NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE – The Arizona Cardinals selected Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft on Thursday night.
The pick unites Murray with Kliff Kingsbury in Arizona, seven years after the coach first began pursuit of the player.
“This is where I wanted to be,” said Murray, the 2018 Heisman Trophy winner. “I feel we can be very dangerous. He’s one of the best in the world at calling plays and (a top) offensive mind, so for me, I can’t wait to get up there with him. It’s been a long time coming, and I hope he feels the same.”
While Murray was the crown jewel of the draft, the night belonged to defenders.
Eighteen defensive players, including 13 defensive linemen (counting Josh Allen and Brian Burns as defensive ends), were selected in a first round bereft of skill-position players until a run in the bottom third of the top 32.
The San Francisco 49ers selected Ohio State defensive end Nick Bosa with the second overall pick, and the New York Jets followed by taking Alabama defensive tackle Quinnen Williams at No. 3.
“Nick Bosa is a player we have long coveted,” 49ers general manager John Lynch said.
Bosa, widely considered the draft’s best or second-best player, wound up going one pick higher than his brother, Joey Bosa, whom the then-San Diego Chargers took third overall in 2016.
Their father, John Bosa, was also a first-round defensive end, taken 16th overall by the Miami Dolphins in 1987. An uncle of Joey Bosa and Nick Bosa, Eric Kumerow, was also a defensive end drafted 16th overall by Miami in 1988.
Nick Bosa was limited to three games for the Buckeyes in 2018 due to a core muscle injury, but he still managed four sacks and six tackles for loss. He had 8.5 sacks and 16 tackles for loss in 2017 as a true sophomore.
Williams, whom some put ahead of Bosa as the draft’s top player, came out of nowhere last season to become a consensus All-American and win the Outland Trophy winner, given to the best interior lineman in college football.
“You combine the technique, you combine the instincts, you combine the athletic ability. I think he has the parts and pieces to be a really good player,” Jets general manager Mike Maccagnan said.
The pick marked the 11th straight year in which an Alabama player has gone in the first round.
The fourth selection of the draft brought the first major surprise, with the Oakland Raiders opting for Clemson defensive end Clelin Ferrell. The Raiders added Alabama running back Josh Jacobs with the 24th pick and hard-hitting safety Johnathan Abrams of Mississippi State 27th, two picks received in the trades of linebacker Khalil Mack (Bears) and wide receiver Amari Cooper (Cowboys).
Two more Clemson D-linemen, defensive tackles Christian Wilkins (13th, Miami Dolphins) and Dexter Lawrence (17th, Giants), were also first-rounders. Another ACC pass rusher, Florida State defensive end Burns, was the 10th defensive player drafted in the top 16.
Tampa Bay went for defense at No. 5, taking LSU linebacker Devin White. He racked up 256 tackles (25.5 for loss), 7.5 sacks, nine pass breakups and one interception over the last two seasons for the Tigers, winning the Butkus Award as the nation’s top linebacker in 2018.
The New York Giants made waves with the sixth overall pick and wound up taking three players — including Georgia cornerback Deandre Baker 30th via trade — in the first round for the time in franchise history.
The team’s original selection was No. 6, and it was a shocker — Duke quarterback Daniel Jones as the apparent successor to Eli Manning. Jones said Thursday he was unaware he’d be selected by the Giants until his phone rang moments before the official announcement was made.
Jones went ahead of Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins (15th, Washington Redskins), and deep connections to current Giants employees were a factor. Jones played at Duke under head coach David Cutcliffe, who coached both Peyton and Eli Manning in college and remains a mentor for both. Jones’ personal quarterbacks coach, David Morris, also played under Cutcliffe while backing up Eli Manning at Ole Miss.
Next, the Jacksonville Jaguars capitalized on the slide of Kentucky defensive end Allen at No. 7 overall. Allen led the FBS with 17 sacks in 2018.
At No. 8 overall, the Detroit Lions took Iowa tight end T.J. Hockenson, the first tight end drafted by any team in the top 10 since Detroit took Eric Ebron 10th overall in 2014.
Hockenson was the Mackey Award winner — as the nation’s top tight end — in 2018 after totaling 49 catches for 760 yards and six touchdowns, plus a seventh on the ground.
IN FIVE EASY PIECES WITH TAKE 5