Monday, January 6, 2014

Scouting the 2014 NFL Draft: Aaron Murray

Since I wanted to take a look at more prospects than in the past this year, I am starting earlier. I have already looked at Zach Mettenberger, so it makes sense to take a look at the guy that beat him out for the quarterback position at the University of Gerogia, Aaron Murray. Murray suffered the same sad fate as Mettenberger as his year prematurely ended due to a torn ACL. Murray had a much more prolific college career, but will that success transfer to the next level? I took a look at his game against Clemson this year and his game against Alabama in 2012 to find out.

I like his eye discipline. He makes subtle movements to keep safeties from jumping his intended route. Too often, quarterbacks stare down receivers, but he shows the ability to scan a field. He also does a nice job of not giving up on the pass once he feels pressure. On this play, he is able to avoid the rush, find an open receiver and complete the pass.

Admittedly, the accuracy was not there on this pass, but this was actually an area where he looked good. He had nice accuracy on short-to-intermediate routes, especially in last year's Alabama game. He's not what you would consider a mobile QB, but throwing on the run was very solid.

Although it is usually not a good idea to throw across your body, Murray fires a strike that hits his receiver in stride and leads to a big gain (the touchdown was overturned).

Unfortunately, for Murray, he is not the sort of athlete that can consistently get out of the pocket, and when he is kept in the pocket, his struggles are highlighted. He just doesn't seem to have the skills necessary to be successful in the pocket. One huge issue is that his arm just does not stack up. Here is an pass where he badly misses behind his intended receiver.

I'm not even sure what that route was supposed to be. It was either an out or a fade, but either way, that was a very bad ball that not only could have been picked off but could have been returned all the way. As an Iowa fan, I saw many of those passes during the Stanzi days.

With where he is physically, he needs to be practically perfect in the intangibles. Unfortunately, that is not the case. He struggles to do a good job of anticipating pressure and avoiding the rush.

He has his running back as an outlet but never looks away from his downfield options until two guys are already on top of him.

Even his highlights have a lot of issues as a lot of the balls are underthrown and the throws that he does put on the mark down the field noticeably lack the zip to make him dangerous at the pro level.

I do think arm strength is overrated, but the less arm strength a quarterback has, the less room for error he has. A quarterback with Murray's arm strength needs to be deadly accurate, and I have not seen that from his tape.

Something that bothers me is that Clemson consistently put eight guys in the box, and there were very few chances taken down the field. Now, that could mean that his coach did not call plays for that to happen, or it means that Murray just didn't throw those balls. Either way, it's a pretty damning statement about his arm strength that one of those two did not feel enough confidence in Murray's arm to make that happen. Remember, this was the first game of the season when everyone around him was still healthy. He's a fine college quarterback, but I think that drafting him with any intentions outside of him being a solid backup is way too lofty for what he brings to the table. 

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