The 2019 NFL Draft is fewer than 24 hours away, and the game is afoot.
After months of
"will they or won't they" "they will" speculation surrounding their interest in Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Kyler Murray, a recent report indicated the Arizona Cardinals might not draft the QB with the No. 1 overall pick after all. That did not pass ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay's sniff test, and he told Ryen Russillo that the latest rumor merely is a ruse.
"Part of the reason all these things are leaking, if it turns out Arizona just stays home and takes Kyler, I think the reason they’re leaking is that Arizona is trying to get (the 49ers) to move up to just get an extra pick to move back a spot to take Kyler,” McShay said on "The Rusillo Show" podcast (H/T Niners Wire).
If this is the Cardinals' plan, they'd be pulling a page from ... well, the team they are trying to take advantage of.
Back in 2017 -- the first draft with general manager John Lynch and coach Kyle Shanahan in the fold -- the 49ers traded back from the No. 2 spot to No. 3, getting two 2017 selections (Nos. 67 and 111 overall) and one in 2018 (No. 70) from the Chicago Bears. McShay speculated that Arizona isn't looking for the same haul, but if one team knows what a team's real intention of trading back a spot is, it's the 49ers.
San Francisco was not going to draft QB Mitchell Trubisky, and took advantage of Chicago's eagerness to make him the franchise signal-caller. If the Cardinals truly want Murray and are just trying to replicate that strategy, it's hard to imagine them finding their NFC West rivals to be willing partners -- especially considering how many elite defensive players the 49ers have met with in the pre-draft process.
Nick Bosa is the best edge-rushing prospect, but Josh Allen isn't far off and Alabama defensive tackle Quinnen Williams is considered by some to be the best player available. Thus, the 49ers don't need to select at No. 1 in order to draft an impact player. That might not have been the case if they wanted a quarterback, considering what trades for prospects like Carson Wentz and Jared Goff fetched within the last few seasons.
For all intents and purposes, the Cardinals are assumed by many to be the team who want a quarterback -- specifically Murray. If they pick him at No. 1, they'll likely have to settle for having their cake rather than eating it, too.