Former NFL player and scout Bucky Brooks knows the ins and outs of this league, providing keen insight in his notebook. The topics of this edition include:
-- The NFL coaching staff setting a new standard.
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With buzz buildingaround the league that the Cardinals will select quarterback Kyler Murray with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, there's been tons of speculation that Arizona may be looking to trade 2018 first-rounder Josh Rosen. But if the franchise thinks it'll recoup a future top pick for its current signal-caller, it may be in for a rude awakening.
I know it's hard to imagine the 10th overall player from only a year ago worth anything less than a first-round pick, or maybe a high second, but similar to a new car driven off the lot, many draft picks lose significant value immediately after being selected. Still, I was surprised to hear talk that No. 3 might not fetch more than a third-rounder on the trade market. Talk about a depreciable asset!
That return is what a general manager told Football Morning in America's Peter King, and I confirmed that opinion when I spoke to a handful of scouts and decision-makers over the past few days.
"Talent-wise, he's a first-rounder," said an AFC assistant general manager. "However, I still have some of the same concerns about him that I had when he was coming out. I'm guessing a team will give up a second- or third-round pick for him because he has a cost-controlled contract for the next three years. ... However, how many teams did the deep dive on the quarterbacks last year and really know the kid?
"Remember some quarterback-needy teams passed on him last year."
I spoke to an AFC college scouting director who echoed those sentiments, saying he didn't see enough growth from Rosen in Year 1 to warrant a top pick in a swap.
"That's a hard one," he said, when asked about Rosen's value. "I wouldn't give up much because I saw a lot of the same problems that I saw on tape when he was coming out of UCLA. I would probably settle on a third because he has some value as a developmental prospect at the right price."
Despite feeling more positively about Rosen, an NFC pro personnel director actually thought the QB's value was even lower.
"I would give them a fourth for him," the NFC pro personnel director said. "I liked him coming out, and I thought he did some good things. They couldn't protect him and they switched offensive coordinators in the middle of the year. He also didn't have any weapons. ... He still battled and competed."
That type of return was certainly not what I expected -- nor what the Cardinals hope will be the case -- for a quarterback Arizona traded up five spots to draft (giving up a third- and a fifth-rounder to do so) not even 12 months ago. Granted, while a pair of mid-round selections could bring back a couple of solid role players, teams don't count on finding blue-chip players or difference makers in the later rounds. Thus, the Cardinals' traded away assets aren't necessarily as significant as they appear on paper.
That said, you still don't like to lose value on any player, particularly one that was expected to be a marquee guy. If the Cards do in fact take Murray with the first pick, and only get a third in return, the Murray-for-Rosen switch would break down like this:
Josh Rosen (2018 No. 10 overall pick)
2018 No. 15 overall pick
2018 third-round pick
2018 fifth-round pick
Studying Rosen from his rookie season, I saw him flash the same pocket passing skills that made him a coveted QB1 prospect in the 2019 draft. When given sufficient time, he can carve up defenses with accurate darts on touch, timing and anticipatory throws. Rosen's outstanding arm talent makes him an ideal fit in an offense that features a heavy dose of traditional drop-back passes and play-action concepts from both shotgun and under center.
From a critical standpoint, Rosen's lack of mobility makes him a sitting duck when the pocket collapses. The Cardinals' shaky offensive line exposed his inability to escape pressure, which resulted in him taking a beating in the pocket. Additionally, the lack of consistent protection played a part in Rosen making a handful of mistakes that led to turnovers of errant throws.
Despite his mistake-filled season, I tend to agree with the pro personnel director and believe Rosen's toughness will be a major plus for teams contemplating trading for the young QB1. No. 3 never flinched under duress and that trait could serve him well as he matures into a solid starter.
With that in mind, I believe Rosen's game and his inexpensive rookie contract (three years, $6.2 million remaining, plus a team option in 2022) make him a great fit for several squads -- particularly those that have a veteran signal-caller nearing the end of his career. I'm not suggesting Rosen isn't talented enough to immediately step in and fill the QB1 void for a team, but if you look around the league, how many franchises need a new QB1 for 2019?
Here are the five squads that make the most sense:
Los Angeles Chargers:Philip Rivers is still playing at a high level for the Chargers, but he's nearing the end of his historic career. Rosen is the perfect replacement for No. 17. He's a polished pocket passer with a high football IQ and outstanding arm talent. He would upgrade the team's QB2 situation in the short term and would work well with the basketball-like crew of receivers the team has assembled on the perimeter in the long term.
New Orleans Saints: Sean Payton is unquestionably one of the top play designers in football, and he understands how to build a plan around the strengths of his quarterback. Rosen's skills as a classic drop-back passer complement the Saints' downhill running game and match the seam-based passing attack that's helped Drew Brees flourish in the Superdome.
New York Giants: Dave Gettleman passed on Rosen at No. 2 overall last year -- taking the 2019 Offensive Rookie of the Year, Saquon Barkley, instead -- but the Giants GM could be in the mix now if he can swing a deal for a bargain basement price. Rosen is a pocket passer in the mold of Eli Manning, but he's younger, more athletic and has better arm talent than the two-time Super Bowl MVP. In an offense that includes Barkley, Odell Beckham Jr., Sterling Shepard and Evan Engram, Rosen would thrive directing the show under Pat Shurmur's tutelage.
Miami Dolphins: With Ryan Tannehill on his way out the door, the Dolphins could look at Rosen as a low-cost replacement. The team's chameleon-like system should work well with Rosen and the team's perimeter playmakers. Although the Dolphins could have eyes on the 2020 quarterback class, the acquisition of Rosen could give them a long-term starter or a "bridge" quarterback based on his play.
HOLD THE PHONE: Why we shouldn't rush to judge Kyler Murray
Be careful reading too much into the rumors and scuttlebutt coming out of the NFL Scouting Combine when it comes to blue-chip prospects. Although the information floated in media circles typically features some truth, you can't treat it like it's the gospel. The interactions between coaches, scouts and players during the four-day event are frequently awkward, intense and challenging due to the different agendas of each participant.
"These were the worst comments I ever got on a top-rated quarterback, and I've been doing this a long time," said Casserly, who spent three decades in the NFL as a scout and a personnel executive with the Washington Redskins and Houston Texans. "Leadership -- not good. Study habits -- not good. The board work -- below not good."
"Not good at all in any of those areas, raising major concerns about what this guy is going to do,"
Wow! Those comments were like kerosene on a fire when they hit the Twitter-verse, with every talking head and draftnik weighing in with their thoughts. The comments appeared to open the floodgates from Murray's critics, with the Heisman Trophy winner even being accused of inflating his height at the NFL Scouting Combine.
I don't doubt Casserly's report, in terms of what he was told, but as he alludes to, there's only so much you can learn from a 15-minute interview, and, therefore, I'm not at all ready to dismiss Murray's potential as a franchise QB -- and neither will NFL teams. We are in the midst of smokescreen season, and we shouldn't be quick to judge a player -- whether it's Murray, or anyone else -- without taking in as much information as possible. Recently, Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley responded to the criticisms by describing Murray as a "tremendous leader" and suggested analysts should speak to the quarterback's former position coaches and teammates before making bold assertions about his character and leadership skills.
I agree with this premise based on how I was raised in the scouting business. As an area scout, I would interview a number of college coaches, administrators and teammates about prospects on school visits. I would also ask servers and bartenders at local restaurants about players to get a different perspective, as well as put in phone calls to high school teachers and coaches. By the end of all these conversations, I had formed a pretty good profile of the prospect before heading into the final meetings conducted in the few weeks leading up to the draft.
That's why I wouldn't put a lot of stock into the reactions from 15-minute interviews at the combine. Remember, these interviews are often conducted with the general manager, head coach, personnel director, college scouting director and the area scout assigned to his region. Although you have a number of decision makers in the room, each has a different set of questions and interpretations to the answers.
Moreover, you might not have a panel with diverse backgrounds and life experiences assessing the reactions of the player and his interactions with the people in the room. Some prospects are more comfortable with certain guys based on their personality or communication skills.
That's why Los Angeles Chargers' head coach Anthony Lynn can walk away from his meeting with Murray feeling the Sooners' quarterback was "impressive," "sharp" and had great recall on the board, per NFL Network's Jim Trotter.
With that in mind, it will be interesting to see how scouts interpret Murray's interactions at Oklahoma's pro day. Last year, the Cleveland Browns reportedly fell in love with Baker Mayfield after watching him have a "Pied Piper" effect on his teammates. It is possible that Murray has the same kind of impact on his teammates when evaluators see him in his natural environment.
If that's the case, how does the perception of Murray change in the minds of evaluators in the scouting community? Although some negative comments may have torpedoed Murray's standing in the court of public opinion, the scouting community will dig a little deeper before casting the Heisman Trophy winner aside.
TWO-POINT CONVERSION: Quick takes on developments across the NFL
1) Tyreek Hill is about to cash in: I'm not ready to anoint Tyreek Hill as the top receiver in football, but the two-time All Pro is about to raise the bar for compensation at the position. The Kansas City Chiefs are close to giving the electric playmaker a record-setting contract that could make him the first $100 million man at wideout, per NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport.
While that number might make some observers cry out at the idea that a wide receiver is worth "quarterback" money, Hill's new contract could change the way the football world values playmakers on the perimeter. Unlike Antonio Brown, Odell Beckham Jr., Julio Jones and DeAndre Hopkins who are regarded as true No. 1 receivers, Hill is a "flex" player with dynamic skills as a receiver, runner and returner. No. 10 can impact that game in a variety of ways that extend beyond just catching passes.
In three seasons, Hill has posted a pair of 1,000-yard receiving seasons and tallied 34 total touchdowns (25 receiving, four rushing and five kick/punt returns). Not to mention, he has 50 career receptions of at least 20 yards and 19 receptions of 40-plus yards in three seasons. With Hill also posting seven runs of 20-plus yards during that span and providing numerous highlight reel-worthy kick returns, the Chiefs are wise to lock up the game's ultimate offensive weapon to a lucrative extension that keeps him tied to NFL MVP Patrick Mahomes during his prime years.
Looking at the potential numbers, Hill should come in with a contract that surpasses the five-year, $90 million deal signed by OBJ a season ago. Surprassing Beckham's $18 million annual average looks like a large feat on paper, but the Chiefs' deal with Sammy Watkins (three-year, $48 million) makes a $20 million annual average for Hill certainly seem possible. Hill and Travis Kelce are clearly the top options on the perimeter, and you can make the argument Hill is Playmaker No.1 on the Chiefs' roster.
With that in mind, it is reasonable to expect the team to slide a deal across the table that re-establishes the receiver market. You can debate his standing among the "elites," but you can't dispute his production and impact as a playmaker. With Hill entering the last year of a rookie contract that will pay him $2 million in 2019, the Chiefs don't have a choice but to break the bank to keep No.10 in red.
2) Bruce Arians' diverse coaching staff needs to be recognized: I don't know if Bruce Arians will go down as one of the greatest coaches in NFL history, but he will certainly be viewed as one of the game's most influential leaders based on his commitment to diversity in the coaching ranks. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers new head coach continues to be at the forefront of the movement when he told Melissa Jacobs of TheFootballGirl.com that he plans to establish a full-time coaching position on his staff for a woman.
At a time when the NFL is being heavily scrutinized for the lack of minorities hired during the last coaching cycle, Arians has been the most inclusive coach in the league. The Buccaneers became the first team in NFL history to have three African-American coaches in coordinator positions (Byron Leftwich, offensive coordinator; Todd Bowles, defensive coordinator; Keith Armstrong, special teams coordinator). His assistant head coach, Harold Goodwin, is also African-American.
As the leader of one of the most diverse staffs in the NFL, Arians has provided a number of minorities and ex-players with prime opportunities to advance their careers under his tutelage. Sure, the league is full of minorities in the coaching ranks, but few staffs have minorities in the leadership positions that catapult assistant coaches into head coach candidates.
"It tells you what kind of man he is," Goodwin told reporters at an introductory press conference in January, per Pewter Report. "He doesn't see color or where you came from. He doesn't care how you got here. As long as you get with him and if you're loyal to him and he can trust you, he's always going to look out for you."
To that point, Arians has embraced the mentorship role when it comes to grooming his assistant coaches for head coaching positions. He has not only promoted his assistants at every turn, but he has provided them with legitimate opportunities to showcase their skills.
"I've always felt like it's my job as a coach to get the next group of great coaches ready," Arians said at his introductory press conference, per the Bucs team website. "Coordinators pushing to be head coaches ... push those guys out into the public and have the next people ready, then have the next guys ready to take their job. That's one of the reasons we have a large staff. I feel very strongly that's one of my jobs."
With Arians intent on adding a full-time female assistant, he is on the verge of changing the football landscape when it comes to creating opportunities in the league. Not that I'm surprised, he hired Dr. Jen Welter to serve as the first female assistant coach when she joined the Arizona Cardinals for the 2015 preseason as a coaching intern.
Considering the rave reviews Welter received for her work, I believe Arians found value in bringing in different people from diverse backgrounds to teach, develop and influence football players.
The best coaches in the league are exceptional teachers who possess an ability to connect with players on an intimate level. Arians has discovered that coaches with varied experiences can benefit the team and its players. I can only hope more coaches will eventually come to the same realization.