There is no time of year in the NFL quite like the days following the draft. Each team has exceptionally high hopes for the prospects they’ve drafted and how they’ll fit in. Fans will spend the next few months convincing themselves that the player their team drafted was the guy they wanted the whole time, and that he’ll be a stud. It’s a time of endless, perhaps even reckless, optimism.
Let’s play right into that sense of reckless optimism and talk about the worst team in the NFL last year, the Arizona Cardinals. There’s been a changing of the guard in a big way with Kliff Kingsbury and Kyler Murray at the helm, and given how the rest of their draft went, it seems like they’re poised for a rebound year after finishing last in every category in 2018.
Plenty of digital ink has already been spilled about Murray and his fit with Kingsbury. It all starts and ends with him, and I firmly believe his talent far outweighs the doubts that pundits have obsessed over in the last three months. But the Cardinals built around him during the draft, and those picks will build the foundation for his, and therefore Arizona’s, success. Hakeem Butler, Andy Isabella, and KeeSean Johnson are going to flourish in the wide open space of an Air Raid offense; Butler can catch anything in his general vicinity, while Isabella is an absolute burner who put up big numbers at UMass, and Johnson has a natural feel for the position while being extremely productive throughout his college career. In tandem with Murray’s arm strength, accuracy, and scrambling ability, we’ll be seeing plenty of highlights from that trio.
On the other side of the ball, Byron Murphy possesses the traits to come in and make an instant impact. Learning from Patrick Peterson will help tremendously, and his technical expertise at cornerback makes for a high-floor, high-ceiling prospect. Zach Allen is a similar plug-and-play prospect who will take some time to develop into a full-time starter, but can help alleviate the focus on Chandler Jones across the line.
Arizona still needs offensive line help, but the Air Raid offense will take some pressure off the group. But they appear to have nailed their mid-round picks at the outset and got a future potential superstar at the No. 1 slot. There isn’t much more you could ask for from the worst team in the league, and come this time next year, they won’t be holding that particular honor.