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NFL sources believe Cardinals targeting Kyler Murray with No. 1 overall pick in draft

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive

INDIANAPOLIS – It started as a silly fantasy, based on an old quote, that somehow the Arizona Cardinals were targeting Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray with the No. 1 overall pick in this year’s NFL draft, and were ready to give up on Josh Rosen, the quarterback they took 10th overall less than a year ago. For weeks, everyone – including the Cardinals – seemed to dismiss it as ridiculous.

Now, though, a lot of NFL people think it’s not so ridiculous at all. And that, of course, is noteworthy to the Giants.

In fact, many NFL sources, from scouts to agents to team executives, told SNY at the NFL Scouting Combine this week that they believe the Cardinals really are targeting Murray with the No. 1 overall pick. None of them knew for sure, obviously, and the Cards braintrust wasn’t ready to tip its hand.

But the speculation only grew on Wednesday when Cardinals GM Steve Keim was asked if Rosen was the Cardinals’ quarterback, and he answered like this:

“Yeah,” Keim said. “He is right now, for sure.”

It was the “right now” that set the combine aflutter, and had media outlets searching for the video of Kliff Kingsbury once saying about Murray: “I’d take him with the first pick in the draft, if I could.” Of course, Kingsbury was at Texas Tech then, and even he never imagined he’d soon be coach of the Cardinals, who just happen to hold that first pick.

Maybe that was a coincidence, but it guaranteed Kingsbury and Murray would be linked at least until the draft begins on April 25.

“Yeah, I can see why it did and how the circumstances played out,” he said on Wednesday. “It was before a college game, and obviously you think the world of Kyler as a player and as a person. But the timing of it is pretty unique.”

Indeed it is, and it’s become an even bigger story as Murray’s star has risen in NFL ranks since he made the decision to enter the NFL draft. Once thought by some to be a second-rounder because of his height, he measured at 5-10 1/8 and a solid 207 pounds on Wednesday. Crossing the 5-10 and 200-pound barriers eased the minds of some NFL personnel.

Now, even those who don’t believe the Cardinals will draft him No. 1, seem convinced he’s got a shot to go ahead of Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins, who has long been considered the top quarterback prospect in this draft. Given that “quarterbacks always go higher than expected,” as one NFL source said, they both could end up in the Top 5.

The Cardinals are even likely to get a few calls from teams interested in moving up to draft him with the first pick. But no one thinks the Cards will want to give that pick up.

“I really think he’s going No. 1,” one league source said. “He fits exactly what Kingsbury wants to do out there.”

“It’s a perfect match,” another source said. “And maybe they can deal Rosen for a high pick too.”

The mobile Murray would seem to be an ideal fit for Kingsbury’s “Air Raid” offense, which needs a quick, mobile quarterback who can make plays on the run. What’s unclear is what they could get for Rosen, who struggled as a rookie. Given how high everyone was on the class of quarterbacks in last year’s draft, it figures several teams could be interested.

And yes, the Giants could be one.

But that all hinges on Murray going No. 1, which might only be speculation with eight weeks left before the draft. To many around the league, though, that speculation is a lot more believable than it was a few weeks ago.

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