TEMPE, Ariz. — A.Q. Shipley knows a thing or two — or five — about snapping to first overall picks.
The Arizona Cardinals center has snapped to five quarterbacks who were drafted first overall throughout his 11-year career: Michael Vick, Andrew Luck, Carson Palmer, Sam Bradford and, now, Kyler Murray.
He’s snapped to three of them — Luck, Palmer and Murray — during games, tying Shipley with former NFL center and former teammate Samson Satele as the only centers since 1967 to start a game snapping to three No. 1 picks, according to Elias. Shipley snapped to the other two — Vick and Bradford — during practice.
“I don’t know what it means,” Shipley said with a laugh. “I’m lucky, I guess. I think that’s the best way to put it.”
Shipley’s career has lasted more than a decade. He’s played for five teams, including stints on practice squads, before finally, two years ago, earning his first multiyear contract.
During that time, he’s played with some of the best quarterbacks of this generation.
He used one adjective to blanket all five first overall picks: “Phenomenal.”
Shipley said he’s gotten better as he’s learned from them, and that all of them share a common thread: an immense work ethic on and off the field.
“They can all just spin it, every one of them,” Shipley said. “To be No. 1 overall, I mean, you have to be supremely talented and it’s an incredible honor to go No. 1 overall.”
Shipley sat down with ESPN to break down each of the No. 1 picks to whom he’s snapped:
Michael Vick, 2010-2011
“He just always had that home run capability with his legs, that was the one thing. You don’t know if he’s gonna take off running so you can’t have a clock in your head. You gotta just block and block and block, and the good news was you didn’t have to be perfect on things because if something came free or someone missed, he could make someone miss and then he’s one-on-one with the safety and that’s never a good thing for that safety. But, at the end of the day, too, he’d run that play-action and just flick his wrist and that thing was 70 yards in the air. He’s one of the strongest arms you’ll ever see. He was a super impressive football player. Great leader. Great teammate.”
Andrew Luck, 2012 and 2014
“Andrew was awesome. He was very, very, very, very, very smart from Day 1. He came in and just understood protections, understood defenses so well. Just had a ton of talent. Better runner than most people ever gave him credit for. Big as can be, could take hits. He was one of the toughest dudes you’ll ever see take hits. One of the best deep-ball throwers I’ve seen. One of the better guys I’ve ever seen when you’re down in the fourth quarter. A guy you want in your huddle. You knew who was running the huddle. You knew who was the leader. He was the guy. One of the better generals I’ve played with.”
Carson Palmer, 2015-2017
“Carson’s one of my favorite teammates of all time. Probably the best deep-ball thrower I’ve played with. One of the smartest guys I ever played with. More impressed with the way he prepared. I just loved watching him work and the way he prepared and he’s super smart. He was always on it. I mean, he understood protections better than any quarterback I ever played with, so we were always on the same page. … Carson was incredible in the huddle. Great leader. He was just so smart, so confident. He knew how to get the best out of his guys.”
Sam Bradford, 2018
“Sam was great and, obviously, I didn’t get a chance to play in a game with him [because Shipley tore his ACL during training camp that season] but we spent the preseason and the offseason together. He was fantastic. I’ll say this: He was arguably the most accurate thrower I’ve ever played with. Just watching him throw the ball in practice, I mean, dudes weren’t even out of their break and the ball’s right on the money. You know where it was at all times. Super smart. Understood everything. Understood the run game. There’s a reason he obviously went No. 1 overall. Great leader. You can tell he had command, you can tell he was confident, you could tell he’s run a lot NFL huddles at a very high level and he’s very very, very, very, sharp.”
Kyler Murray, 2019
“He’s been super impressive. Super, super talented guy. The way he throws the ball, the way he can run, the way he can command this offense, from Day 1 was super impressive. Granted, very similar offense to what he ran in college, some of the things like the cadence and things like that, so he was up to beat and up to speed on that stuff. So, just being able to watch him come in at 21 , 22 years old and hold all the pressure and take all control of this team has been super impressive to watch. Commands [the huddle] very well. He’s very, very, very, very good at getting the information that he gets, relaying it to the guys, getting everybody set up, tempo, let’s go and get it going. That’s obviously a great testament to who he is because there’s so many signals and so many things that we’re doing, he’s got to be able to do. He’s been on top of it since Day 1.”