Why Kyler Murray, and other quarterbacks, may hold key to Bucs draft

Tampa Bay is hoping for as many quarterbacks to be selected ahead of its No. 5 pick as possible.
Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray goes through passing drills at the university's Pro Day for NFL scouts in Norman, Okla., Wednesday, March 13, 2019. (AP Photo/Alonzo Adams)
Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray goes through passing drills at the university's Pro Day for NFL scouts in Norman, Okla., Wednesday, March 13, 2019. (AP Photo/Alonzo Adams)
Published April 15

TAMPA — The quarterback draft class of 2019 will go a long way in determining the type of player the Bucs may be able to select at No. 5. They need several snap-takers to be snapped up quickly.

Oklahoma’s Kyler Murray, at 5-foot-10, may nonetheless stand helmet and shoulder pads over the others as a prospective first overall pick of the Cardinals. Or maybe they trade the selection to the Raiders at No. 4.

“Like the rest of the league, I think the kid is fascinating,” Raiders general manager Mike Mayock said of Murray. “It’s kind of where are we going as a league at the quarterback position. Is he too small? Is he dynamic? I think we’re all trying to figure him out. I think all 32 teams in the league are trying to figure out the entire position.”

And if you’re the Bucs, you want to sing the praises of Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins like Jon Gruden.

“Impressive guy, man,” Gruden said. “Redshirt sophomore, 50 touchdown passes at Ohio State. He’s a big guy, you feel his presence when he walks in a room. He’s a really calm, cool customer and they did a great job at Ohio State transitioning from an offense from a running quarterback to a passing quarterback. That’s why Urban Meyer is one of the great college coaches of all-time.”

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Why stop there? The Bucs have to hope the difference between Missouri’s Drew Lock and the Colts’ Andrew Luck may only be a vowel. They should remind everyone how Duke quarterback Daniel Jones played for David Cutcliffe, who developed Peyton and Eli Manning.

At worst, several teams drafting behind the Bucs — the Giants (No. 6), the Broncos (No. 8), the Bengals (No. 11), the Dolphins (No. 13) or Washington (No. 15) may want to offer Tampa Bay an attractive package of additional picks to swap spots in the first round.

“I guess it’s a nice place to be, if anybody wants it,” Bucs general manager Jason Licht said of the No. 5 slot. “We’d certainly listen. We did last year. It had to be the right amount of capital that we wanted. We’re not just going to give it away. I do feel like there are five players I would like to pick right now, so a lot goes into it.”

Unfortunately for the Bucs, there are signs that maybe the Cardinals are cooling on the idea of pairing Murray with new coach Kliff Kingsbury. They already have quarterback Josh Rosen, whom they took in the first round a year ago. And general manager Steve Keim may realize they could address their many needs with the proper haul of draft picks for the No. 1 spot.

The fact that Murray took visits to the Giants and Washington tells you teams are getting the feeling that the Cardinals, who have not tipped their hand, may be vacillating. There also would be a chain effect on the other quarterbacks if Murray drops.

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The Raiders own three first round picks this season. They have two more in 2020.

Of course, they also have Derek Carr. Both Mayock and Gruden have called Carr their “franchise quarterback.” But for how much longer?

Gruden always has had a wandering eye when it comes to quarterbacks. It’s one of the reasons Gruden’s QB Camp was such a popular segment when he was a broadcaster on ESPN.

“I had an opportunity, a unique opportunity to coach some really good players in Alabama at the Senior Bowl,” Gruden said. “The kid from North Carolina State (Ryan Finley) impressed me, I think Daniel Jones out of Duke has a huge upside. I think Drew Lock’s got a quick release, accurate passer, lot of production. Haskins we met … met Murray ... it’s a good class. If they get in the right system with the right coach, it could be a great class.”

Lock may have the strongest arm and he played all four seasons at Missouri, which is an advantage over one-year starters such as Murray and Haskins. Jones visited with the Giants, who also own the No. 17 pick.

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Of course, the notion that a team could draft a quarterback in the first round and develop him to the point where he re-signs a second contract and finishes his career there is a foreign one to the Bucs. It’s never happened in Tampa Bay. Jameis Winston is on the final year of his rookie deal that will pay him $20.9 million this season.

But instead of being in the QB market themselves, the Bucs hope to take advantage of a draft fertile in defensive talent.

The Bucs would be delighted if players such as Ohio State defensive end Nick Bosa, Alabama defensive tackle Quinnen Williams, Kentucky defensive end Josh Allen, Houston defensive tackle Ed Oliver or Mississippi State’s Montez Sweat were pushed to them at No. 5.

LSU linebacker Devin White is a legitimate option for the Bucs and would fill the void left by Kwon Alexander, who signed with the 49ers as a free agent.

But any discussion of the Bucs pick has to begin with quarterbacks and where they are drafted. And any discussion about quarterbacks begins with Murray.

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