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Are the Arizona Cardinals really going to draft another top-10 QB?

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SiriusXM At Super Bowl LIII Photo by Cindy Ord/Getty Images for SiriusXM

The Arizona Cardinals hadn’t drafted a quarterback in the first round since Matt Leinart in 2006 when they selected Josh Rosen a year ago at 10th overall. Leinart and Rosen share one thing in common so far: being picked 10th overall by the Cardinals. The commonality that Rosen does not want to share however is also flaming out and being replaced almost immediately by an option the organization views as better.

And yet as draft day approaches, the marriage of Arizona and Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray at number one is a fantasy that is far too compelling to ignore. The two sides met on Tuesday, giving us an even more vivid view into what that world could look like.

From the viewpoint of the Seattle Seahawks, the idea of the Cardinals drafting Murray immediately conjures up at least one positive outcome in the short term: Arizona wasted a top-10 pick last year. The Cardinals even traded up from 15 to 10, giving up a third rounder (eventually became Seattle’s own Rasheem Green) and fifth rounder in the process, and they did so to pass on Minkah Fitzpatrick, Vita Vea, and DaRon Payne. If they had stayed at 15, they could have selected Derwin James or Leighton Vander Esch.

The team could have been no worse off if they had passed on Rosen and given Sam Bradford the season, or even a street free agent; they are picking first overall, remember? So the immediate “good” outcome for the Seahawks and the rest of the NFC West is that Arizona took a bit of a gamble and it has been an abject failure.

The downside is that we don’t know if Murray would be a huge mistake or the best thing that’s ever happened to the Cardinals. If Murray is anything like Patrick Mahomes or Russell Wilson, nobody should waste time caring about the Rosen mistake.

Even that isn’t necessarily a long-term mistake.

Rosen only recently turned 22 and he was playing on one of the least-talented offenses in the NFL. Center Mason Cole was the only offensive lineman to start more than 10 games. Starting tight end Jermaine Gresham had 94 yards in 13 games. Larry Fitzgerald should not be anyone’s best target at this point in his career, especially when there aren’t any comparable receivers or tight ends on the roster. The offensive coordinator was fired, and eventually the head coach.

I can’t imagine any reasonable person not worrying at least a little bit about the New England Patriots trading for Josh Rosen.

On a competent team, with talent around him, and more experience under his belt, who knows what Rosen could still be. Which is why I think the most obvious answer as to do with Rosen if you draft Murray is: Keep him. If the return is less than a first round pick, you keep him and let the competition fuel the best performance out of each QB and see what happens. If you want to protect Murray for a year, you’ve got a bonus round with Rosen to see if he has the second-year leaps that Jared Goff, Carson Wentz, Eli Manning, and many others have had. If that’s the case, then Rosen could be worth keeping or trading for at least a first round pick. If not, then what did you lose to have a relatively cheap backup to your new starter? If the return is a third round pick, then you can risk that for the chance to see if you’ve got an actually good quarterback with Kliff Kingsbury and a whole new system in place.

The other potential upside to all this from the perspective of Arizona’s rivals is that if they select Murray, and Murray isn’t good either, then they’ve taken this huge risk at quarterback while passing up some of the best pass rushing prospects of the decade.

Will be interesting to see how this meeting went.