The Kansas City Chiefs didn't select quarterback Aaron Murray of Georgia in the fifth round of the NFL draft because they fear losing starter Alex Smith to free agency next year. The sides still have 10 months left to reach a deal and if Smith winds up hitting the free-agent market his successor is probably going to be someone else and not Murray.
That doesn't make the drafting of Murray, the first of a quarterback by the Chiefs with John Dorsey as their general manager and Andy Reid as their coach, any less intriguing. That Murray doesn't have classic size (the Chiefs list him at 6-foot-1 and 210 pounds) and a huge arm suggests Dorsey and Reid believe Murray can succeed in the NFL without those qualities.
Dorsey and Reid have a history of drafting and developing quarterbacks in previous jobs, Dorsey with the Green Bay Packers and Reid with the Philadelphia Eagles. When they like a quarterback, it's probably wise to listen. That alone makes Murray worth a fifth-round draft pick.
“He’s a winner," Dorsey said. "He’s been a winner at every stage that he’s played between high school and college. [He’s] ultra‐competitive and smart. What I like about him is when there are big drives to be made late in the game, this guy made those drives. He didn’t always win them, but he made those big drives at the end when it really counted. If you want to put some statistics in there, he’s got multiple records in the SEC, which is as good a conference as there is in today’s football. He performed at a very high level.”
Murray has a little more to him.
“His accuracy is the No. 1 thing,'' Chiefs assistant scouting director Dom Green said. "I want to say he’s [completed] 67 percent on all of his throws throughout his whole career.’’
Murray actually completed slightly better than 62 percent of his passes at Georgia. But Murray's ball finds its target far more frequently than it does for a lot of quarterbacks of his size.
“Most of the shorter quarterbacks have a lot of batted balls and that type of thing but I didn’t see that with Aaron," Green said. "He did a nice job hitting the lanes and getting the ball to receivers."
In explaining the reasons for that, Murray already sounded like an NFL veteran.
“All quarterbacks, you have to be able to move around the pocket, you have to be able to find those throwing lanes," Murray said. "It’s just working drills, working footwork, being able to stay active in the pocket. It’s also knowing where you need to go [with the ball]. When you know where you need to go as a quarterback based on the coverage and what the defense is giving you, you will put your body in position to make an accurate throw and find those open receivers."
Murray tore his ACL late last season and is still in the rehab stage of his recovery. He said he's been cleared for full participation in two weeks when the Chiefs start offseason practice with a three-day rookie camp. Dorsey is more cautious and said it may not be until training camp until Murray is fully unleashed.
Either way, this is a player worth watching. The Chiefs and Murray could be the right mix, something even the rookie quarterback already understands.
“It’s a great fit," Murray said. "I’m not complaining one bit. It’s an incredible fit. They do a heck of a job preparing quarterbacks."