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Monson: Kyler Murray, entering pivotal Year 3, needs to take next step along with Cardinals' offense

Nov 19, 2020; Seattle, Washington, USA; Arizona Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury talks with quarterback Kyler Murray (1) during a fourth quarter timeout against the Seattle Seahawks at Lumen Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Quarterback Kyler Murray, head coach Kliff Kingsbury and the rest of the Arizona Cardinals are at a crossroads as the 2021 NFL season approaches. A team that was coming from a low enough point to own the No. 1 overall pick of the 2019 NFL Draft when it selected Murray now needs to show it can take the next step. The Cardinals have made significant progress since picking at the top of the draft, but they clearly still have some ways to become a contender.

Murray was a special talent as a prospect when he came out of college, to the point that the Cardinals were prepared to cut bait on quarterback Josh Rosen just a year after spending a first-round draft pick on him. Murray was seen as such a significant upgrade over Rosen that the team jettisoned Rosen after a season in which he had no real shot to succeed, and the Cardinals were happy to overlook Murray’s unprecedented stature.

Russell Wilson, Drew Brees and other quarterbacks have changed perception when it comes to size and height at quarterback, but even by those standards, Murray pushes the boundaries. He barely cleared 5-foot-10 when measured at the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis, a full half-inch shorter than Wilson, whose height was enough of an issue to drop him to the third round of the 2012 NFL Draft.

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ISSUES OVER THE MIDDLE

Standing at 5-foot-10 is clearly not something that prevents someone from playing quarterback at the NFL level. Murray and Wilson were already massive outliers by the time they became serious NFL prospects, and they've already proven capable of working around whatever challenges that height presents. But the people who freak out over such measurements aren’t just inventing issues that don’t exist when they voice their concerns. As much as quarterbacks don’t always need to see over their offensive line and the defenders they are blocking — working their field vision through the lanes in between them instead — there are times when those lanes narrow and contract for shorter signal-callers.

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