Earlier this spring we were first introduced to the 2019 NFL draft class featuring many stars dispersed into the 7 rounds. Although, Which players will have the best chance to be the face of the league? Taking a closer look at where some of my favorite players that were drafted into the right spot, and have the best chance at making a big impact for their new teams.
Winner: Kyler Murray - Arizona Cardinals
Earlier this spring Kyler Murray found himself as the first athlete to ever be drafted in the first round of two different sports (football and baseball). After being drafted by the Oakland A’s in late May last year, he shifted his focus to being the number one overall pick of the 2019 NFL draft. To no one's surprise he accomplished just that. When looking at this years OROY race, the candidates for this award don’t scream ROY as loud as Kyler Murray does. The 2018 winner, Saquon Barkley had one of the most memorable rookie years in the last decade, with Cleveland's Baker Mayfield right on his heels. Throwing a rookie record 28 Touchdowns, If it weren’t for Barkley’s once in a lifetime rookie season, the award would’ve gone to Mayfield. The back to back Oklahoma heisman winners should see similar success in their rookie seasons in the NFL, barring no Saquon Barkley in this years draft Kyler Murray has no up front competitors for this years award. Despite the similarities between Baker and Kyler, some say that Murray has more to offer and the ability to achieve ultimate stardom at the next level. The face for this next wave of NFL fan's favorite new player, Kyler Murray.
Kyler’s running ability in college has drawn pro comparisons to Super Bowl champion Russel Wilson, along with his college PFF quarterback grade being amongst the highest ever seen since 2014. Matching Baker Mayfield’s highest quarterback grade of 94.6 in his first season as starting QB. So, if Baker Mayfield had his arm and Kyler Murrays legs, how good would he be? Multiple analysts have questioned how well he will be able to throw from inside the pocket. To those doubters, he had the best QBR from inside the pocket in college football last year. Breaking down his play, looking specifically at his throwing motion. Kyler starts from the ground up to ensure that he places the ball with complete accuracy every time. His footwork imitates that of a baseball player throwing out a base runner and hitting a target the size of a glove. If he has the time in the pocket to ensure that his footwork is perfect then that’s exactly what you will get. Even when he’s on the run his mechanics don’t change from his baseball background throwing off of one foot is muscle memory to him and can sometimes bail him out of a tough situation. Kyler's release is so quick and compact that it allows him to get the ball out faster than most NFL quarterbacks. Putting himself at an advantage for reading defenses as quickly as possible, and making the right throw. With Kliff Kingsbury at the helm of this revamped offensive attack the sky's the limit for Kyler Murray as a Cardinal.
Arizona put some great pieces around Murray through the draft and free agent signings, one of them being Hakeem Butler. The next ”Calvin Johnson” drew comparisons from the future hall of famer for his rare size and speed. Who offered a deep threat that was unrivaled in the FBS during his tenure at Iowa State, who should see similar results in the NFL. Another receiver acquired through the draft was U-Mass’s Andy Isabella, a slot that is lethal inside the numbers but also feels comfortable working outside the numbers. Even with his unappealing 5’9 size, Isabella is capable of going up and catching 50/50 balls, that should make for a long successful connection between him and Murray. Along with the newly acquired rookies, the Cardinals are happy to get another season from Hall of Fame wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald. You should expect to see Fitzgerald's own production increase greatly with Murray at the helm. If Larry can stay out of reach from Father Time, he could potentially get the Super Bowl ring he deserves. Pro bowl running back David Johnson sharing the backfield with Kyler Murray will be a huge task for opposing teams to gameplan around. Not only do they create a dominant read option game, but also through the air, as Johnson’s receiving ability is his biggest strength. Lastly, their O-line will be the biggest question mark heading into the season. Adding Marcus Gilbert the ex- Steelers tackle was the only impactful move in their trenches that Arizona invested in this offseason. A below average offensive line could be the only thing holding Kyler back from achieving stardom in year one. Nonetheless, with all that being said the Cardinals quick turn around will be a storyline to watch for next season.
Runner up: David Montgomery - Chicago Bears
General Manager Ryan Pace decided to move up in the third round to select the best running back on the board with the 73rd overall selection for the Chicago Bears. Montgomery played at a high level every year at Iowa State averaging 5 yards per carry his first year, and then having back to back 1,000 yards rushing the next two seasons. He broke the PFF record for missed tackles forced in 2017 and was second in his class last year in 2018. David’s balance when making contact with a defender is a similar skill that much bigger backs like Kareem Hunt display in their game. He can angle his shoulders to match the defenders big hit and pop out of it with just the right amount of force to stay up. Montgomery is in line to be one of Nagy’s best weapons in a very running back friendly offense which could give David a strong case for OROY. Joining what was one of the greatest running back franchise groups in the history of the NFL. If David Montgomery has an injury free career, Chicago could see another great all time running back in 32.
Dark Horse: N’Keal Harry - New England Patriots
N’Keal Harry ends up as my dark horse candidate because, rookie receivers have a very hard time producing in year one of their careers. Although, he is in an ideal spot in New England with Tom and Bill. I could see Harry having a great season despite this lack of great rookie receiving years because of how much his coaches talk to his work ethic. Which Is a good thing to hear when drafting a young receiver, but an even greater thing to hear for New England. After the Patriots added Demaryuis Thomas, Dontrelle Inman to Join Julian Edelman and maybe Josh Gordon? Nonetheless, Bill has created a wide receiver room that evokes competition, putting N’Keal and his praised work ethic to the test beating out veterans for playing time. This is another example of another high character player Bill consistently drafts. If N’Keal Harry he can win the trust of Tom and Bill, he could break the rookie season wide receiver mold in 2019.
Honorable Mentions: Josh Jacobs - Oakland Raiders, Parris Campbell - Indianapolis Colts, T.J. Hockenson - Detroit Lions