With the 2014 NFL draft inching closer and closer by the day, the Saints' scouts, along with every other team, are finishing up their Pro Day rounds. The most recent stop for the team's staff came at the University of Georgia.
Leading up to the workouts I wasn't quite sure whether or not the Saints would be in attendance for UGA's Pro Day due to the lack of highly-touted prospects from the university this year. In 2013 the University of Georgia sent a school record eight players in to the draft, two of which went in the first round. In contrast, Aaron Murray is the highest graded draft-elligible Bulldog and he isn't expected to go any higher than the third round.
Thankfully I was able to sneak out of class and catch a little bit of the Pro Day action myself. A total of 23 teams sent representatives to the workouts, with the Jacksonville Jaguars sending the most personnel and being the only team with its head coach making an appearance. After a few minutes of searching, I was able to locate the lone scout for the Saints that was in attendance.
Shortly thereafter, Aaron Murray, UGA's star quarterback, began to warm up with his receivers. After he was done and was preparing to start the official drills, I noticed that the scout for the Saints (I didn't catch his name) had pulled Murray over to the side and was conversing with him one-on-one. They talked for a few minutes and then Aaron began throwing his routes, with the Saints' representative standing front and center, paying close attention to Murray's mechanics and technique. To me this was a dead give away that the Saints do in fact have a "real" interest in grabbing Aaron Murray in the middle rounds if he is available. A lot of experts proclaim that it is still a couple of years too early for the Saints to be looking for Brees' replacement, but who's to say Murray will be the highest graded player left on the Saints' board come time for their third or fourth round pick?
I wasn't able to talk to the scout that was there for the Saints, but I was able to make a few determinations myself. A lot of speculation coming in to the Pro Day for Murray was his surgically-repaired knee. It was very interesting to see him participate in different drills that required optimal foot work and to see him make some throws on the run just five months out of surgery. From watching his entire workout first-hand, his knee looked great. His foot work and mobility both stood out to me in a positive fashion. Murray is very confident about the progress of his knee himself, saying that doctors have given him the "full go" and that he "doesn't have any further limitations."
Murray has also made a name for himself through his accuracy and on-time delivery in short to intermediate passing routes, which he showed once again in his first public workout since his surgery. However, it looked to me as if Aaron struggled a bit throwing the deep ball, which has been evident during games before. To give him a little credit though, there was a little bit of wind in effect.
I also had the privilege to hear Terry Shea, a world renowned quarterback guru who has worked with former first round quarterbacks such as Matthew Stafford, Robert Griffin III, and Sam Bradford, speak about Aaron. In Shea's words, "Murray is right for the NFL and he is going to make a team very, very satisfied."
Personally, I'm not quite sure how Murray is going to pan out in the NFL. He has shown a great amount of success at the collegiate level and has the right amount of determination to succeed at the next level, but I'm not sold that he can make all of the necessary throws to be an elite NFL quarterback. His height, which is routinely brought up as a negative of his, is not an issue with me, as we have seen shorter quarterbacks like Russell Wilson and our very own Drew Brees find great amounts of success.
If I were to make a prediction for his career, I could very well see him being a guy that is consistently average to above average but never breaks through to be a top five quarterback, such as a Tony Romo or Phillip Rivers. However, I could also see him becoming a Matt Flynn-esque quarterback that is extremely successful in the right system.
No matter the scenario, though, I do see Murray as a legit option for the Saints come draft day. Quarterback needy teams will undoubtedly be more desperate for him of course.
What say you, Who Dat Nation?