept going back to over and over again to describe Murray throughout the draft process was "natural." Knowing that Murray came from a multi-sport background, you could just see that things came natural to him. Those moments where the play might be happening at super speed or where a split-second decision had to be made, those were the ones that Murray appeared to be most comfortable in -- when he was at his best.
Take the play above for example. The offense was moving at a very fast pace with tempo in a no huddle. The ball was hiked, Murray found his target and without hesitation just let it fly -- a perfect dime of a pass almost 50 yards down the field.
Murray has the Cardinals' rookie record in passing yards with over 2,500 already, completions with 230 and games with multiple passing touchdowns with five. If this keeps up (which I believe it should) he'll be completely re-write Arizona's record books.
The reason I can say that what we've seen from Kyler is just the beginning is because of plays like the one above.
Daniel Jeremiah of NFL Network pointed this one out on Twitter and it's a good one to note because it shows just how much Kyler has already started to grow into the NFL game just halfway through his rookie year.
In the play above, at midfield with the lead as the game was winding down, Murray and the Cardinals offense were faced with a second-and-10. As the ball was snapped to Murray's hands, he looked left immediately. In doing so, he was able to manipulate the linebackers and even the softies over the top into freezing at their spot, not breaking towards the middle route Larry Fitzgerald was running. That opened up a small window up the seam, one that Murray hit beautifully with accuracy and velocity.
Minus height -- if you even want to call that a necessary tool -- Murray has so much of what you seek when drafting a franchise-changing quarterback. He has a rocket, accurate arm, touch on passes that is hard to teach, a sense of how to manipulate defenses and then of course some of the best speed for the position.
Put it all together -- which Murray is -- and you have yourself a guy who gives you more and more confidence each week that you made the right choice drafting him No. 1 overall.