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March Madness for Cardinals (Final 4 Almost Set)

NCAA Men’s Final Four - Practice Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

According to Kliff Kingsbury, with regard to the Cardinals’ #1 pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, “all options are on the table.” He avows that the Cardinals are still in the process of putting their draft board together and, when it is complete, they will make a “Cardinal decision” about what they will do with the #1 pick.

In terms of the interest the Cardinals are showing in the top prospects, it appears clear at this point that the Cardinals’ Final 4 is almost set. Here are the 4 seeds and the prospects of each:

East Regional Winner: #1 seed---DE Nick Bosa, Ohio St.

Back as far as September, Nick Bosa was the consensus #1 rated prospect in the 2019 NFL Draft. Bosa’s tenacious, attacking style and his superb ability to bend around tackles in a flash to sack the QB make him a worthy choice.

Bosa has strong ties to the Cardinals in Billy Davis, one of his coaches at Ohio St. the last couple of years and can profit on the fact that new DC Vance Joseph has indicated how important it is for his defense to have two stud edge rushers and two top cover CBs.

South Regional Winner: #1 seed---DT Quinnen Williams, Alabama.

Quinnen Williams was not in anyone’s top 25 at the start of the season, but he delivered one of the most dominant season-long defensive performances in recent years. He is a big man who delivers a strong punch at the line of scrimmage and can get skinny and explosive in a hurry when he sees a crease to the football.

The Cardinals have been showing a great deal of interest in Williams and will be hosting him soon for a visit to their facilities. If his recent interview with the 49ers is an indication, Williams may prefer dinner at IHOP over Steak 44.

Midwest Regional Winner: #1 seed---QB Kyler Murray, Oklahoma.

Last September Kyler Murray’s only national attention was that he was taken with the #9 pick in the 2018 MLB draft by the Oakland A’s. The A’s agreed to let him play QB at Oklahoma this year, and Murray was so consistently electrifying as a passer and runner that he succeeded Baker Mayfield as the Heisman Trophy winner.

Murray’s ties to Kliff Kingsbury are well documented. Kingsbury tried very diligently to recruit Murray to Texas Tech and in the process developed a strong rapport with Murray and his family. Before playing against Murray last year, Kingsbury claimed that he would take Murray #1 in the draft if it was his choice. Amazingly, that is now one of the Cardinals’ 4 possibilities.

West Regional Winner: play-in game between the Oakland Raiders (#4 seed in the West) and the New York Giants (#6 seed in the East).

The Raiders and the Giants are the two most likely teams to trade up with the Cardinals to get the #1 pick. In both cases, the Raiders and the Giants are within 5 spots of the first pick and have multiple first round picks to offer in return.

The Raiders have the #4, #24 and #27 picks, while the Giants have the #6 and #17 picks.

In terms of Day 2 picks, the Raiders have #35 (no 3rd rounder) and the Giants have #37 and #95.

In terms of players who would likely be attractive to the Cardinals as part of the package, the Raiders have

T Brandon Parker, DT P.J. Hall, LB Marquel Lee, RB DeAndre Washington (played for KK at TT) and WR Marcell Ateman. Players for the Giants could include WR Sterling Shepard, DT, B.J. Hill, RB Wayne Gallman, and DT R.J. McIntosh. Who knows, if the Giants are going all in at #1, maybe they would offer the #6, #17 picks plus TE Evan Engram.

Local (Arizona) Enthusiasm:

Early indications are that many Arizona fans would like to see the Cardinals trade down with the Raiders in order to stockpile picks AND still have a decent chance to draft DT Quinnen Williams.

Most Cardinals’ fans to date would like to see the Cardinals stick with QB Josh Rosen.

If the Cardinals decide to stay at #1, most Cardinals’ fans want DE Nick Bosa, and if the Cardinals take Bosa, there is apt to be a general feeling of excitement and relief.

National Enthusiasm:

America loves the Cinderella, which is why most of the nation would be ecstatic to see the Cardinals select QB Kyler Murray with the #1 pick. It is a storybook scenario, going back to the Kingsbury TV interview where he would take Murray at #1, all the while oblivious to the eventuality that months later he would be in a position to make this a reality---made even more implausible in the uncanny aftermath of Kingsbury (a Lubbock icon) getting fired by Texas Tech and Murray winning the Heisman Trophy, taking Oklahoma to the NCAA Division 1-A Final 4 and then choosing a career in the NFL over major league baseball.

Potential Impact of This Week’s NFL Meeting In Arizona:

Over the next couple of days, the Cardinals could have a golden opportunity to gauge the trade interest of teams that would like to move up to the #1 spot, as well as gauging teams’ trade interest in QB Josh Rosen.

Arizona Cardinals On The Clock:

The NFL would love it if the Cardinals play the drama out to the final seconds of the clock on the night of Thursday April 25th. It would likely be the most suspenseful and highly anticipated #1 pick in years. And unless there is movement in a potential trade involving Josh Rosen, or the Cardinals decide to have Rosen sit out of the team’s April workouts rather than risk injury, the chances are pretty strong that the Cardinals will keep everyone in suspense right up until Roger Goodell (amidst the traditional cascade of boos) announces the pick or the trade.

For the Cardinals it will most likely come down to the final theme song of the tourney---will it be Luther Vandross’ “One Shining Moment” or Van Halen’s “Jump”?