Height/weight: 6’1”, 207 lbs.
Quarterbacks have been one of the hottest topics surrounding this year's NFL draft. Where each will get taken, how their skills translate to the next level, and which teams are in the best position to select one. Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray is a guy who, despite setting SEC records in most major passing categories, isn't viewed as a member of the elite group of quarterbacks. He stands only 6-foot-1 and is recovering from a knee injury, but he turned a lot of heads with an impressive Pro Day.
Murray was an All-America recruit coming out of high school and received All-SEC honors in each of his four seasons at Georgia. Murray’s 13,166 passing yards, 13,562 total yards, 921 completions and 121 touchdown passes over his four seasons with the Bulldogs are each SEC all-time records. No other quarterback in SEC history has thrown for 3,000 yards in four straight seasons in the conference. The talk about Murray since the conclusion of his college career has revolved around his knee -- as he has been recovering from a torn ACL suffered against Kentucky on Nov. 23 -- but also around his height. He, like several other undersized quarterbacks, has found immense success at the collegiate level, but questions about durability and effectiveness at the NFL level loom about small quarterbacks.
Why he’s a good fit for the Cowboys
Dallascowboys.com’s Ed Cahill projects the Cowboys to select Murray in the fourth round (119th overall) in his April 11 mock draft. Murray is an accurate passer who has some mobility and threw almost three times as many touchdowns as he did interceptions in college.
Murray would not be expected to come in and play in the current Dallas offense, as that job will remain Tony Romo’s barring another injury. But an interesting thing to look at with Aaron Murray’s game is the back shoulder fade. You can see him talk about that throw in John Gruden’s QB Camp on ESPN. Of Dez Bryant’s 13 touchdowns last season, nine came from within five yards of the endzone. Murray spent four years mastering the fade at Georgia, and if the scenario presents itself where Murray shoulders the quarterbacking duties for Dallas, he would have a consistent throw to lean on and fit into the Cowboys’ offensive scheme - at least in the red zone.
One example of the back shoulder throw in a goal line situation came in the Bulldogs’ victory over LSU:
Returning to full strength
The Georgia football program pushed back its Pro Day so that Aaron Murray would be able to work out. Murray made it his goal to be ready for Pro Day, and ready he was when the slightly delayed April 16 date arrived. Murray reportedly completed 48 of his 54 passes in front of 23 NFL scouts, showing no signs of being slowed by the knee injury. If his knee is healed, his ability to make throws on the run like this one will make him a valuable quarterback at the next level.
Murray said this about his rehab process in an ESPN Q&A back in March.
“You know me, I love to work, so every day I walk in there with a smile on my face and a lot of energy and ready to conquer the day. Really, you've just got to take no days off and really just get after it.”
He’s a hard worker who isn’t phased by adversity or top-level competition, and those are qualities that will do nothing but help a player whose size stacks up against him.
Murray’s Pro Day certainly put his draft stock back on the upswing. Twenty-three scouts saw him put on a show and take a big step toward putting his knee injury in the rear-view mirror.
At the end of the day, quarterback is not an immediate need for the Cowboys. But with Tony Romo turning 34 this month and with injury questions surrounding him, Dallas is in a good place to draft depth at the position. Aaron Murray could be an absolute steal in the middle rounds of the draft and would make a serviceable back-up if not one day a solid starter.
With other positions of definite need, I don’t see the Cowboys taking a quarterback before Ed Cahill’s fourth round prediction. Dallas needs to shore up the defense in the early rounds, and Murray may rise high enough to be taken in the third round. If, however, Murray is a guy Dallas wants, they are armed with several seventh round picks and could be in a position to move up later in the draft.