In spite of all the standout performances at the NFL Combine, the headlines are dominated by a player who barely participated - Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray. The 2018 Heismann Trophy winner is now the odds-on favorite to be the first selection in the 2019 NFL Draft.
This is music to the San Francisco 49ers’ ears. If Murray goes to Arizona Cardinals at No. 1, Ohio State pass rusher Nick Bosa, the draft’s best player at the team’s biggest need, falls into the waiting arms of general manager John Lynch. It all sounds too good to be true for the 49ers, and the circumstances are still hard to fathom.
The Arizona Cardinals traded up in the first round last year to draft UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen, effectively removing quarterback from their list of needs in 2019. Or so we thought. Arizona’s hiring of offensive-minded head coach Kliff Kingbury has flipped the script. Now, despite selecting Rosen last year, the Cardinals are expected to pair Kingsbury with Murray to light a fire under his high-performance offense and trade Rosen to the highest bidder.
Several analysts throughout the league have given credibility to the rumor. Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller pegged the Cardinals with Murray in his latest Post-Combine mock draft:
“After the NFL Scouting Combine, mock drafts shift from “what I think will happen” to “what I’m hearing will happen.” Throughout the week in Indianapolis, I didn’t run into one agent, scout, coach or general manager who thought anyone but Kyler Murray would be the top overall pick.”
NBC Sports’ Matt Maiocco offered similar insight after his latest mock draft:
“One personnel chief told NBC Sports Bay Area that as soon as Murray measured over 5-foot-10 (5-10 1/8, to be exact), he became the odds-on favorite for new coach Kliff Kingsbury’s scheme.”
NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah, who handled commentary duties during the Combine, also switched up his latest mock draft to reflect the Cardinals’ new target at first overall. The chances of the 49ers landing Bosa have never seemed stronger.
An edge rusher capable of complementing the 49ers’ first-round interior investments has long been considered the team’s strongest need. Bosa’s Combine performance cemented his status as the draft’s top pass rusher. He ran a 4.79 40-yard dash, a 7.10-second three-cone, and 4.14-second short shuttle time — all respectable numbers. Bosa’s 1.55-second 10-yard split was tied for third among edge rushers.
“Nick Bosa is the top overall player on my big board,” Miller said. “He’s powerful, explosive, technically sound and productive coming out of Ohio State.”
Of course, this is all conjecture. No one truly knows who the Cardinals are picking until they turn in their card on the evening of April 25th. But for now, 49ers fans should allow themselves a shred of excitement at the emerging reality of San Francisco landing the draft’s best pass rusher and consensus No. 1 overall prospect.