Leading up to the NFL draft on May 8-10, Shutdown Corner will examine some of the most interesting prospects in the class, breaking down their strengths and weaknesses.
6-foot-1, 207 pounds
2013 stats: 225-for-347, 3,075 yards, 26 touchdowns, 9 interceptions
40-yard dash: Didn't run at combine (injured)
The good: Murray presents an interesting debate of production vs. measurables. He's kind of the bizarro Logan Thomas, who gets constant praise for how he fills out his uniform but has not shown he can translate his skills to football. Murray's production is hard to argue with. Murray left Georgia with SEC career records for completions (921), passing yards (13,166), touchdown passes (121) and total offense (13,562). He's the only SEC quarterback to have four 3,000-yard passing seasons. The SEC was without question the best conference in college football during Murray's career, so those numbers are no joke. While Georgia never broke its national championship drought with Murray, it did have back-to-back double-digit win seasons when Murray was a sophomore and junior, and came a few yards from beating Alabama for the SEC championship in 2012 (one of the best college football games of this century, by the way). His experience as a four-year starter shows in some good decision making. He can move around in the pocket and throw on the run, and has good accuracy on short and medium throws. He didn't pile up all those numbers by being bad at football.
The bad: There are some questions about his NFL ability, however. Murray doesn't have the size that NFL teams prefer, and he doesn't have the top-flight arm strength or athletic ability to overcome that, like a Johnny Manziel or Russell Wilson. He isn't going to be the type of quarterback to drive the ball into a tight space, and his lack of elite arm strength might limit what he can be as a NFL quarterback. It doesn't mean he can't be a successful quarterback. Cincinnati's Andy Dalton had similar questions coming out of TCU and he has been a productive quarterback who has led the Bengals to the playoffs three straight seasons. But, we all know that Dalton still carries the criticisms that he will always be limited. And then add on a big question about Murray's knee. He blew out his ACL last November against Kentucky. He worked out for teams at Georgia's pro day in mid-April and by all accounts he looked good.
"I think today showed these teams they don't have to worry about my knee," Murray said after his pro day workout, via the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "They don't have to worry about drafting someone who is not going to participate in OTAs, preseason and the season. I'm ready to go."
Still, add on the injury concerns to the other questions and it makes for a tough evaluation.
The verdict: The ACL injury could cost Murray. He might still be a second-round pick, but that seems to be the best-case scenario. No team will draft Murray with the idea he could start in the NFL as a rookie less than a year removed from major knee surgery. He'll sit and learn for a year. Then what's his ceiling? There's a lot to like about Murray, but it's hard to see him overcoming some of the weaknesses to become an elite NFL quarterback. He could be a good quarterback in the right system, like Dalton, or a long-time reliable backup, but it's hard to see him developing into too much more.
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