An ACL tear ended Aaron Murray's career at Georgia and sent his draft stock into flux, but that apparently doesn't scare Andy Reid.
Kansas City selected the four-year Bulldogs starter in the fifth round of the 2014 NFL draft, ending the precipitous fall Murray's stock has taken since the season-ending knee injury. He was taken ahead of fellow SEC quarterbacks Zach Mettenberger and AJ McCarron.
The move in no way guarantees him a roster spot, as he'll probably be sitting third on the depth chart heading into training camp.
That will be a wildly different experience for Murray, who starred from his (redshirt) freshman season through his senior year in Athens. He is the SEC's all-time leading passer with 13,166 yards and holds the conference record for touchdown passes with 121—both numbers that comfortably eclipse previous totals. Twice, Murray was a Davey O'Brien and Maxwell Award semifinalist.
At Georgia, he was known best for his heady play and understanding of the complexities needed to fill the quarterback position. Georgia did not make a BCS bowl game during his tenure, but it finished fifth nationally in 2012—largely considered Murray's best all-around season.
Expected to compete for a Heisman in 2013, he instead suffered through an all-around disappointing senior year. His passing splits went down across the board despite having arguably the best offensive line of his career, and Murray's reign as a starter ended unceremoniously in November when he tore his ACL.
The injury sent him—already a mid-round NFL prospect—into a situation where it was possible he'd go undrafted. Injury red flags can fundamentally alter the trajectory for any prospect, let alone one who is 6'1" and 207 pounds with small hands and a build that doesn't lend itself to much additional weight.
Murray also has four years' worth of tape, which can be a great thing when someone is a can't-miss prospect. It can be the death knell for someone like Murray, though, who has below-average arm strength and lacks the pinpoint accuracy to atone for those deficiencies. In grading him, his arm strength would be a generous C-minus, while his accuracy would be somewhere in the lower reaches of the B range.
@nflosophy Also I like Aaron Murray a lot as college QB but best case scenario is he's a longtime backup; maybe Josh McCown later in career— Chris B. Brown (@smartfootball) April 19, 2014
However, Murray has the statistical production to convince teams he's worth the risk. It just took a far different path than the one he envisioned prior to deciding to return for his senior season.
Still unable to do athletic drills and wearing a bulky brace on his knee, Murray's only real chance to impress teams on a big stage was at Georgia's pro day. He threw 54 passes and performed well enough as scouts watched closely the zip he had on outside balls and throws on the run.
"We did a lot of throws on the run, left and right, to demonstrate my ability to cut off my leg and show everyone that I'm healthy," Murray told reporters, per The Associated Press (h/t ESPN.com). "That way these teams don't have to worry about if they draft me that I'm going to have to sit out or anything like that."
The Chiefs were obviously impressed enough to take a chance at this point in the draft. Murray isn't someone with a high long-term ceiling, but he could fit and be a steady backup throughout his career within the right system. His skill set lends itself to short-pass schemes in the middle of the field, though it should be noted he doesn't have a complete noodle arm.
His greatest skill is his mind and ability to understand coverages. As a backup, that could make him an interesting cog on a roster as he goes over play sheets with the starter on the sidelines.
At the very least, Murray proved he's healthy enough to get drafted. The rest is up to him.
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