Kyler Murray a live longshot for NFL Offensive Player of the Year
After an impressive rookie season, is there a case to consider wagering on Kyler Murray as a longshot to win the 2020-21 NFL Offensive Player of the Year?
Less than five months out from the start of his sophomore season as Arizona Cardinals quarterback, the odds of Murray winning the award are currently +3300 at BetAmerica.
Patrick Mahomes is the favorite to win the award, followed by Baltimore Ravens QB Lamar Jackson, Seattle Seahawks signal caller Russell Wilson, and Carolina Panthers RB Christian McCaffrey.
But if you’re looking to the longshots for value, Murray should have the opportunity to take a significant step forward next season. Will it be enough to win the award?
Odds to win NFL Offensive Player of the Year
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Murray had a huge impact as a rookie
The Cardinals had the worst offense in the NFL in 2018. They averaged 14.1 points per game and 241 yards per game – lowly totals that definitely helped Arizona secure the No. 1 pick in the 2019 NFL Draft.
There was very little doubt that Kyler Murray would go No. 1 overall to the Cardinals. And with him leading the offense, the Cardinals started to turn things around last season.
The Cardinals averaged 22.6 points per game on offense last season, tying them for the 16th best average in the NFL. They finished 21st with 341.7 yards per game.
This offense will need further improvement to reach elite territory, but last year was a big step in the right direction.
Murray threw for 3,722 yards, 20 touchdowns, and 12 interceptions, while adding 544 rushing yards and five touchdowns. His exceptional production earned him Offensive Rookie of the Year honors.
Murray should have more support in 2020
The makeover of the Cardinals offense is already well underway with their new franchise quarterback.
And they have continued to add important pieces around him.
They got younger at running back, acquiring Kenyan Drake, now 26 years old, from the Miami Dolphins midway through last season, and later trading 28-year-old running back David Johnson to the Houston Texans for star receiver DeAndre Hopkins this offseason.
Drake was underutilized in Miami, but made an impact in Arizona’s offense last year with 643 yards rushing and eight touchdowns in eight games. He can be used as a dual threat running back.
The biggest move, however, was bringing in Hopkins to head-up this receiving corps.
Hopkins has reached 1,000 yards receiving in five of his seven seasons, and was Deshaun Watson’s favorite target in Houston.
The Cardinals offense had a nice rebound last year. Larry Fitzgerald and Christian Kirk led the way, but the Cardinals still didn’t have one player with more than 1,000 receiving yards.
Acquiring Hopkins gives Murray an elite receiver, which they need with Fitzgerald turning 37 years old in August, Kirk continuing his development, and questions about the production Arizona might get from the tight end position.
Maximizing the Murray-Hopkins connection will be crucial to Murray winning Offensive Player of the Year as a longshot.
Draft presents opportunity to beef up offensive line
The Cardinals have the eighth overall pick in the first round of the NFL Draft on Thursday.
It’s unlikely, following the acquisition of Hopkins, that they’ll use that selection to grab one of the top-three ranked receivers – CeeDee Lamb, Jerry Jeudy or Henry Ruggs III – but protecting their franchise QB should be part of their draft plan this week.
There are four offensive tackles to keep an eye on: Jedrick Wills, Tristan Wirfs, Mekhi Becton and Andrew Thomas.
It’s possible one, if not all four, of those names are available when the Cardinals are on the clock.