Just one year ago, the Arizona Cardinals were preparing to embark on their first season under first-time head coach Kliff Kingsbury, who was armed with a No. 1 overall pick at quarterback.
Those Cardinals finished 5-10-1. At least one of their key players is talking as if they're about to reverse that record -- and then some.
"I feel like the hype is warranted, to be honest," running back Kenyan Drake said during an appearance on Good Morning Football on Thursday. "When you add arguably the best receiver in the league in DeAndre Hopkins, the most electric quarterback in the league in Kyler Murray, you add me to the fold, you add a couple more pieces to the O-line, on defense, you draft a (Swiss Army) knife in Isaiah Simmons, shore up the D-line and bring in other people to build a great puzzle... (That's) what we have in Arizona. I feel like we're going to go out there and really take the league by storm, especially our division."
The last part of Drake's quote might be the most surprising -- even more than the disregard for the existence of Lamar Jackson, whose 2019 MVP would point to him, not Murray, as the NFL's most electric at his position. The Cardinals currently reside in one of the tougher divisions in the NFL, a four-team group that features the reigning NFC champions and another legitimate contender in Seattle. It's not exactly child's play in the NFC West.
These kids are up for the task, though, according to Drake.
"This year we have another year under our belt," Drake explained. "Kyler continued to get better, game in, game out, and now he has another year under his belt. Kliff has a year under his belt as well. I mean, it was just so much inexperience. Now coming in with another year of that experience, we just really gonna do what we have to do and let our talent speak for itself."
These Cardinals are all about speed. Murray won Offensive Rookie of the Year by using his rare talents to post a completion percentage of 64.4, a 20-12 touchdown-to-interception ratio and a passer rating of 87.4. His 62 rushes in which he reached 15-plus mph were the most in the NFL (minimum 50 rushes), according to Next Gen Stats. That combination is a nightmare for opposing defenses.
Drake's top-end speed that made him a coveted recruit at Alabama shined once he was traded from Miami to Arizona last season. Drake reached 15-plus mph on 26.8 percent of his rushes with the Cardinals, as opposed to hitting that speed threshold on just 14.9 percent of his carries with the Dolphins in the same season. His 33 rushes of 15-plus mph were the second-most in the entire NFL from Weeks 9-17 in 2019.
But wait, there's more. Running back Chase Edmonds owns a deserving place in the Next Gen spreadsheet. His 20 rushes of 15-plus mph on just 59 rushes resulted in the highest percentage of what we'd deem explosive runs (minimum 50 rushes) in the entire NFL.
There's room for growth for Murray, too, as evidenced by Murray's -1.5 completion percentage under expectation, according to Next Gen Stats.
One area of improvement for Murray is his play when under duress. The mobile quarterback wasn't pressured often, but when he was, he was among the league's worst in advanced metrics. Murray posted a -19 completion percentage under expectation when pressured and a passer rating of just 42.3 in such situations. An important detail lingers, though: Murray only attempted 29 passes under pressure in 2019, leaving little room for error but also revealing an area in which he can get better.
If the Cardinals can check all of these boxes, we might look back on June 18, 2020, as the day Kenyan Drake predicted the future. At the bare minimum, it's reason for optimism, and we could all use some of that right about now.