The Arizona Cardinals need to make protecting quarterback Kyler Murray their top priority for the upcoming season and beyond
After weeks of speculation, the Arizona Cardinals made it official. On the night of April 25th, the club’s front office selected Oklahoma’s Kyler Murray with the first-overall choice of the NFL Draft. Many Cards’ fans were against the move, but what is done is done and it’s now time to move forward.
One major concern surrounding Murray entering the draft is a legitimate one. As a college quarterback, the small size (5-foot-10, 207-pounds) of Arizona’s new leader did not affect his ability to make plays or his health. But what wasn’t a problem against the kids of the NCAA could very well become one at the professional level.
New Cardinals’ head coach Kliff Kingsbury, whether he knows it or not, has his work cut out for him. Though the temptation to turn their weapon loose will be great, it may be sensible to discourage Murray from taking off and running against NFL defenses. And if Kingsbury has a bunch of designed runs for the passer in his playbook, he may want to keep those to a minimum as well.
Even if Kingsbury tries to warn against it, Murray may ultimately be running for his life anyway. Cards’ general manager Steve Keim brought in some mediocre blockers over the past couple of months, in his latest attempt to fix the offensive line. Despite the additions, there’s not a lot of confidence in the current group’s ability to protect Murray in 2019.
Arizona, thankfully, doesn’t need for Murray to gain yards on the ground. Their starting running back, David Johnson, is more than capable of handling that responsibility. In fact, the squad’s former third-round pick has put up some incredible numbers since he entered the league back in 2015.
In 49 career appearances, Johnson has racked up 4,632 yards from scrimmage and has reached the end zone a whopping 43 times. The former Northern Iowa University star’s best season was in 2016, when he tallied 1,239 rushing yards, 879 receiving yards and 20 total touchdowns. Utilizing a talented ball-carrier like Johnson would help limit Murray’s carries, which would help in keeping the quarterback upright.
The Cardinals will need to do whatever they can to preserve their new face of the franchise. Keim and Kingsbury have rolled the dice by acquiring the well-publicized Murray. Making sure that the youngster remains in one piece should now be the organization’s number-one priority.