The Arizona Cardinals will soon have their franchise quarterback Kyler Murray back on the field. After suffering an ACL tear late last season, the former No. 1 overall pick is about to make his grand return.
Speaking of No. 1 overall picks, though, that’s precisely where the Cardinals are projected to draft right now in 2024 thanks to their 1-8 record.
Arizona gutted its roster this past offseason under the new regime of GM Monti Ossenfort and head coach Jonathan Gannon. To the credit of the players still grinding it out in the desert, they’ve played really, really hard for Gannon, who’s some sort of cross of Kendall Roy and J.P. from Grandma’s Boy.
But anyway, credit to Gannon. Kyler Murray was clearly not vibing with whatever was going on when Kliff Kingsbury was at the helm. By all accounts, Kyler has bought into the new program and served as a solid leadership presence even as he was rehabbing from major knee surgery.
Kyler and the Cardinals sh*t show was a pageviews machine at my old digs. Like it was bad, bad. Despite how much goodwill Kyler has built up of late, his future is complicated by the fact that Arizona is so bad record-wise right now.
The top 5 picks of the 2024 NFL Draft as they stand today are:
1. Arizona Cardinals 2. Chicago Bears (from Carolina) 3. Chicago Bears 4. New York Giants 5. New England Patriots
Everyone expects USC quarterback Caleb Williams to be the No. 1 overall pick. If it ain’t him, it’s another signal-caller in Drake Maye of North Carolina. The Cardinals have committed a lot of money to Kyler, yet if he doesn’t absolutely ball out on this patchwork team for the rest of the season, will the new coach and GM actually commit to him long-term?
The flip side to this is if Kyler does come in, show out, and knock Arizona out of the No. 1 spot. Carolina is the only other one-win team. To trade up for Bryce Young, though, the Panthers gave their 2024 first-rounder to Chicago, who as you can see, would own the second and third overall picks if the season were to end today.
Giants QB Daniel Jones tore his ACL on Sunday, and no viable option at the position exists in New York. They’re right up there to pick at the top if their season keeps going the way it is. Would they consider a new quarterback after just paying Jones handsomely?
You could make the argument that New England (projected fifth pick), Green Bay (seventh), and Tampa Bay (eighth) at the very least could use upgrades at the QB spot. So in a way, the best-case scenario for Arizona is if Kyler shows enough to be “the guy” for the next decade, and they somehow finesse the situation by still losing the vast majority of their games.
The higher the Cardinals are drafting, the more tempting it’ll be to take Caleb Williams or Drake Maye. OR, they can hang onto Kyler and ask for a king’s ransom for one of their top picks from one of the QB-needy teams.
I think even if Arizona wins more than expected, they’ll be in a great spot. With all those teams ahead of them who are more liable to draft a QB early, the Cards will still have a wide array of options among the other blue-chip prospects.
Make no mistake, though, no single player will swing the fates of the top five in the 2024 NFL Draft order than Kyler Murray. No matter what on- or off-field chaos is going on around him, he can still make plays like this one that can keep you in any game:
Buckle up, sickos. You’re about to be way too invested in the pain of watching some bad football down the stretch. Let’s hope Kyler can keep us all entertained enough when it comes to the Cardinals, and that he makes their draft decision as difficult as possible. Give me all the drama.