For a number of reasons, I have zero use for Mel Kiper. Listen to him turn his keen insight towards Aaron Murray’s potential draft status:
“The thing working against Murray is in some of the big games he had some struggles. Obviously against Alabama he didn’t get the win, but he was right there with them the whole way. And of course you think about the height, what’s he gonna measure out at: Is he gonna be six feet, a little over it, what exactly is he gonna be? He’s not gonna be 6-2, 6-3. And of course this quarterback year is pretty wide open.”
“I’d say if you’re Aaron Murray and you come out, then there’s gonna be those potential Drew Brees comparisons,” Kiper said. “Brees was the first pick in the second round. So I’d say potential second, third-round area right now. But the height thing is gonna be the big factor in evaluating how he’s viewed by the NFL.”
Kiper then returned to Murray later in the teleconference.
“It’s a tough call. For him it really boils down to where is he?” Kiper said. “He’s played a lot of football at Georgia, it seems like he’s been there forever. He’s an accurate passer. He’s won a lot of games. He didn’t win the big one. Obviously he had a chance against Alabama, but it got away from him late – you’ve gotta spike the ball in that situation. He didn’t, and they ran out of time. He’s thrown a lot of touchdown passes, made a lot of plays. He’s obviously had some good receivers to throw to in his career. … The size issue, I mean how tall is he gonna be? He’s a fourth-year junior, he’s got a decision to make. …”
That’s three references to Murray’s height in a short interview – four if you count the Drew Brees reference. The man’s a little obsessed with that. And yet he advises Murray to stay in college another year! Mel, it’s not like he’s in the ninth grade and will grow another four inches over the summer.
And I love the casual “He’s thrown a lot of touchdown passes, made a lot of plays” toss in there. I’m not telling you Murray’s the greatest to ever play the position, but there’s more to that than Kiper’s letting on. I’ve got no idea whether Murray is turning pro after this season, but selfishly speaking, I hope he comes back for more. With one game left in his third year, he’s already become the first quarterback in SEC history to pass for more than 3,000 yards in each of three seasons. He’s on pace to throw for close to 13,000 career yards and 120 career touchdown passes, both of which would obliterate the current conference records. That’s not exactly chopped liver.
Yes, I get the big game critique. But it takes a village to win a big game. This season, Murray is the nation’s second-rated passer, despite playing behind a green offensive line (you think McCarron’s numbers would be as pretty if he and Murray swapped blockers?), playing without his best receiver early due to suspensions that forced the coaches to juggle personnel and then losing two starters during the year to season ending injuries, playing with a defense that’s had its share of ups and downs and special teams play that hasn’t always been consistent. Besides that, there’s this:
I’d say moving the ball 75 yards for the clinching score in a game that put his team in the SECCG and knocked Florida out of national title consideration – finally, some revenge for 2002 – qualifies as coming through in a big game.
He continues to improve and with what’s coming back on offense next year could really have a season for the ages. If he wasn’t so short, that is.