Arizona Cardinals: What if Clayton Tune excels in rookie season?
By Sion Fawkes
The Arizona Cardinals drafted former Houston quarterback Clayton Tune in the fifth round of the 2023 NFL Draft. What if he excels this season?
This time last season, I would have laughed if anyone said Brock Purdy would lead the San Francisco 49ers to the NFC Championship. And who knows? If he didn’t get hurt in the early-going, perhaps the Niners would have won that game, and the Arizona Cardinals would have interviewed and hired Jonathan Gannon a few weeks earlier than anticipated?
Anyway, conventional wisdom said Trey Lance would have been ‘the guy’ to do this, and if not him, then definitely Jimmy Garoppolo, who led the Niners to the NFC Championship and beyond before. But no, it was Brock Purdy, who in one season, became the best Mr. Irrelevant in NFL History…at least as far as rookies go.
While Tune was a fifth round pick, let’s not gloss over the obvious. The kid was one quarterback I was ultra-high on, but I never bothered to mock him to the Cards because I thought he would have, at worst, lasted until the fourth round before someone scooped him up. But here he is, about to wear a cardinal and white uniform.
In my quarterback projections, I have Kyler Murray as the projected starter, since I believe he will take over at some point during the season, while Jeff Driskel is my top backup and “starter” for the season’s early going. Tune, meanwhile, is a practice squad projection, mainly because I’m being conservative here, and trying not to overrate the quarterback, though I can see him working his way into a QB3 role eventually in 2023.
What if Clayton Tune starts and excels for the Arizona Cardinals?
But what if I’m wrong about Tune? And what if the quarterback has a good camp, earns the QB2 job behind either Driskel (or Colt McCoy), they get hurt (doesn’t this always happen?), and Tune comes in during Week 1 vs. TBA, and lights up the opposing defense.
Obviously, you’re not reverting back to Driskel or McCoy. Not only are they on the wrong end of 30, but they’ve both proven themselves to be nothing more than long-term backups with obvious limitations talent-wise.
And what if Tune, say, starts the next five games before Kyler Murray is cleared to return, and the Cardinals are sitting at 4-2 or better? In all honesty, if you’re the Arizona Cardinals, and I say this in all sports, you go with the “hot hand.”
In this case, if Tune steps in as a starter and excels, you keep him in there. He’s likely already built a rapport with the pass catchers, so it’d be foolish to pull a Wade Phillips and put in the hot commodity over the hot hand (reference to the entire Doug Flutie/Rob Johnson ordeal in 1999).
In that case, you go with Clayton Tune until he has multiple bad games. If he has multiple bad games. It’s like the entire Dak Prescott/Tony Romo thing from 2016-starting Dak was a no-brainer, and the Dallas Cowboys were smart to move forward with him.
Further, Tune would likely excel in an offense geared around Murray’s talents. He ran a 4.64 at the NFL Combine this past season, and during his final year in Houston, he rushed for 544 yards and five touchdowns on 128 carries, so he has dual threat capabilities.
As for Kyler, you let him go elsewhere in 2024, and you got your guy in Tune. While I don’t foresee this occurring, there is no other way about
(Statistics provided by Sports-Reference/CFB)