NFC South: Kevin Norwood

Murray, McCarron admire Saints

April, 30, 2014
Apr 30
BRISTOL, Conn. -- The New Orleans Saints aren’t in the market for their next starting quarterback yet, with starter Drew Brees still thriving at age 35.

But Georgia draft prospect Aaron Murray said, "I’ll gladly back up Drew for a few years. That’s fine with me. He’s my favorite quarterback."

I chatted with both Murray and Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron this week while they were doing a series of media interviews at ESPN headquarters.

[+] EnlargeAJ McCarron
Kevin C. Cox/Getty ImagesAlabama's AJ McCarron says backing up the Saints' Drew Brees "would be a great situation, for sure."
Both former SEC stars are projected as mid-round draft prospects -- which probably makes both of them long shots for the Saints since they likely won’t invest a premium pick on the position.

But never say never. Saints coach Sean Payton loves working with quarterbacks, and he said recently that the scouting department always takes a close look at quarterbacks leading up to the draft because the position is so vital. Perhaps a prospect like Murray or McCarron or Virginia Tech’s Logan Thomas could be a tempting mid-round option.

Murray and McCarron both said they didn’t visit New Orleans during the pre-draft process. But they both said they had very positive experiences while spending time with coaches at various offseason events like the scouting combine, Senior Bowl or pro days.

"I know Coach Payton really well," said McCarron, who was promoting AXE Hair Gels during his ESPN rounds. "He came over and talked to me several times, came over and talked to me some at my pro day. He’s a great man. ...

"And then I got to know Drew, I met him up at the Super Bowl, and he’s a great dude. Unbelievable. One of the best probably ever to play the game at that position. So, yeah, that would be a great situation, for sure."

Murray, who at 6-foot-1, 207 pounds, is a smaller quarterback like Brees, said Brees has long been his favorite quarterback to watch. He said former Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham used to provide players with NFL tapes, and he watched more of Brees than anyone else.

"We have very similar styles. Not only just on the field just playing ball, but leadership as well," Murray said. "That’s something I work extremely hard to do, to take control of the team and represent the University of Georgia both on and off the field. And that’s something he does well ...

"And then you just go to ball, and he’s a lot of fun to watch. ... All summer long I’d be watching some of his games, what he does maneuvering out of the pocket, watching him get through reads."

A mid-round prospect that might make even more sense for New Orleans is Alabama receiver Kevin Norwood, whose stock has seemed to be on the rise based on recent talk from draft analysts.

"Supposedly now they’re talking about he’s a third round (pick)," McCarron said of the 6-2, 198-pounder, raving about what a clutch receiver and a "genuine dude" he is. "I think just a lot of offensive players at Alabama are underrated coming out, just because our defense is always the main focus, playing for a defensive coach like Coach (Nick) Saban. So I think it’s just an offensive burden in a way, that we have in a way, coming out. Just kind of pushed to the side almost.

"But Kevin’s gonna be a hell of a receiver."
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The signing of free agent Tandon Doss gives the Jacksonville Jaguars one thing they’ve been missing for several years: A big, physical receiver that has actually been productive on the field.

The 6-foot-2, 205-pound Doss caught 26 passes the past two seasons in Baltimore. The Ravens took him in the fourth round in 2011 after he had a standout career at Indiana. He caught 154 passes for 1,854 yards and 13 touchdowns in his career and set a single-season school record for kickoff return yardage as a senior in 2010. He led the Big Ten and was fourth nationally with 175.8 all-purpose yards that season.

Doss had 19 catches for 305 yards for the Ravens last season, and averaged 16.5 yards per catch in his two seasons in Baltimore.

The Jaguars do have two big receivers on the roster, but neither has done much on the field. Stephen Burton (6-1, 224) played in four games for the Jaguars in 2013 and has 15 catches in three seasons with the Jaguars and Minnesota. Stephen Williams (6-5, 207) appeared in just two games for the Jaguars last season and has just nine catches in four seasons with Arizona, Seattle and Jacksonville.

The NFL trending toward bigger cornerbacks makes finding bigger receivers a priority. Jaguars coach Gus Bradley said last week that the team would try to add one in free agency and also might draft one.

This is a deep draft for receivers, and the Jaguars did work with Alabama’s Kevin Norwood (6-2, 208) at the Senior Bowl.