Kyler Murray, Daniel Jones Take the Spotlight of the 2019 NFL Draft’s First Round


Photo used with permission from Creative Commons

The Titans pick at the 2016 NFL Draft in Chicago, Illinois.

Written by Casey Abashian and Daniel Alvarez

For what seemed like an eternity, speculation over who the Arizona Cardinals would take with their first overall selection loomed leading up to draft day. While Nick Bosa, star defensive lineman out of Ohio State was seen as a lock for the selection early on in the scouting process, Oklahoma Heisman Trophy winner Kyler Murray quickly emerged, becoming the favorite in the last few months of preparation. Playing the premium position, quarterback, Murray was seen as the explosive signal caller that could bring life to the Cardinals organization and bring excitement to one of the league’s least successful franchises.

Thursday, April 25th arrived, and the rumors came to fruition. Kyler Murray was indeed the selection. Arizona had landed their pillar to build around, but it didn’t come without controversy. The Cardinals used their 10th overall pick last year on a different quarterback, Josh Rosen. Even with Rosen’s up and down rookie year, it is a very rare occurrence to see a team draft a quarterback with consecutive first round selections. This year it happened, and Rosen quickly became the odd one out between the two. Arizona reached a trade with the Miami Dolphins the following night, ending Rosen’s brief tenure as a Cardinal.

When talking about the Murray pick, Arizona executive Steve Keim outlined his thought process about Murray, saying, “I haven’t seen a guy who could throw like him and run like him. I’ve seen guys who could do one of each, but I’ve never evaluated a guy who possesses the skill set to do both things at such a high level. I was also studying guys that I was falling in love with, like Nick Bosa, Quinnen Williams, really having to really weigh which player makes the biggest impact for us. It became crystal clear in the end it was Kyler Murray.”

As the draft continued, a clear trend was coming more and more apparent. The deep defensive draft enticed teams to take the variety of talented defensive lineman available, including Nick Bosa, Quinnen Williams from Alabama, Ed Oliver from Houston, and Josh Allen from Kentucky. Eleven out of the 32 first round picks were defensive lineman.

The night’s most polarizing pick occured with the New York Giants’ sixth overall choice. Eli Manning, the team’s longtime quarterback, just celebrated his 38th birthday and is clearly on the last stretch of his successful career, missing the playoffs in six of his last seven seasons since winning a second championship in Super Bowl 46. To find Manning’s successor, Giants General Manager Dave Gettleman selected Daniel Jones, a quarterback out of Duke. The decision, while addressing a major need, did not exactly thrill New York fans, with a majority of the fanbase wanting the team to select Dwayne Haskins out of Ohio State for their future at quarterback.

Jones was projected to go later in the first round, leading many to question the value of the decision, especially with the variety of talented defensive players available and the possibility that the Giants could’ve taken Jones with their other first round pick at 17th overall, lining up more with his projected value.

NFL Network’s main Draft Analyst, Daniel Jeremiah described why the Giants made the move, saying, “The Giants wanted someone who has faced adversity. He was not surrounded by a lot of talent at Duke, he got beat up and he has faced that adversity. He has ideal size and athleticism. He has a lot of toughness inside the pocket and was able to extend plays.”

Jones mirrors Manning in his play style and skill set, adding to the unrest of fans who have grown tired of Manning’s tenure. Fair or not, Jones will always be compared with the player Giants fans wanted, Dwayne Haskins, who was selected by the Washington Redskins, New York’s division rival, at pick 15.

Amidst the backlash, Gettleman described why he took the Duke Quarterback, telling reporters, “The thing that convinced me about him as a player was the Senior Bowl… I watched [Jones’] three series. The first series, he was three-and-out. Series 2 and Series 3, he takes them right down the field for touchdowns. And he just looked like what a professional quarterback should look like.”

The pick, good or bad, will define his tenure as General Manager of the Giants, placing his reputation on the shoulders of a 6’5”, 220-pound Duke prospect.