Let me get it out of my system right away. I still believe it was a serious gaff by this organization to bring in a college coach with a losing record at that level, and then have to get rid of last year’s Top 10 draftee QB, (ROSEN), to give that new HC his favorite toy, (from HS recruiting days), with the top pick in this Draft.
Now let’s move on to their 2019 Draft effort, which standing on its own merit, looks quite good. 6 of their 11 Picks were ranked within the Top 100 of my prospect rankings. 7 of their 11 choices played in either the Senior Bowl or the East/West Shrine Game. Both of those factoids are in their favor, IMO.
Round 1, Pick 1
KYLER MURRAY QB OKLAHOMA 5’10/207 4.50/40 PP#4
Consider this to be the “grand experiment”, Part 2 in perhaps a whole new chapter in the definition of the NFL Franchise QB. Part 1 was LAMAR JACKSON last year for BALTIMORE. Can a very athletic, but seriously undersized QB, with more on his baseball resume’ than on his football one, emerge as a slightly smaller RUSSELL WILSON? MURRAY certainly looked like the real deal in undersized QB play, but the pro game is still a different beast from college football. Only time will tell, but it is pretty clear that MURRAY will be their starter in 2019, and it will be up to KINGSBURY to develop him quickly. He better be able to beat out BRETT HUNDLEY, even as a Rookie. Color me skeptical overall, but impressed by MURRAY’s athleticism and dynamism. His work in the 2018 College football season was most impressive.
Round 2, Pick 33
BYRON MURPHY CB WASHINGTON 5’11/190 4.53/40 PP#19
I felt that MURPHY was the top overall CB in the 2019 Draft class. After months of listening to concerns about how small he was for the NFL, he measured up just fine when the Combine rolled around. To me, the most impressive part of his game is his ball skills. Watching him play about 5 games last season, his anticipation and speed to the ball downfield seemed elite, and he is not reluctant to support in the run D. He should see the field plenty as a Rookie, and might help the team move an expensive, and somewhat disgruntled, PETERSON before the next Draft rolls around. It’s a new era in the desert.
Round 2, Pick 62
ANDY ISABELLA WR UMASS 5’9/188 4.31/40 PP#91
This young man is another top athlete who is defying the odds against “little guys”. He’s wound tight, and combines quickness with his 4.31 speed. He is almost the poster boy for the slot receiver position. Some worry about his 8 3/8″ hand size, but on game day, it does not seem to matter in the least. Watching him at the Senior Bowl, back in January, was an epiphany for me. ANDY had a decent week of practice, but was far from dominant. Then game day rolled around and he was unstoppable. He is absolutely dynamite after the catch, and owns the sideline catches. He had 102 catches last season for 1,698 yards and 13 TD’s. His track record also indicates that he really elevates his game the tougher the opponent. His biggest game stats came in a match-up with SEC powerhouse, Georgia. This guy is the real deal, and will allow FITZ to be moved around the offensive formations.
Round 3, Pick 65
ZACH ALLEN DE BOSTON COLLEGE 6’4/281 5.00/40 PP#59
He is not flashy, but controls the field on his side of the line. He combines strength with some short area quickness, and his motor runs non-stop. He’s country strong, and a good locker room influence to boot. Nice long arms, (34 3/4″), and big hands, (10 1/8″), allow him to keep OL at bay, and off of his body. He struggled in drill work at the Senior Bowl, but makes plays in game action. I have said for two years now, that he was born more than ten years too late for the NFL. Back in the days of the Steel Curtain, he’d have been a star, ala L.C. GREENWOOD. Be that as it may, he is a solid player who will help the Cards along their underperforming DL.
Round 4, Pick 103
HAKEEM BUTLER WR IOWA STATE 6’5/227 4.48/40 PP#43
If ISABELLA is Mutt, then BUTLER is Jeff. The target radius of BUTLER is huge. Not only is he 6’5, but he has 35 1/4″ arms and 10 3/4″ hand size. Throw in a 36″ vertical, and you have a match-up nightmare for even the best NFL secondaries. He pulled in 60 balls last season at 22.0 ypc, including 9 TD’s. So how did he last until Round 4? I think two major factors were at play here. He seems to have concentration lapses and drops too many balls, given his talent level. He also seems to shy away from high traffic areas. I felt that he had early Round 2 talent, but he is going to have to work on his weak points. Hopefully, LARRY FITZ will take BUTLER under his wing, and help him develop more consistent work habits.
Round 5, Pick 139
DEIONTE THOMPSON FS ALABAMA 6’1/195 4.55/40 PP#56
Potential would also seem to be the name of the game with THOMPSON, who only started one season for the Tide in their talent rich secondary corps. He has all the potential in the world to develop into a top notch NFL FS. He might even grab a starting job by the middle of his Rookie season. He’s a good tackler, but can sometimes underestimate the speed of his targets, and misses a few too many tackles. That should be correctable with more playing time. He could fit multiple roles in their coverage schemes, as well as excel on Special Teams coverage units. Another good value Pick.
Round 6, Pick 174
KEESEAN JOHNSON WR FRESNO STATE 4.60/40 PP#134
Despite already having taken 2 wideouts, JOHNSON may have just been too high on their Board to pass on in Round 6. He’s no speedster, but had the route running and hands to latch on to 95 receptions last season. His route running may be second, only to RIDLEY, in this prospect group. He can also get significant yardage after the catch. He tracks the ball very well, which was quite noticeable during Shrine Week. His 9 1/2″ hands also help his cause. With the team having given up on multiple vet wideouts, like J.J. NELSON and BRICE BUTLER, all 3 of these wideout draftees have a shot to make the roster and contribute now.
Round 6, Pick 179
LAMONT GAILLARD OC GEORGIA 6’3/305 5.40/40 PP#143
A team captain, and a 3-year starter, this man wins and plays with FBI and determination. He shows just the kind of grit that many successful OC’s possess. He was rock solid all week at the Shrine venue, and the clear leader of the East OL group. For an OC, he has above average hand size, (10 3/8″), and long 33 1/2″ arms. When on the field, he is a mean, determined competitor. A worthy successor to A.Q. SHIPLEY, whose job he should take away as a Rookie. I expect him to start, and be MURRAY’s personal protector for some time.
Round 7, Pick 248
JOSHUA MILES OG MORGAN STATE 6’5/314 5.32/40 PP#NR
A large, talented mauler from the small school ranks. He was also at the Shrine venue and flashed at times. He was a 3-year starter in college, and All-Conference as an OT. Because of their roster issues, I could see him getting a shot outside at OT in Training Camp. His 10 3/4″hands and 35 5/8″ arm length, certainly are adequate for that job. However, I am not sure his footwork is up to snuff for the edge in pass-pro. Either way, I will be very surprised if he is not on their 53-man roster, and pushing for a starting OG job in 2019.
Round 7, Pick 249
MICHAEL DOGBE DL TEMPLE 6’3/286 4.97/40 PP#132
He was one of my favorite players from the Shrine venue. DOGBE is Temple Tough, and versatile enough to move around, no matter what front the Cards DL is put into. He is a physical rock, but take a look at that 40-time from his Pro Day. He was one of the biggest snubs not at the Combine, IMO. He had very impressive stats from 2018, recording 72 tackles, which included 12.5 TFL and 7 Sacks. He played in a record 54 games for the Owls. I could not believe this guy was still around in Round 7. He will play, and become an integral part of their DL corps.
Round 7, Pick 254
CALEB WILSON TE UCLA 6’4/240 4.56/40 PP#168
Mr. Irrelevant may have the last laugh on NFL talent evaluators. Right now, he is an undersized TE/flex receiver, with 9 3/4″ hands. In a rebuilding UCLA program under new HC CHIP KELLY, he caught 60 balls last season. Count him in as an extra slot guy for now, but if he can muscle up a bit, he might make a decent TE option for them in a season or two. Good athlete for the last Pick of the Draft.
Pushing aside the MURRAY/ROSEN/KINGSBURY drama, this draft, in and of itself, was the best one this team has had in quite some time. They got a very nice mix of quality players covering a multiplicity of positional needs. Many of the Picks have excellent value, especially using my rankings as a bench mark. GM KEIM has also been signing a steady stream of VFA’s to help prop up the roster for the short term, while the Rookies develop. IF MURRAY/KINGSBURY can work some kind of magic, this team might pull itself back up to a .500 ball club soon, with serious spoiler potential by December of the 2019 season.