Training camp is now just days away, and the Arizona Cardinals have yet to announce who the opening-day quarterback will be. Kyler Murray is targeting a Week 1 return, but most observers believe that the starter will miss at least the month of September.
While Murray battles to get back on the field, the Cards will be holding an audition for a part-time passer. For the time being, veteran Colt McCoy appears to have the inside track on the gig. However, there's a Redbirds rookie who could potentially wrestle the starting job away from the 36-year-old McCoy.
Clayton Tune, a fifth-round draft pick, is already getting rave reviews from the Arizona coaching staff. In spite of the praise, it's a bit hard to believe that head coach Jonathan Gannon would allow a third-day draft choice to lead the Cardinals offense. Then again, the idea may not be as far-fetched as many would think.
Just last fall, San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan found himself in a similar situation with another young signal-caller. Following season-ending injuries to both Trey Lance and Jimmy Garoppolo, seventh-round pick Brock Purdy was thrust into action. The results from the promotion of the draft's "Mr. Irrelevant" were downright impressive.
Purdy ended up appearing in nine matchups for San Francisco, and was undefeated in five regular-season starts. The 23-year-old completed 67.1% of his throws for 1,374 yards and 13 touchdowns, and served up just four interceptions in his 170 pass attempts. Purdy also led the 49ers to a pair of playoff victories until an elbow injury knocked him out of an NFC Championship loss to the Philadelphia Eagles.
Clayton Tune has the tools to succeed as a rookie starter with the Arizona Cardinals
The success that Purdy enjoyed during the first campaign of his NFL career gives a youngster like Tune a ton of hope. Any reservations that the Cards may have in throwing their own inexperienced QB to the wolves should be out the window. What's even more encouraging is that Tune came off of the board a full two rounds before Purdy was selected.
McCoy isn't the only candidate that Tune will have to beat out for the right to replace Murray. David Blough, a 27-year-old journeyman, was re-signed this past March after starting two contests for Arizona last January. Jeff Driskel, a 30-year-old who has 10 starts on his professional resume, is also in the mix.
Tune amassed eye-popping numbers over the past two years at the University of Houston. In his 27 appearances, the 6 foot 3, 220 pounder threw for 7,618 yards and a whopping 70 touchdowns over the 2021 and 2022 campaigns for the Cougars.
There's a whole legion of Cardinals followers, including yours truly, who would love to see what the confident Tune can do with the first-string offense. If would be incredibly intriguing to see what would happen if the youngster was performing at an extremely high level when Murray is finally ready to play. Is there potential for a full-blown quarterback controversy in the Arizona desert?
(Statistics provided by Pro and College Football Reference)