Aaron Murray and the NFL Draft: The Decision is Actually Pretty Easy
Much has been said about DudeYouCrazy favorite Aaron Murray – the Murr-Man – and the NFL Draft over the past few weeks. I’m not complaining about that, and frankly I’m glad to see him getting the NFL Draft consideration that seems to be surprising to many. Even a number of my close buddies (fellow UGA fans) are stunned that Murray is so a highly regarded by NFL scouts and Draft theorists.
All that being said, I’m not sure that what some are portraying to be a hot-button issue really has that much controversy or variability to it. And, more importantly, I’m not sure that Aaron Murray’s decision is really all that complicated.
When an NFL Prospect is evaluated I would assume the following fields of characteristics are observed and analyzed:
- Previous Performance (College)
- Testing (Pro Day Performance)
- Physical Traits (Height, Weight, Strength, Speed, Athleticism, etc.)
- Skills (Passing, Cutting, Route Running, Blocking, Tackling, etc.)
- Intelligence (Wonderlic, Schematics, etc.)
- Character (Work ethic, etc.)
- Intangibles (Leadership, etc.)
These traits all relate to the Murray in his NFL evaluation. However, the trade-offs between one more year and jumping to the pros “early” (Murray has been in Athens for four years and is working on a Master’s degree, so it’s hard to call this early even though he’s only played three seasons) are actually much less vast than one might anticipate. Why? Because a number of these fields are already defined for Murray and a number of others seem to offer equal pros and cons.
As detailed here (and continually changing) Murray has been impressive as a collegiate quarterback. I don’t foresee the Capital One Bowl changing his Draft stock because I’m not sure that a huge game against Nebraska merits a rise or that a disaster discredits three years’ of work.
But, I would say this is one of the few areas with some long-term variability. Specifically, if Murray were to stay and perform at a high level next season against Clemson, LSU, South Carolina, Florida and possibly the champ of the SEC West in the Georgia Dome his stock would rise from “solid” to “must have” pretty decisively. After all, previous performance is the first step to gaining NFL consideration and big game performance is the one shortcoming on his college résumé.
A year of great performance could vault Murray into the first round (or at least higher than he currently is). And, on the downside, I’m not sure that Murray is capable of having a year (barring injury) that is bad enough to derail the last three years of growth.
I don’t think Murray stands to gain much ground in throwing Pro-Day and Combine routes against ghost defenders by staying another year. He is not a Matthew Stafford with a cannon for an arm and a need to improve accuracy (Stafford made the “leap” between sophomore and junior year – before he was Draft eligible, but he was raw at that point nonetheless – in accuracy, and I think Murray made the same jump in long-ball accuracy already). Murray will never have Stafford’s arm strength, but I don’t know that his “drill” passing will ever improve under college coaching.
This is a moot measurement point.
The story on Murray consistently reads, “His biggest flaw is his height, and he knows he’s not going to get any taller.” This is probably true. But height is not the only physical trait of importance. Murray won the Strength and Conditioning award for commitment to the training program last week at the team’s award banquet. There’s no reason to expect his intensity to subside should he decide to stay. And, there’s no reason to expect him not to gain strength, agility and quickness – as it relates to the QB position – with another year in the program.
So, I can’t say that his height gives a true reason for leaving early as he could improve himself physically by staying. Whether he stays a year or leaves he’ll be the same height, but he could get his body more NFL-ready with another year – and as an undersized pocket passer that holds a lot of value.
Murray’s greatest passing deficiency has been his decision-making. This could certainly improve with more experience at the collegiate level and would vest itself in better performance in big games. But, it would also improve (most likely more so) under NFL coaching. Again, this should be a moot point in evaluating Murray.
Every quarterback can always be smarter, and Aaron Murray is no exception. He could become sharper mentally at Georgia or in the NFL. And his commitment to film room and game study in general lends itself to continued mental growth. I’m not sure that he stands to gain much from his decision either way.
By all accounts Aaron Murray is a good citizen. He will remain one regardless of where he goes in life.
Murray has grown as a leader in each year at Georgia. I see no reason to expect anything else if he decides to stay. If he leaves, however, his leadership (as a rookie) may take a back seat in the locker-room. But, either way he will eventually go pro and be at the bottom of the huddle totem pole, so I’m not sure that this should be a factor.
There are very even pros and cons to staying – both from Murray’s perspective and from a talent evaluator’s perspective – in the categories of testing, skills, intelligence, character and intangibles. Which leaves only previous performance and physical traits as variables for Murray’s NFL future.
If Aaron Murray leaves now he leaves with a superior college resumee, but not necessarily an elite one. He leaves as an undersized athlete with in the best physical condition that a player of his size and ability can be in after four years in the Georgia strength and conditioning program. He does not risk injury.
If Aaron Murray stays he can improve on his already solid track record, set virtually (if not literally) every SEC career passing record there is, and become an “elite” college passer. If he stays he will still be undersized but will improve physically in a fifth year of strength and conditioning. But, he opens himself up to the risk of injury.
If Aaron Murray leaves it will be because he believes this Draft class to be weak in quarterbacks and because he is making the safe move for the guaranteed money. But since when does Aaron Murray do the “safe” thing? With all due respect (and I actually mean that), part of what I love about Murray (and what I hate about him) is his flair for the dramatic. Aaron Murray is not the player he is because he dumps off running back screen passes and does the “safe” thing. He’s the QB he is because he throws bombs, time and time again, and he throws them against anybody.
Don’t be stunned when Murray drops a bomb on the NFL and sticks around Athens for another year. Staying home is the bold move in this instance. And it could pay off for Aaron Murray.
That’s all I got/