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2014 NFL Draft: Five Teams That Could Still Draft Aaron Murray

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2014 NFL Draft: 5 Teams That Should Consider Drafting Aaron Murray

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Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Quarterback Aaron Murray’s senior season at Georgia surely did not turn out the way he hoped when he decided to return to school and not enter the 2013 NFL Draft. After entering the season as a possible national title contender, the Bulldogs enter their regular season finale against Georgia Tech on Saturday with three losses in the SEC and a 7-4 record.

If that wasn’t enough, Murray suffered a torn ACL in his left knee during last week’s win over Kentucky, which now has his stock heading toward the 2014 NFL Draft in decline. He will surely not be able to participate in any pre-draft All-Star games and his work at the NFL Combine will be limited to interviews with teams.

Even if he was 100 percent healthy going through the pre-draft process, Murray may not have been a first-round pick with more notable quarterbacks in next year's draft class grabbing the attention of the league’s front offices. But now he can’t be counted on to contribute on the field at all as a rookie, which stands to limit the number of teams that have any interest in drafting him.

But in the right situation Murray could be a good fit, and any team that has a quarterback firmly in place for next season and can view Murray simply as a future asset could have more than a passing interest in him.

Murray is now all but certain to be a third-day pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, barring miraculous progress in his recovery from knee surgery. But here are five teams I think could give strong consideration to selecting him.

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5. Chicago Bears

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Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports

Jay Cutler is injured and in the final year of his contract, and despite playing well in Cutler’s place Josh McCown is not a long-term solution under center for the Bears. Cutler could be brought back with a franchise tag next season, which would allow Chicago to use a late draft pick on Murray next spring with an eye toward him possibly becoming their starting quarterback in 2015.

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4. St. Louis Rams

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Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Sam Bradford had his 2013 season end early due to a torn left ACL of his own, and his base salary of just over $14 million for next season is not guaranteed. Despite the team’s assertions they are committed to Bradford for at least 2014, the Rams may seek a backup plan and they could consider using a late-round pick on Murray.

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3. Tennessee Titans

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Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

Jake Locker has shown flashes of potential to be a franchise quarterback over the last couple seasons, but injuries have derailed him and 2014 is the final guaranteed year of his rookie contract with the Titans. Murray could become a backup option as Tennessee’s quarterback of the future fairly quickly, particularly if Locker is slow to recover from the foot issue that ended his 2013 season early.

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2. New York Giants

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Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The Giants do not have a sure-fire quarterback of the future right now, depending on their feelings regarding 2013 draft pick Ryan Nassib. Quarterback is not necessarily an urgent short-term need, with Eli Manning turning 33 in January and likely with at least a few peak years left as one of the most durable signal callers in the league, so New York could draft Murray with the idea of effectively giving him a redshirt year next season.

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1. Cleveland Browns

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Ron Schwane-USA TODAY Sports

Brandon Weeden was replaced by Jason Campbell this season and has gotten the starting job back with Campbell suffering a concussion in Week 12, so it’s clear the Browns don’t have a long-term solution at quarterback right now. It’s very likely they'll use their 2014 first-round pick on a signal caller, but it would not surprise me if the Browns draft two quarterbacks next spring to add more depth at the position. The Washington Redskins had a similarly dismal quarterback situation heading into the 2012 draft, and followed up their selection of Robert Griffin III early in the first round with Kirk Cousins later.