When Kliff Kingsbury said in October that he liked Kyler Murray so much that “I would take him with the first pick,” if he were an NFL head coach, Kingsbury wasn’t expecting to become the head coach of the team with the first overall pick. But he is, and that raises an obvious question: Is Murray to the Cardinals a legitimate possibility?
The Cardinals used their first-round draft pick last year on quarterback Josh Rosen, which would seem to preclude them using their first-round pick this year on a quarterback. But it might not be as farfetched as it sounds: After all, one of the greatest dynasties in NFL history was built by a team that used back-to-back first overall picks on quarterbacks.
That dynasty was the Dallas Cowboys of the 1990s, who began their rebuilding effort by taking quarterback Troy Aikman with the first overall pick in the 1989 NFL draft. Three months later, the Cowboys took another quarterback, Steve Walsh, by giving up their 1990 first-round pick in the supplemental draft. The Cowboys ended up having the worst record in the NFL in 1989, which meant that first-round pick they gave up for Walsh turned out to be the first overall pick in the 1990 NFL draft.
But it all worked out well for the Cowboys. Aikman is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame and led the Cowboys to three championships. Walsh was later traded to the Saints for a first-round pick, a second-round pick and a third-round pick. One of those picks was used to select Erik Williams, who would go on to become a three-time first-team All-Pro offensive tackle, and the other two picks were used as part of a package to trade up and draft Russell Maryland, who became a Pro Bowl defensive tackle.
So if the Cardinals wanted to, they could draft Murray first overall and then trade Rosen to some other quarterback-needy team and use the picks acquired from the Rosen trade to beef up their roster elsewhere. It’s possible they wouldn’t get much in a Rosen trade, given that he didn’t play well as a rookie, but if that’s the case it’s all the more reason that they shouldn’t pass up on a quarterback they believe in this year just because they drafted Rosen last year: If Rosen couldn’t draw much in a trade, then why would the Cardinals believe Rosen can be the quarterback who gets them where they want to go?
None of this means the Cardinals are likely to buck convention and take Murray or any other quarterback first overall. But it does show that it’s not as unrealistic as some might think.