Steve Keim: Cardinals Didn't Draft Kyler Murray No. 1 'To Ride the Pine'

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistMay 2, 2019

Arizona Cardinals NFL football quarterback Kyler Murray is introduced, Friday, April 26, 2019, at the Cardinals' practice facility in Tempe, Ariz. Murray was the first overall pick in the 2019 NFL Football draft. (AP Photo/Matt York)
Matt York/Associated Press

Kyler Murray may only be a rookie quarterback joining a team that went 3-13 last season, but expect him to start right away for the Arizona Cardinals in 2019. 

"We didn't draft him No. 1 overall to ride the pine," Cardinals general manager Steve Keim said on Monday's episode of the Rich Eisen Show. "I know it's a lot to put on his back, but that's why we drafted him. He's a fierce competitor, and that's what he did at Oklahoma this year. He put the team on his back. They didn't have a great defense, and he knew he had to score almost every series to give them a chance to win."

It's hard to argue with Keim's assessment of Murray's situation at Oklahoma.

The Sooners were an ugly 102nd in the country in points allowed per game last season but still reached the College Football Playoff and won the Big 12 title because Murray threw for 4,361 yards, 42 touchdowns and seven interceptions while adding 1,001 yards and 12 scores on the ground.

He won the Heisman Trophy for his efforts.

Arizona cleared the path to the starting spot when it traded Josh Rosen, who it selected with the No. 10 overall pick in last year's draft, to the Miami Dolphins. That means new head coach Kliff Kingsbury will have his hand-picked quarterback in place as he attempts to turn around a team that missed the playoffs each of the last three years.

Murray will play behind an offensive line Football Outsiders ranked just 25th in the league for run blocking and 26th for pass protection during the 2018 campaign. That will test his ability to evade pressure, hit receivers downfield on the run and quickly make the right reads.

How well he's able to do so as the starter will determine the fate of the Kingsbury era.