After Georgia’s 45-31 Capital One Bowl victory over Nebraska, Georgia junior quarterback Aaron Murray was considered a safe bet as a top-10 pick in the upcoming NFL Draft, if he chose to declare. For some reason, Murray decided that returning to Georgia for his senior season was the better move. But he is incorrect for a number of reasons.
First, Murray’s draft stock was white-hot after his Capital One Bowl performance. Murray capped off his junior season by completing 18-33 passes for 427 yards and five touchdowns. Murray also compiled solid numbers on the season as a whole: 64.5 completion percentages, 3,893 passing yards, 36 touchdowns and only 10 picks while leading Georgia to a 12-2 record. That’s not bad at all for an SEC quarterback. While Murray will likely go into his senior season as a Heisman candidate, it’s going to be difficult for him to exceed or even duplicate the success he had this season.
Second, Murray was considered a top QB prospect in a weak draft class. His main competition for being the first quarterback selected would have been West Virgina’s Geno Smith, USC’s Matt Barkley and Arkansas’ Tyler Wilson, all players who have knocks on their draft stock. The top QB of the 2013 NFL Draft would have been Murray’s for the taking since there is no clear-cut number one prospect like in years past.
Finally, Murray risks a number of things happening that could drop his draft stock next season. I’m not saying that it will happen and I wouldn’t want to wish any ill-will on anyone, but the risk of a serious injury is always there for football players.
Murray could look at what happened with Barkley at USC as a reason to go pro when you’re stock is high. Barkley decided to return as a senior in hopes of winning a BCS Championship with the Trojans and possibly the Heisman, but a disastrous 7-6 season for USC and a high number of interceptions in big games has caused Barkley’s stock to plummet from widely-regarded number one overall pick to fringe first rounder. That’s a big shift in guaranteed money for a kid fresh out of college.
Some list Murray’s height as a detriment to his draft stock, and that’s fair. Murray is listed at 6’1”, and that may be pushing it. But as the NFL game continues to evolve into a passing league, quarterbacks that can throw the football are at a premium, especially in a year where the pro free agent quarterback market is mediocre at best. 2013 would have been the prime opportunity for Murray to capitalize on.
If Murray remains healthy and has a solid year for Georgia next season he will set a number of SEC passing records. Georgia may even be in the running for a BCS title. While Murray returning to school is commendable, he is risking a ton of NFL millions in the process. And that’s not a wise business decision when it comes to your future.