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Kyler Murray drafted No. 1 overall by Arizona Cardinals

"I'd take him with the first pick in the draft if I could," then-Texas Tech head coach Kliff Kingsbury said boasting about "freak" quarterback Kyler Murray ahead of a matchup against Oklahoma.

The effort to extol proved prophetic.

With the No. 1 overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, Kingsbury's new team, the Arizona Cardinals, made Murray the first pick Thursday night in Nashville.

After months of subterfuge, wielding a smoke screen as thick as pea soup in an attempt to convince the football sphere they weren't going to do what everyone thought they were going to do, the Cardinals made the presumptive first pick a quarterback believed to fit perfectly into Kingsbury's Air Raid system.

The 2018 Heisman Trophy winner might be shorter in stature, but boasts a strong, acutely accurate arm to pair with dynamic running ability. Far from a run-first signal-caller, Murray averaged 11.6 yards per pass attempt in 2018, the highest such average by an FBS QB with 200-plus attempts in a single season over the last five years.

In his only season as a full-time starter at Oklahoma, Murray completed 69.0 percent of his 377 pass attempts for 4,361 yards and 42 touchdowns to just seven interceptions. He also added 1,001 rushing yards (7.2 per attempt) and 12 rushing scores. Only two FBS QBs have ever had 4,000-plus passing yards and 1,000-plus rushing yards in a single season. The first was former Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson in 2015 (4,109 passing yards and 1,105 rushing yards). The second was Murray.

Murray throws an accurate ball on all three levels of the field plane and owns elite pin-point touch on deep tosses, completing 18 TDs on passes that traveled at least 20 yards in the air, per Pro Football Focus.

The selection of the 5-foot-10 quarterback No. 1 overall might signal a breakthrough at the pro level, where scouts ordinarily drool over perceived physical traits of bigger pocket throwers. After Russell Wilson fell to the third-round in 2012, leaving many teams kicking themselves for not selecting the short but dynamic quarterback, the Cardinals didn't pass up on Murray because of perceived notions about smaller signal-callers.

Murray is an alluring athlete however you cut it. The Oklahoma quarterback became the first player to ever be a first-round pick in both the MLB and NFL drafts -- No. 9 overall in the 2018 MLB draft by the Oakland Athletics. It will be interesting to see if Murray's eventual contract includes a clause precluding him from pursuing baseball, as former first-overall pick Jameis Winston's did with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2015.

The selection also becomes a feather in the cap of Sooners fans. With Murray and Cleveland Browns' Baker Mayfield going first overall in consecutive seasons, Oklahoma became the first school to have QBs selected in the first round in back-to-back NFL drafts. Only once before has one school produced back-to-back No. 1 overall picks: Hall of Famers Ron Yary and O.J. Simpson out of USC in 1968 and 1969.

Kingsbury's planned offense portends the perfect situation for Murray, with its pass-first orientation that can take advantage of the quarterback's quick trigger, accuracy, pocket mobility, and running acumen.

"The ability to grab it, throw it, move around, slide in the pocket, create on the run, throw guys open, the threat of running," an NFC scouting director said of Murray to NFL Network's Tom Pelissero. "He's just a dynamic playmaker. He's not for everybody. Like, he would really struggle, in my opinion, in Jon Gruden's offense, that old West Coast with the timing and accuracy. But in an offense like Kliff's, he could really excel."

As the Cardinals attempt to rebuild a Swiss-cheese roster that finished 2018 3-13, providing Kingsbury with his preferred quarterback is a monumental move for Arizona.

Attention will soon turn to how the Cards handle incumbent quarterback Josh Rosen, whom they used a first-round pick on last year.

Thursday's first pick, however, was Murray's moment and all that it means for the future in Arizona under Kingsbury.

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