ATHENS - Aaron Murray's draft status is becoming one of the more interesting subjects around the Georgia football program, and the nation's most famous NFL draft analyst weighed in on Tuesday.
ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. said during a media teleconference that Murray should return for his senior year, but if the quarterback does return, he would be a second-day pick. And yes, Kiper did invoke Drew Brees, but not with much fervor.
Here's Kiper's answer in full, when asked by WSB's Zach Klein about Murray:
"I would go back for another year if I were Aaron Murray because I think unless you're a guaranteed first-round pick it's wise to go back. Especially when you play at Georgia with the talent around the quarterback there, even though (Tavarres) King will be moving on. But you've got (Malcolm) Mitchell coming back, the great young running backs around you, the line, you've got a lot of good components in terms of the situation there, in terms of the talent around the quarterback. So I would go back.
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"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 feeet, 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."
It's not a strong quarterback crop. Kiper said it was also wide open who the first quarterback would be. He guessed that right now it would be N.C. State's Mike Glennon, and even Glennon was only talked about by Kiper as a top 15 pick.
"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. ...
"I think he'd be in the second and third round discussion. If he wants to be a first-round pick, if he wants to improve your stock you go back. It really depends on where he is, in terms of his career, whether he just wants to move on and go to the NFL and take his chances."
Another interesting quarterback decision to watch: Kiper also said that Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd isn't a sure first-round pick and should return for his senior year. Clemson and Georgia play each other to open the 2013 season.
Kiper also weighed in on a few other Georgia underclassmen and seniors:
- Regarding All-American Jarvis Jones, who is No. 1 overall on Kiper's draft list, the issue will be durability, going back to the neck injury that led to him leaving Southern California.
"Obviously the medical part's gonna be important. How teams view that's gonna be important. Staying out there for that long 16-game NFL schedule is the issue. That's the issue. That's the concern," Kiper said. "But in terms of ability, his sack numbers, the way he gets after the quarterback, his motor, he's another guy I talked about who's very focused, good kid. People say they (Alabama) ran at him, well they run at all great outside linebackers, that's the history of that position, those guys get run at. ...
"He's No. 1 in a year where there's not a lot of elite guys. There's not the quarterback, the running back, the cornerback, the safety. There's a lot of position you don't have the guy at the top, that allows the Jarvis Jones and the Manti Te'o to move up to the top. So he's a top pass rusher. If the medical stuff checks out fine, he's a top-five pick, maybe the No. 1 pick overall. ... I have him No. 1, doesn't mean he'll go No. 1. But certainly in the top five."
- Junior nose tackle Kwame Geathers projects to the second or third round if he decides to leave, according to Kiper.
"Geathers is a junior who has a decision to make. He's huge, he's a space-eater. He frees up the linebacker, and that obviously helped out Ogletree at inside linebacker, having Jenkins, having Geathers," Kiper said. "You pop (Geathers) in the second round as a possibility."
- Junior linebacker Alec Ogletree is rated No. 9 overall by Kiper, and if Ogletree declares then Kiper has him "in the top 10 mix."
- Senior nose tackle John Jenkins is rated No. 19, and in the mix to be a top 20 pick.
- Quick hits on the other seniors:
- Senior receiver Tavarres King could be in the third or fourth round.
- Safeties Bacarri Rambo and Shawn Williams are in the mix to be third or fourth round picks.
- Sanders Commings, who can play cornerback and safety, could be in the third-to-fifth round discussion.
- Cornelius Washington, who can play defensive end or linebacker, could be in the third-to-fifth round range.
It's important to remember that the above are just estimates by Kiper, and there's a long way to the draft. But it's a good early gauge.