A thin NFL Draft class at quarterback benefits the San Francisco 49ers, who select at No. 2 overall. But Oklahoma’s Kyler Murray declaring might change all that between now and April.
Unlike 2018, the 2019 NFL Draft isn’t exactly laden with prospective quarterback talent.
The San Francisco 49ers, who select at No. 2 overall this April, don’t need a quarterback. They already have Jimmy Garoppolo under center for the foreseeable future and will likely look to use their first pick on a top-tier defender or, potentially, trade it down to one of a number of quarterback-hungry teams in exchange for a massive ransom of draft capital or player personnel.
Murray was also selected by MLB’s Oakland Athletics at No. 9 overall in that league’s own draft. That’s a conundrum for Murray, who may easily wind up making more money in the majors. But the path to pro baseball is always more precarious than that of a top NFL rookie.
Before Murray declared, Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins was widely viewed as the league’s best prospective signal-caller this April, followed by Missouri’s Drew Lock.
The Arizona Cardinals, who select first overall in the draft, probably won’t take a quarterback after selecting UCLA’s Josh Rosen a year ago. But after hiring Kliff Kingsbury as head coach earlier this month, who commented earlier about taking the 5-foot-10 quarterback first overall “if he could,” might at least make things interesting.
Still, don’t expect the Cardinals to make such a drastic change.
There are, however, plenty of other teams drafting high and also likely in the market for a quarterback. The Cincinnati Bengals (No. 11), Denver Broncos (No. 10), Jacksonville Jaguars (No. 7), New York Giants (No. 6), Tampa Bay Buccaneers (No. 5) and, arguably, the Oakland Raiders (No. 4) could be on the hunt for their next franchise guy under center.
Murray declaring might make things go one of a number of different directions. Along with Haskins, Murray increases the possible early Round 1 quarterbacking pool, which could dilute the market for a possible trade-up with the 49ers. Or, just as feasibly, it might wind up leading to a bidding war between teams seeing Murray as the guy they want under center. San Francisco could benefit from that.
Yet there’s another factor here. Murray’s MLB status may eventually cost him some draft status, too. Teams could easily be wary of a possible departure from the NFL to pursue a baseball dream instead, which would lessen the likelihood of a team dishing out a top pick on his services, particularly one involving what would be a lucrative trade-up with a team like the Niners.
The ongoing negotiations with the A’s will be something to monitor, as will Murray’s performances at the 2019 NFL Scouting Combine.
In the meantime, San Francisco will look to maximize whatever leverage it can.