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- The top of the NFL draft is a mystery, in part, because many of the teams have several different options they could pursue.
- The Arizona Cardinals could send the draft into chaos by choosing not to draft Kyler Murray No. 1, an increasingly prevalent belief in the NFL world.
- If Murray is available, several teams could try to trade up to get him.
- Trades could be more common than usual, as some teams may look to trade down to get multiple picks in return, while other organizations, like the mysterious Oakland Raiders, have multiple picks to package in a trade up.
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The 2019 NFL draft would seem to have a clear outline, but there’s a lingering sense that there could be big shake-ups in the first round.
For months, the NFL world has thought the Arizona Cardinals would take Kyler Murray with the first pick. The San Francisco 49ers, New York Jets, and Oakland Raiders, at picks No. 2, 3, and 4, would then have their choice of top defenders, including Nick Bosa, Quinnen Williams, Josh Allen, and Ed Oliver.
But there are signs that things might not go so smoothly. NFL Network’s Mike Silver reported on Thursday that the Cardinals have a relatively straight forward top three – Murray, Bosa, and Williams.
But Silver reported that he was told by Cardinals sources that “multiple scenarios are in play” and “people could be surprised by the outcome.”
The Ringer’s Robert Mays also expressed skepticism on a podcast about the Murray-Cardinals buzz, believing it’s been too loud, suggesting it could be misleading about their plans.
Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury reportedly wants Murray, but multiple reports have said that others within the Cardinals prefer Bosa. If the Cardinals decide to pass on Murray, it could lead to a big shake-up, with teams trying to move up to take the Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback.
What happens if the Cardinals pass on Murray?
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Let’s say the Cardinals take Bosa instead of Murray. If Murray is on the board at No. 2, the 49ers might have a tough choice. Bosa is said to be the top player on the 49ers’ board. Teams would likely be willing to trade up to 2, so the 49ers could collect multiple picks to move back.
If the 49ers keep their pick, the Jets would be faced with a similar situation. According to multiple reports, the Jets are a popular choice as a trade-down team to fill as many holes as possible. Teams would almost certainly try to jump to three to get a shot at Murray.
And if the Cardinals do select Murray?
A similar situation is in play.
This follows a report from Washington D.C.-based radio host Grant Paulsen that Washington owner Dan Snyder has “taken over the first round of the draft.”
- Joe Robbins/Getty Images
If the Redskins like Haskins, they may have to make a drastic move up to to get him because NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported on Thursday that the Raiders recently moved Haskins higher on their draft board.
A case could be made for every team as the X-factor or wild card of the draft, but the Raiders, in particular, have the chance to stir things up.
Are the Raiders the wild cart of the draft?
ESPN’s Dan Graziano reported that he doesn’t believe the Raiders will take a quarterback at 4 or that they plan to move up.
But if any team is in position to make a big move, it’s the Raiders, who own four picks in the top 35. Some people think they will make a big move up.
The Athletic’s John Middlekauff guessed in his mock draft that the Cardinals would pass on Murray at No. 1, prompting the Raiders to move up.
Mays similarly explained that any team in the top three could be motivated to trade down with the Raiders, as they could get the 4th pick, plus a pick in the 20s, plus a second-rounder – a potential big haul.
Mays also pointed out that the Raiders need to be able to sell their team as they move to Las Vegas next season. They have a star receiver in Antonio Brown. Acquiring Murray, the biggest name in the draft, might fit their goals, not to mention, make them more flexible on offense.
Some, like ESPN’s Paul Gutierrez, think otherwise. Raiders GM Mike Mayock recently lamented that the Raiders don’t have a third-round pick and that he likes drafting from 20-60. Gutierrez believes the Raiders could trade one of their top 35 picks to move back in the draft.
The waiting game
Part of the mystery of this year’s draft is that there haven’t been any significant moves yet.
Three years ago, the Los Angeles Rams and Philadelphia Eagles both made big moves before the draft to get the first and second picks, respectively, making it clear they were going to select quarterbacks (Jared Goff and Carson Wentz).
Last year, the Jets made a big pre-draft trade with the Indianapolis Colts to move up three spots. They eventually drafted Sam Darnold with the third pick.
This year, there have been no such trades. The draft is always filled with smoke, as teams hide their intentions and try to mislead others. It appears this year’s draft will come down to the wire, and teams will wait to see how it shakes out before making any radical moves. The draft could play out in simplistic order. Or it could become chaos.
- Read more NFL draft coverage:
- How and when to watch the 2019 NFL draft
- The Cardinals may have a hard time trading Josh Rosen if they draft Kyler Murray
- The Raiders sent their scouts home 6 days before the draft because the new GM reportedly ‘does not know who he can trust with his draft secrets’
- The 27 biggest NFL Draft busts of the last 15 years