By Chris Schisler
Aaron Murray seems to be the forgotten quarterback of the 2014 QB crop. The 6’1” 210 pound QB from Georgia merits a first round grade. He is arguably the most prolific SEC quarterback since Peyton Manning attended Tennessee; Murray is the SEC leader in passing yards and touchdowns. Another thing in Murray’s corner is that he has more experience than any other quarterback in this draft class as a 4 year starter in college’s most prolific football conference. Murray is thought of as a 3rd or 4th round talent and it really makes me scratch my head. If I was looking for a franchise quarterback, I would have to consider the huge presence Aaron Murray has under center.
Maybe I am crazy; I’m sure draft Twitter will jump over me like hyenas out for blood. I just can’t help but be a fan of Aaron Murray. In his freshman year he threw for 3,049 yards, 24 touchdowns and 8 interceptions. His sophomore year he threw for 3,149 yards, 35 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. While that was a high number of interceptions, Murray still had a TD to INT ratio of 7 TD for every INT. 2012 was Aaron Murray’s biggest statistical season in which he threw for 3,893 yards, 36 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. The moral of this statistical talk is that Aaron Murray’s production on the football should speak for itself.
Murray is not a boom or bust player. The truth is I could see Blake Bortles and Derrick Carr as exactly that. Bortles was not even on most people’s radars until his UCF Knights beat Louisville halfway through the season. There is no doubt that Bortles has the physical tools but his value is on his potential not what he is right now. When I look at Derrick Carr I honestly fear he could be a Kyle Boller type player. Carr has a rocket arm and is a physical specimen at the quarterback position. That being said he played at the smaller stage of Fresno State. and he has not always been impressive when in the spotlight. This was evidenced by Carr and his Fresno State Bull Dogs getting shellacked by a USC team that got their coach fired during the season. Brian Billick fell in love with Kyle Boller the athlete from Cal (A big school, but the comparison still works). When Boller got to the NFL he was exposed as a train wreck of a quarterback. Derrick Carr has potential but he is far from a sure fire thing in the pros. You know exactly what you will get in Aaron Murray. Murray will be a good quarterback right away and eventually I believe he might be great.
The most impressive thing to me is that Aaron Murray has gotten better in every season of his collegiate career. Before his ACL injury 2013 was his most impressive seasons although his junior year was the statistical peak. Georgia’s offense seemed like a M.A.S.H. unit in 2013 with many injuries. Murray faced adversity and played at a high level. The consistent improvement each season shows that Murray is coachable. What I see in Aaron Murray is a guy who has been depended on as a leader to take the Georgia Bull Dogs through the SEC gauntlet for 4 years. In other words Murray has the intangibles to go along with his talent.
Murray has a strong arm and can make every NFL throw. Murray is mechanically sound, with good accuracy and anticipation. He has a very strong pocket presence. Like the best NFL quarterbacks he is great at stepping up into the pocket or rolling out to his right while remaining a passer, keeping his eyes downfield. The ability to extend the play and make something special happen is the most undersold element of his impressive skill set. Murray has a high football IQ and was as impressive as anybody in college football in the clutch moments of the game.
Murray is not perfect but I do think his flaws are overblown when people talk about his draft stock. Murray’s biggest flaw is that he tends to stare down receivers at times, a cardinal sin that leads to interceptions. Murray keeps his eyes downfield and throws some seemingly blind short passes. Murray will make some boneheaded throws. I once said about Murray that I never knew what to think about him. He can be so impressive and be on a complete tear and then make a frustrating mistake. There is a Brett Favre like quality to Murray who is best when he just lets it fly. Sometimes it is hard to root for Aaron Murray but it’s even harder not to.
This is a quarterback who is not a finished product and is more of project than some coaches want to take on. I would argue however that he has the highest floor other than Teddy Bridgewater and that his ceiling is very high. I see Aaron Murray as a first round talent but I seem to be in the minority in that opinion. Murray will likely go in the third round and he will be an absolute steal. The worst you’re going to get in Murray is an Andy Dalton. He may end up being a great quarterback. Say what you will about me because I said what needed to be heard. I have no problem putting my reputation on the line by saying that Murray is a stud QB prospect and the most underrated player in this draft class.