This is an exciting time for the hundreds of prospects under consideration for next week’s NFL Draft. They’ve done their talking and preening, on and off the field, sometimes in their underwear. And now all they can do is sit back and wait to be judged and hope to fit somewhere on the draft board before the final name is called.
It’s not unusual that a preponderance of attention has been focused on the first overall pick, which belongs to the Arizona Cardinals, one of the truly abysmal teams in the league last season. The Cardinals, 3-13 in 2018, need everything and frankly they needed it yesterday.
And in the epicenter of the debate is whether the Cardinals still need a quarterback after taking Josh Rosen 10th overall last season out of UCLA.
Under normal circumstances, there would be no discussion. The Cardinals have already invested time and money in Rosen and played him for most of the 2018 season, although his performance was somewhat underwhelming. Hey, not everyone can be Pat Mahomes, Jr.
Yet these are not normal circumstances in Arizona. The Cardinals have a new head coach, Kliff Kingsbury, and he apparently has a super man-crush on Heisman Trophy winner Kyler Murray, the quarterback from the University of Oklahoma.
This is led to speculation the Cardinals are poised to take Murray and start all over again at the position. Of course, it that happens, they are going to have to do something with Rosen, since they aren’t going to keep a kid like him around to back up and mentor Murray.
And as you might expect, Rosen is really not happy about all of this. But he seems more philosophical than pissed off about being left in the dark about his future.
Earlier this week, Rosen finally unburdened himself, telling us what’s been on his mind since the Murray conversation first began to bubble. He did it in an interview with Sports Illustrated TV, which was released on Thursday while he was traipsing around the Grand Canyon with some of his college buddies.
“I think the season probably went as poorly as it could possibly go,” Rosen said. “But within that, I had an unbelievable time. I think when people talk about, like, you can’t listen to criticism or you can’t read articles, you have to be aware of what’s going on to a certain extent. So I definitely understand the situation.
“It’s annoying, but it is what it is. Football’s a business, and I definitely respect the higher-ups and their decisions. We won three games, and each one of those wins – to me, it felt like we won the Super Bowl. And that feeling is so intoxicating, and that’s why I just want nothing more than to be part of a team next year and have the same opportunities to go out and compete.”
The Cardinals really have no other option but to trade Rosen if they take Murray. And if they come to that decision, there are a number of teams in the market for a quarterback who might be interested in making on offer.
The New York Giants, who need to find a successor for Eli Manning, hold the sixth and 17th picks and are reportedly interested in Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins.
“I’m just telling you: I’m not going to force a pick,” general manager Dave Gettleman said Thursday. “You can’t draft for need. You’ll get screwed every time. You’ll make a mistake.”
Rosen remains incredibly affordable. The Cardinals have already paid his entire signing bonus, which means any team that gets him will be the hook for only $6.25 million over the next three seasons.
That’s an incredible bargain for someone with Rosen’s potential. The New England Patriots and Los Angeles Chargers, looking to pave the path once Tom Brady and Philip Rivers retire, might also take a look at him.
The problems would be trying to extrapolate the talent within the kid. He became Arizona’s starter in Week 3 in 2018. He started 13 games throwing for 2,278 yards, 11 touchdowns and 14 interceptions.
Earlier this week, Kingsbury said Rosen’s play had been phenomenal during the offseason and he applauded his effort.
“I think the best advice I’ve ever gotten in life, from so many different people, is control what you can control,” Rosen said. “And whatever decisions are made, it’s my duty to prove them right if they keep me and prove them wrong if they ship me off.”
The words from Rosen are priceless at this point because the Cardinals organization has not made him available to the media during voluntary offseason workouts.
“That’s like why I love this game so much. Because of the game itself, but also because of what it has taught me and what it has exposed me to,” Rosen said. “I’ve learned so much about the way different people from different cultures live.”
Of all the decisions that will be made during Thursday’s first round, the one regarding Rosen and Murray easily will be the most intriguing.