Making the case for the Arizona Cardinals to draft a physical receiver (or two)

The Arizona Cardinals don’t have enough physical receivers on the roster, but one look at Kyler Murray’s passing chart shows they desperately need them.

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Kyler Murray isn’t the quarterback who will consistently win you games if you don’t have the players around him to help maximize his talents. With a high draft pick, the Arizona Cardinals can help remedy that issue with a big target in Marvin Harrison Jr., but they may need more than either the Ohio State star or another first-round talent.

Breaking down Murray’s passing chart at PFF, it’s clear that he struggles on deep passes of 20 yards or more. So far in 2023, Murray has gone 5 for 14 in the category, with one touchdown, one interception, and 165 passing yards. 

He has, however, been more effective when throwing toward the right side of the field, where he is 4 for 8 with 117 yards. That said, he’s just 1 for 6 for 48 yards between the hashes, and toward the left side. 

On throws between 10 and 19 yards, Murray is just 13 for 29 with 196 yards, one touchdown, and one interception. Once again, these aren’t the best numbers, so it shows us that the deeper passes are often not Murray’s strong suit. 

Physical receivers would further help maximize Kyler Murray’s strengths

However, it gets better with short throws between 5 and 9 yards downfield, as Murray is 48 for 63, with 451 yards, and a touchdown. This is where Murray is at his most effective, and he has a passer rating of 93.3 or higher whether he’s throwing to the right, the left, or between the hashes. 

Trey McBride’s presence has been a huge factor here, and Michael Wilson should also be effective when he returns. Whether the Cards are in the position to draft Harrison remains to be seen, but it doesn’t mean they can’t draft another large target or two. Options include Keon Coleman (6’4, 215 lbs), Rome Odunze (6’3, 211 lbs), Xavier Legette (6’3, 227 lbs), Brian Thomas Jr. (6’4, 205 lbs), and Ja’Lynn Polk (6’2, 204 lbs), among other top receivers

Overall, the lighter, shiftier receivers likely aren’t good fits for a Kyler Murray-run offense, thanks to what his passing chart has shown us. However, if the Cards continue to commit to Murray in 2024, bringing in at least one if not two larger receivers who can be physical and catch the ball in traffic could work wonders for the former number-one pick. 

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(Data provided by PFF [subscription], other information provided by Tankathon)