Aaron Murray: Quarterback Keeper

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For the second straight year, the Kansas City Chiefs have acquired a quarterback from the newest NFL draft class. Only this time, they actually drafted one. In the spring of 2013, John Dorsey brought Tyler Bray, an undrafted quarterback with exceptional arm talent, to town. The fifth-round of the 2014 NFL Draft yielded yet another SEC prospect. For the record, this administration appears to be fond of players from the Southeastern Conference. Murray’s the sixth of seven draftees taken from the conference. He’s arguably one of the best quarterbacks in the history of the SEC and I believe that Chiefs Kingdom has good reason to be excited about him.

Let’s start by taking a look at the pre-draft talk on Murray (from the experts):

Charles Davis, NFL Network

"Due to a late-season knee injury that kept him out of the postseason all-star games and the NFL Scouting Combine and has limited him in individual workouts, Murray has been below the radar. Some are leery of his height (below 6-foot-1). Others question his arm strength. I see a 52-game starter in the SEC who left as the all-time leader in passing yardage, with 121 touchdowns, and got better every year. On film, I see plenty of wide-field throws as well as numerous downfield shots taken (and completed). Tough, competitive, smart (two-time Academic All America). Let the word get out: Aaron Murray is a QB to be considered. Strongly."

Mike Mayock, NFL Network 

"This kid gets it. He’s as accurate as any quarterback in the draft is. I really like the kid. I’ve got to do some more homework on him, because he’s kind of changing my perception right now."

Kevin Weidl, ESPN

"Murray has strong field presence, a great understanding for situational football and has brass as a competitor. Very good facilitator. Murray will have limitations, will only fit in certain systems. To his credit though he maximizes everything he has in the tank physically."

Tony Dungy said he sees Russell Wilson in him. Bill Polian said he saw Drew Brees. Those are two ringing endorsements for an R5 pick. I’m sure you’re wondering, “How’d he fall all the way to Round 5?” There are a number of reasons why Murray was a Day 3 selection. He’s just a shade over 6-foot tall, he has small hands, has a perceived lack of arm strength and is coming off of a season-ending ACL injury.

Luckily for the four-year man out of Georgia, he’ll have adequate time to heal. Not much will be expected of him in year one, but he will be competing with Tyler Bray for the final quarterback spot. The Chiefs aren’t going to carry four quarterbacks so someone will obviously be the odd-man out. In my estimation, there are only about three ways this could play out.

1. Chase Daniel gets cut.

This is the choice I’m least comfortable with. It leaves you with two quarterbacks behind Alex Smith that have never taken a meaningful NFL snap. If Smith were to go down, we’d be entrusting this franchise to a tandem who have only a year of combined NFL experience. It also won’t offer much in the way of cap relief. Cutting Chase Daniel will only clear $1.4 million in cap space. Daniel has only made one NFL start, but he’s spent a total of five years in the league with two different franchises.

2. Tyler Bray gets cut.

I’m honestly not real fond of this option either. While Bray is reportedly having trouble assimilating Andy Reid’s system, he does have an elite arm. That was the biggest knock on Bray coming out of college — his inability to play the game above his shoulders. If he were ever able to grasp the finer points of the game, he could be a special player. As it stands, he’ll probably be in the fight of his young NFL life in Kansas City.

3. Aaron Murray is placed on IR.

This would allow the Chiefs to retain the rights to the three quarterbacks behind Smith on the depth chart, but it would also eliminate any development that Murray could make in 2014. Players put on a team’s injured/reserve list aren’t allowed to practice. A permanent designation would keep Murray off the practice field for the entire season. A short-term designation would allow him to re-join the team after 8 weeks, but it would only delay the inevitable decision about who to cut.

Were I John Dorsey, I think I’d probably hand Bray his walking papers. I’m convinced that Murray has more upside and could potentially be a starter in this league. Bray’s football IQ is lacking in such a way that backup may be his ceiling in the NFL. Murray had the better career in college and appears to have all of the intangibles. Time will ultimately tell if he’s the better option, but the next four months are going to be very, very interesting.