After a redshirt year, Aaron Murray has been the quarterback at Georgia for the past three years and came back with hopes of having his best season as a senior. As long as he stays healthy, Murray will end up with 54 or 55 games as the starter of the Bulldogs offense, which is a remarkable accomplish on its own, but he will have the opportunity to break any number of school and SEC records this year as well. Murray is coming off of a season where he had 3,893 yards passing, 36 touchdowns with another 3 rushing touchdowns against 10 interceptions, while completing 64.5% of his passes with 10.1 yards per attempt. Murray was impressive and helped lead the Bulldogs to a 12-2 record and an appearance in the SEC Championship that came down to the wire against Alabama, which was infinitely more compelling than the National Championship game.
Murray has impressive arm talent both in his strength and accuracy, but has stretches of inconsistency. He is an extremely savvy quarterback whose experience often shows through, but he has got to find ways to overcome the issues that come with his height. Murray has a lot of passes deflected at the line of scrimmage and needs to do a better job of finding passing lines. The teams that were able to get pressure on him, especially up the middle had a huge impact on his effectiveness. Unless he can find a way to improve these issues, he appears destined to be a day three prospect that might sneak into day two as he should do well in meetings and his experience in a pro-style offense will help him in the draft process.
Vitals & Build
Murray is listed at 6’1” 210lbs and that listing appears generous. He is as tough a quarterback as there is in college football and it is remarkable with some of the hits he has taken and gotten up from, but is just not a huge guy. His height is going to be a problem as he seems to have some issues seeing over the offensive line at times, but he is a pretty good foot athlete with agility and speed to be mobile and get outside the pocket. Murray still appears to have some physical potential going forward, but there is only so far he is going to go after five years in Georgia’s strength program.
Murray has the strength the ball down the field with relative ease. He should not be limited schematically based on his ability to throw the ball deep.
His zip on the ball might be better than his arm strength as Murray seems to be able to throw a nice fastball consistently and put some velocity on his throws. What makes it stand out is that he can throw with velocity seemingly at every level of the field, so he can fit passes in tight windows and take advantage of openings down the field quickly before safeties can get over to make a play on the football.
Accuracy & Touch
For the most part, Murray can throw the ball accurately all over the field. Whether it is a quick slant or throwing a back shoulder pass near the sideline, Murray demonstrates to put the ball on his receiver in a way so they can catch the ball and keep running with it. However, there are times when Murray will appear to try to overthrow the ball or run into stretches when he will miss on his locations. He is able to make some terrific throws that would be great at any level, but will miss some throws that cause onlookers to scratch their head because of how well he normally throws. There are times when Murray will miss guys throwing down the middle of the field and the question that comes to mind is whether or not he could see what he was trying to throw the ball or if his vision was obstructed and he was throwing on repetition and chemistry with his receivers rather than a clear view of his receiver.
Murray can throw with touch but really prefers to get the ball there as quickly as he can. He throws a lot of bullets and frozen ropes, but can definitely adjust and make touch throws to give his receivers a chance to make plays down the field or when he is anticipating a particular move.
Mechanics & Footwork
Murray has good mechanics, holding the ball right around his neck and collar and going almost straight up to the ear and forward, so the ball gets out quickly and easily. He is able to throw on the run but it does require him to use more arm, so he really puts a lot of torque on his shoulder and upper body, so at times he will have a longer throwing motion there, but nothing problematic.
Between his experience under center and out of gun, Murray has developed good, quick footwork, so he is often throwing the ball on time and in rhythm. He is able to set up and throw the ball quickly in the pocket and requires little space to make throws.
Murray is comfortable in the pocket for the most part, but does not always have a great feel for it. He is extremely tough and takes a beating in part because he does not always feel the pressure coming or he will run himself into pressure. Murray is athletic enough to maneuver in the pocket effectively but needs to do a better job under fire.
The biggest problem Murray runs into in the pocket is with his height, which causes a couple of issues that are problematic both now and going forward. Murray can struggle with finding open throwing lanes and because of his height, it takes little effort from defensive linemen to get there arms up to deflect passes and has had a number of them either knocked down or batted up in the air, which can and has resulted in a turnover, one of which ultimately scored against Tennessee. Most college defensive linemen do not put in the effort that NFL defenders do when it comes to knocking down passes, so that is definitely a worry going into the NFL. And when Murray does face pressure up the middle, he has trouble seeing down the field and can make questionable decisions with the ball or becomes a sitting duck and can only rely on his ability to run with the ball.
Decision Making & Anticipation
Murray’s decision making seems to be all about the amount of pressure he is under; when he is operating in the pocket and under control, he can pick teams apart and makes good decisions with the football. When he is under pressure or the game is in trouble and he gets put in an awkward position, he can go full on Brett Favre both with his creativity and ability to make extremely questionable decisions with the football.
Murray is impressive when it comes to understanding where his receivers are going and when he needs to get rid of the football. This is especially apparent when he is throwing the ball to the outside and he makes back shoulder throws or passes on comebacks and curl routes. He has demonstrated he can anticipate when he needs to throw it so that his receiver has time to adjust to the ball, but avoids putting the ball in position to be intercepted.
Murray is quicker than fast and he can run a little bit, but he is not really a threat to pick up a ton of yardage as a scrambler. He can maneuver and rollout as Georgia loves to get him outside to help with his ability to see the field and give him natural passing lanes. He is maneuverable for a pocket passer, but he is a pocket passer. Murray can pick up a few yards here or there, but he is not a big threat with the ball in his hands.
Murray is scheme diverse and can play in any scheme the NFL has to offer, but the issues he has shown in college will be the same in the NFL, if not worse. He is best served to be a long term backup who might be able to provide the occasional spot start, but is unlikely to be a quarterback who can be a franchise guy unless he can overcome the issues he has connected to his height and ability to see the field.
In so many ways, Aaron Murray resembles Colt McCoy as a quarterback prospect. The key differences between the two are that Murray brings an NFL arm to the table and has played his college football in a pro-style offense. Other than that, their measurables are virtually identical as are the amount of experience coming into the NFL and their places in their respective schools’ histories. McCoy did have an opportunity to be a starter, so it would not be a huge surprise if Murray did as well if he lands in a similar situation, but they both seem like long term backups.
Genetics and lack of height really become a problem with Murray and while people can argue that he is the next Drew Brees and pointing at Russell Wilson, those two have been able to make adjustments to see the field better and avoid getting their passes batted down at the line. If Murray can figure out ways to do that and make it so his height is not an issue, his stock could go up dramatically and he enters the conversation as a potential starting quarterback, but as it is, he seems like a fourth or fifth round pick, but he will have an opportunity to change minds both this season and likely in the Senior Bowl.
Some of the film used in this scouting breakdown was provided by the good folks at draftbreakdown.com