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Minshew 1 Pick from Being a Cardinal?

NFL: Tennessee Titans at Jacksonville Jaguars Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

In my 2019 NFL Mock Drafts I was convinced that the Cardinals were going to select Washington St. Air Raid QB Gardner Minshew with the #179 pick that the Cardinals acquired from the Bucs as compensation for the hiring of Bruce Arians (swapped for the Cardinals’ pick #215, the first pick in the 7th round).

In a couple of pre-draft talks with Brett Kollmann and Zac Shomler (Strong Opinion Sports), we concurred that Gardner Minshew would be an ideal backup for Kyler Murray in Kliff Kingsbury’s Air Raid. You might remember when I posted Zac’s outstanding analysis of Minshew:

As the 6th round unfolded it was looking as if Minshew to the Cardinals could come to fruition.

One might say that the Cardinals could have been thinking that Minshew would be available to them later on in the 6th or 7th round.

However, once the Cardinals traded their 6th round comp pick to the Steelers for T Marcus Gilbert and once the Cardinals no longer had the 1st pick of the 7th round, that would have meant that in order to select Minshew, he would have had to be on the board when the Cardinals were selecting their three comp picks at #248, #249 and #254.

The Cardinals had to know that Minshew was not going to be available that late in the draft.

Thus, they had to know that of they were going to select him, it would have to be at pick #179.

One has to wonder whether the Jaguars, at pick #178, were mindful that the Cardinals at #179 could have been targeting Minshew—-as an Air Raid system fit.

Obviously, the Jaguars’ head coach Doug Marrone and offensive coordinator John DeFilippo were hoping that Minshew would be available at #178—-and they made the selection with the hope that he could develop within their system and possibly beat out Tanner Lee for the backup spot behind newly signed UFA Nick Foles. Minshew did just that.

Minshew’s impressive play as the Jaguars’ starter since Foles injured his shoulder in the first game has not only skyrocketed Minshew’s NFL stock and charisma, it has been a real boon for Air Raid QBs.

Last night, Minshew played beautifully within himself and the system as he completed 20 of 30 passes for 204 yards and 2 TDs, leading the Jaguars to a feel good 20-7 win over the Titans.

With Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray coming off Heisman Trophy seasons at Oklahoma both having been selected as #1 picks and both establishing themselves as promising young starters, there is a buzz in the NFL now about Air Raid QBs.

No longer are we hearing the familiar refrain of Air Raid QBs being “college system stars not suited to play in the NFL.”

Gardner Minshew, who was a 6th round pick because of his lack of photo-typical size, arm strength and mobility, is living proof that what matters most for QBs at the highest levels are accuracy and leadership.

Minshew was the 2018 Johnny Unitas Award winner as the top senior QB, and was 5th in the 2018 Heisman voting (122 votes) as he helped lead Washington St. to an 11-2 record, a berth in the Pac-12 Championship Game and a stunning 28-26 come from behind win over Iowa St. in the Alamo Bowl. The 3 QBs ahead of him in the Heisman voting were Kyler Murray (#1 pick 2019 NFL Draft), Tua Tagovailoa (possible #1 pick in 2020 draft) and Dwayne Haskins (#15 pick 2019 NFL Draft).

Now—-a couple of good games and some growing popularity in Jacksonville and around the NFL doesn’t make Gardner Minshew a shoe-in to be one of the NFL’s next great young QBs—-but his early success bodes well for college Air Raid QBs as they transition into today’s NFL.

And to think, Minshew might have been one pick away from being a Cardinal K-Raider.