With the NFL combine taking place this past weekend, it must have been hard for Georgia Bulldogs quarterback Aaron Murray to not think about what could have been had he decided to forgo his final year of eligibility and enter the NFL draft. With this year’s class of quarterbacks gaining a lot of notoriety for its mediocrity, where would Murray have fit in and should he have decided to go pro are questions that have to be asked.
Murray doesn’t have all that much to gain in terms of his draft stock by coming back for one more year at Georgia. The biggest knock against him is his height and staying in college longer doesn’t tend to make people any taller. He already has three years of experience as a starter playing in the best conference in college football and may have been one rushed play and one tipped pass away from toppling the Alabama Crimson Tide and leading the Bulldogs to the national championship game, which they probably would have won.
Murray doesn’t have much to prove by coming back to Georgia for one final year. If he had left college following the 2012 season, he would have received a draft grade befitting a second- or third-round pick. He could have been picked sooner than he deserved based on the weak class of quarterbacks this year as a team with a need at quarterback may have gone after him with the hopes of finding the next Drew Brees.
Ironically, it may have been the close call against Alabama that convinced Murray to return to school for one more year. It was well published that Murray was haunted by what happened in the closing seconds of the SEC championship game, and coming that close only to fall short may have fueled his fire to return to Georgia for one last shot at winning an SEC championship and possibly a national championship.
If that’s the case, it shows the competitive fire that NFL teams love, especially out of a quarterback. But it also shows Murray allowing his emotions to get the best of him and make a bad decision as a result. He is putting himself at risk for injury or poor performance in 2013, which could significantly hurt his draft stock, especially considering he already has many who doubt he can be a viable NFL starter because of his height.
Of course, Murray coming back is great for Georgia, as he will be excited to lead the Bulldogs back to the SEC Championship game for the third straight year. But as far as his pro prospects are concerned, Murray is not doing himself any favors by waiting another year before heading to the NFL. He is risking a lot by chasing after an SEC championship one more time instead of going to the NFL. Whether that decision comes back to haunt him the same way that last play against Alabama haunts him remains to be seen.