Prospect Profile Video: Georgia QB Aaron Murray

In the first video installment of 2014′s Prospect Profile videos, TDR’s Erick Ward takes a look at the strengths and weaknesses of Georgia QB Aaron Murray.

Stay tuned to TDR for more great video capsules, and make sure to subscribe to Erick’s YouTube channel and follow him on Twitter @ward_erick!

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FIVE THINGS THAT SCARE ME ABOUT THE 2014 QB CLASS

Fresno State QB Derek Carr still has one glaring mechanical flaw that needs fixing.

Fresno State QB Derek Carr still has one glaring mechanical flaw that needs fixing.

BY LUKE EASTERLING
Senior Writer
@NFLDraftReport

Derek Carr’s feet

Nobody in this year’s QB class made a bigger overall improvement between 2012 and 2013 than Carr, who clearly spent much of the off-season correcting multiple mechanical issues.  The result was a senior season in which he steamrolled the Mountain West Conference to the tune of 5,082 yards, 50 touchdowns and just eight interceptions.  And though there’s still the trusty “inferior competition” argument against his production, it’s not what concerns me most about his ability to translate to the next level.

For all of the mechanical fixes that Carr managed to make heading into his senior campaign, one area that still needs major attention is his footwork.  Carr routinely pulls the trigger without fully setting his base, causing his ball placement to be effected negatively on a consistent basis.  Especially on catch-and-shoot-type throws (screens, quick hitches, etc.), Carr doesn’t even look like he’s trying to set his feet before letting the ball go.  Getting the ball out quick is important, sure, but not at the expense of accuracy.  He may have been able to get away with it in the MWC, but the NFL won’t be nearly as forgiving.

A.J. McCarron’s ability to handle pressure

One of the biggest concerns about a quarterback in McCarron’s situation is, “Would he be as successful if he wasn’t surrounded by such superior talent?”.  Any NFL team looking at McCarron has to be afraid that he’s nothing more than the next Ken Dorsey, a mere shadow of his collegiate self without the best players in the country surrounding him at nearly every position.  Turns out we might have gotten an early peek at what that will look like in Alabama’s disappointing Sugar Bowl loss to Oklahoma, during which McCarron was pressured early and often, to a degree that he hadn’t seen in maybe his entire collegiate career.

Eastern Illinois QB Jimmy Garoppolo was impressive at the Shrine Game last week, but his small hands might be a concern.

Eastern Illinois QB Jimmy Garoppolo was impressive at the Shrine Game last week, but his small hands might be a concern.

McCarron looked incredibly uncomfortable any time the pocket began to break down, and he lacks the athleticism to make plays outside the pocket.  Even when the pressure came from the edges and the tackles did a decent job of carrying the rusher up the field, McCarron chose to leave the pocket anyway instead of stepping up.  This led to multiple passes being thrown away needlessly, including a costly intentional grounding penalty.  If McCarron is to succeed at the next level, he’ll either have to improve greatly in this area, or hope he gets drafted by a team with a superior offensive line.

Jimmy Garoppolo’s small hands

I love everything else about this guy.  I loved him on tape, loved what I heard coming out of the Shrine Game practices, and I was thrilled to see him earn a late invite to the Senior Bowl.  However, once in Mobile, Garoppolo’s hands measured in at just nine inches, and he reportedly had multiple issues handling the ball during the first day of practices.

His week of work at the Shrine Game had put him in the 2nd-round conversation, but he’ll have to finish out the Senior Bowl week strong, particularly when it comes to ball security, to convince scouts that his hands won’t be an issue.

The ACLs of Zach Mettenberger & Aaron Murray

Is Johnny Football worth the risk?

Is Johnny Football worth the risk?

Two of the most successful passers in the nation’s best conference suffered devastating blows late in the season, as both Mettenberger and Murray each tore an ACL.  They’ll be spending a good portion of the off-season rehabbing, and while players like Adrian Peterson have proved that returning to a high level of play is still possible after such an injury, for every one of him there is an RG3.  Teams will be paying close attention to the medical reports on these two, and depending on the outcome, both could end up being serious steals if a team can grab them late enough without risking too much.  But if a team gambles on Day 2 and gets damaged goods, it’ll be a tough pill to swallow.

The risk of missing – or missing out – on Johnny Manziel

He’s the ultimate risk/reward pick in this entire draft.  We’ve all marveled at his play-making ability over the past two seasons, both as a runner and a passer.  There are a million different reasons why every GM in the NFL should snatch him up as soon as possible, and a million more why doing so could put their head on a platter by season’s end.  Will his passing ability be enough to succeed at the next level?  Will his athleticism not be superior enough to allow him to make the splash plays that were a dime a dozen every Saturday in College Station?  Will any success at the highest level, combined with a huge payday, make him into an even worse off-field monster than we’ve seen so far?  Let’s just say I’m glad my job isn’t on the line when it comes to this decision, one way or the other.

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NEW 2-ROUND MOCK NOW UP!

Is Teddy Bridgewater still a lock to be the top overall pick?

Is Teddy Bridgewater still a lock to be the top overall pick?  Or will another QB unseat him?

 

Luke Easterling’s latest 2-round mock draft is NOW UP!  Take a look at his current projections for your team, and don’t forget to follow us on Twitter @NFLDraftReport and give us YOUR take!

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UPDATED RANKINGS NOW UP!

Auburn OT Greg Robinson is the high-riser in our latest rankings.

Auburn OT Greg Robinson is the high-riser in our latest rankings.

Now that the declaration deadline for underclassmen has passed, it’s time to unveil our updated rankings!

Go check out the latest TDR Top 50 and Top 5 By Position and give us your take!

Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter @NFLDraftReport for all the latest news, analysis and analysis!

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Updated 2014 NFL Draft Order

Will Houston pull the trigger on Louisville QB Teddy Bridgewater?

Will Houston pull the trigger on Louisville QB Teddy Bridgewater?

The first 15 picks of the 2014 NFL Draft order are set!

1. Houston Texans – 2-14 (.559)
2. St. Louis Rams (from WAS) – 3-13 (.516)
3. Jacksonville Jaguars – 4-12 (.504)
4. Cleveland Browns – 4-12 (.516)
5. Oakland Raiders – 4-12 (.524)
6. Atlanta Falcons – 4-12 (.553)
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – 4-12 (.573)
8. Minnesota Vikings – 5-10-1 (.512)
9. Buffalo Bills – 6-10 (.520)
10. Detroit Lions – 7-9 (.457)
11. Tennessee Titans – 7-9 (.504)
12. New York Giants – 7-9 (.520)
13. St. Louis Rams – 7-9 (.553)
14. Chicago Bears – 8-8 (.465)
15. Pittsburgh Steelers – 8-8 (.469)

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CURRENT DRAFT NEEDS: DOLPHINS

Ryan Tannehill might be Miami's franchise QB, but he'll need better protection to reach his full potential.

Ryan Tannehill might be Miami’s franchise QB, but he’ll need better protection and more consistent play from his weapons to reach his full potential.

BY LIAM QUIBELL
@LiamQuibell19

To the surprise of some, The Dolphins are playing fairly decent this year. A significant part of that decent play is due in part to the weakness of the AFC East this season, but quarterback Ryan Tannehill and the offense have been performing at a fairly high level.  Defensively, The Dolphins rank 25th in run defense and need to address this issue if they want to take that next step and catch the Patriots in their division.

DEFENSIVE LINE
If the Dolphins went D-Line in the first round Arizona State’s Will Sutton would be a good option to beef up the front line and clog the holes that the opposing RB’s are constantly finding. The Dolphins also have free agents like Paul Soliai and Randy Starks, meaning the Dolphins need immediate help on the line. If the Dolphins were to wait for the second or third round to get a DT, guys like DaQuan Jones of Penn State, Timmy Jernigan of Florida State and Danny Shelton of Washington are all guys I really like.

TIGHT END
Tannehill and the offense have pretty good depth at WR and a couple good young RB’s but the Dolphins might think about grabbing a play-maker at tight end fairly early in the draft.  Charles Clay has shown flashes of great play but with the talent at TE in this draft, I would not be surprised if the Dolphins hopped on one early.  Eric Ebron of UNC looks really good but he might not make it to the Dolphins’ pick.  My best fit for the Dolphins is Washington’s Austin Seferian-Jenkins, a big TE who would be great to add to the lineup and help pass and run protect.

If the Dolphins' don't address the need at tackle in the first round, solid options like Ohio State's Jack Mewhort should still be available on Day 2.

If the Dolphins’ don’t address the need at tackle in the first round, solid options like Ohio State’s Jack Mewhort should still be available on Day 2.

OFFENSIVE LINE
Tannehill needs time in the pocket and his O-line is not giving it to him.  He doesn’t have that quick release or the elite skills that allow him to get the ball out instantly and effectively.  In my opinion, Miami needs to spend three picks on offensive linemen in May. Specific positions on the line the ‘Phins need to address are both left and right tackles as well as left guard.

With the talent available at tackle in this draft, I’m confident that the Dolphins will go there in the first round despite their need for a DT. I like Tennessee’s Antonio Richardson to help the left side in the first round because there are good RT’s in the next couple rounds including Jack Mewhort of Ohio State, who will be around in the 3 or 4th round, or hometown guy Seantrel Henderson of Miami.

Assuming that Miami picks a LT in the first round, and a DT or TE in the second, I feel like the third or fourth round might be reserved for a guard.  Solid options that should be available in that range include Alabama’s Anthony Steen, Chris Burnette of Georgia and Notre Dame’s Chris Watt.

MID-SEASON LOOK: FALCONS DRAFT NEEDS

Losing key play-makers like WR Julio Jones has left the Falcons' offense sputtering in 2013.

Losing key play-makers like WR Julio Jones has left the Falcons’ offense sputtering in 2013.

BY LANCE N. POIRRIER
@IBleedBluNOrang

The 2013 Falcons have been one of the NFL’s biggest surprises this season, and not in a good way. Atlanta’s defense has been dismal with no pass rush amongst other glaring needs on the defense. Matt Ryan has lost nearly his entire supporting cast through the season and he unfortunately doesn’t have the same effect on “no names” that Tom Brady or Peyton Manning does, Ryan needs his play makers available every game for the team to be successful.

DEFENSIVE END
Since letting the aging John Abraham go this offseason the Falcons’ pass rush has gone nearly extinct. The Falcons are on track to have the third overall pick in 2014, with which they would love to add South Carolina DE Jadeveon Clowney who is one of the most exciting and dominating DE prospects since Julius Peppers. Other names to look at past the first round are Missouri’s Kony Ealy, Stanford’s Trent Murphy, or North Carolina’s Kareem Martin. Don’t be shocked if the Falcons double dip on defensive ends in the top four rounds of the draft, they need tons of help.

DEFENSIVE TACKLE
Tackle is less of an issue for the Falcons, but any pass rush assistance would be an immediate help to their sad defense. Pass rushers who might interest the Falcons early in the draft could be Minnesota’s Ra’Shede Hageman or Florida State’s Timmy Jernigan, but if the Falcons wanted to wait until a bit later they may consider Florida’s Dominique Easley or Purdue’s Bruce Gaston.

TIGHT END
NFL legend Tony Gonzalez is calling it quits after the 2014 season and it’s a shame his great career is ending on such a sour note. TE is going to become a major need for the Falcons once Gonzalez departs. The Falcons will have a higher pick to start each round, and they may consider Washington’s Austin Seferian-Jenkins or Iowa’s C.J. Fiedorowicz.  An intriguing prospect who could help the Falcons is Oregon’s Colt Lyerla, who cut the bottom out of his draft stock by unexpectedly leaving the program midseason. There are also some later round picks that could bring potential and depth to Atlanta in Colorado State’s Crockett Gilmore or Indiana’s Ted Bolser.

The Falcons could be in the market for another power back in the 2014 Draft, such as Ohio State's Carlos Hyde.

The Falcons could be in the market for another power back in the 2014 Draft, such as Ohio State’s Carlos Hyde.

RUNNING BACK
The Falcons released Michael Turner early this off-season to make cap room and make a run at veteran Steven Jackson, but he’s been sadly disappointing and too often injured.  Should Mike Smith retain his head coaching job into 2014, the Falcons will be looking for a powerful back to plug into their offense and regain their rushing attack. Some players who might interest the Dirty Birds are Florida State’s James Wilder, Jr., Ohio State’s Carlos Hyde, or Alabama State’s Isaiah Crowell.

OFFENSIVE LINE
The Falcons have had to strip away their once-dominant offensive line over the past few seasons due to cap issues, and their current lack of depth has shown that they were ill-prepared for the scenario.  The Falcons desperately need a powerful right tackle to help sustain their run game, and Miami’s Seantrel Henderson who’s a monster of a man with great potential to become a road-grading RT in the NFL. They may also consider North Carolina’s James Hurst, who would be an instant upgrade at RT with potential to move to LT when the time comes for Sam Baker to exit Atlanta. The Falcons also need help along the interior of the offensive line, where they could consider the versatile guard/tackle from Stanford, David Yankey.  Baylor OG Cyril Richardson, who entered the season as the top-rated interior offensive linemen in this class, carries great potential and would be a solid second round pick should he last that far.

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MID-SEASON LOOK: JETS DRAFT NEEDS

The jury is still out on Jets' rookie QB Geno Smith, but he'll definitely need some new weapons in the passing game.

The jury is still out on Jets’ rookie QB Geno Smith, but he’ll definitely need some new weapons in the passing game.

BY TYLER GROSS
@TJGross13

At 5-5, The New York Jets have become one of the most inconsistent teams in recent memory, winning one week and losing the next. After being beaten soundly by the Buffalo Bills this past week, the Jets draft needs are crystal clear.

WIDE RECEIVER
It is way too early to pull the plug on Geno Smith, especially with the receiving corps that he’s had to work with this season. Jeremy Kerley, Stephen Hill, and the declining Santonio Holmes are not a recipe for success when your starting QB is a rookie. The Jets will have plenty of wide receivers to choose from in the 2014 draft. Jordan Matthews (Vanderbilt) would come in and immediately help Smith and the Jets’ sputtering offense, but there is no guarantee that he will fall to the Jets draft position in the first round. Other receivers to keep your eye on are Brandon Coleman (Rutgers) and Cody Hoffman (BYU).

TIGHT END
This 2014 draft class could produce three very special NFL tight ends.  Jace Amaro (Texas Tech), Eric Ebron (North Carolina), and Austin Seferian-Jenkins (Washington) could all become top tier pass-catching tight ends in the NFL, and the Jets would be mistaken to go into the 2014 season with Jeff Cumberland as their starting tight end. Kellen Winslow is only in New York on a one-year deal, and his average performance thus far, combined with his age, would suggest he will not be back with the Jets next season.

The Jets' d-line is playing at a high level, but adding some help on the egde, such as FSU's Christian Jones, wouldn't hurt.

The Jets’ d-line is playing at a high level, but adding some help on the egde, such as FSU’s Christian Jones, wouldn’t hurt.

OUTSIDE LINEBACKER
The Jets defensive line has been stellar and Sheldon Richardson has proven to be one of the best players taken in 2013 NFL draft, but the Jets need to keep building up the defense. Antwan Barnes and Calvin Pace have been solid but they’re not getting any younger. Quinton Coples has incredible potential, but the Jets should look to the draft for another OLB. A couple players I think the Jets should really take a look at are Jackson Jeffcoat (Texas) and Christian Jones (Florida State).

SAFETY
Antonio Allen in the seventh round of the 2012 draft was a steal for the Jets; but he is a better fit to be a strong safety rather than free safety. The Jets current starting strong safety, Dawan Landry, is on the wrong side of 30 and his age is showing more every week. The Jets need to move Allen to the starting strong safety position and draft their next free safety in May. The Jets should take a look at another Seminole defender, Lamarcus Joyner (Florida State).

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MID-SEASON LOOK: CHIEFS DRAFT NEEDS

QB Alex Smith is in a contract year.  Will the Chiefs look to add a young gun for the future?

QB Alex Smith is in a contract year. Will the Chiefs look to add a young gun for the future?

BY LIAM QUIBELL
@LiamQuibell19

Kansas City is having a year to remember as they currently sit 9-0, the best record in the league.  Despite their great record, however, they have two games against the Broncos left as well as a Week 16 matchup vs. the Colts.  But despite a tough last half of the schedule, it is safe to say the Chiefs will pick in the 25-30 range in the Draft.

Andy Reid’s boys are playing phenomenally, but there are still some issues they need to address, mostly on the offensive side, to take that next step.

QUARTERBACK
Alex Smith is a decent NFL quarterback but I don’t see him taking a team to the Super Bowl.  Next year will be a contract year for Smith, so drafting a quarterback early will put the pressure on Smith to perform and it will also give a young QB a chance to play. If the Chiefs decided to pick up a QB late in the first I can see them going with Derek Carr from Fresno Sate or UCLA’s Brett Hundley. If the Chiefs decided to go a different route in the first round, Georgia’s Aaron Murray or Alabama’s A.J. McCarron may be good pickups on Day 2.

The Chiefs might part ways with the overpaid Dwayne Bowe, meaning they could target at receiver like Penn State's Allen Robinson in the early rounds.

The Chiefs might part ways with the overpaid Dwayne Bowe, meaning they could target at receiver like Penn State’s Allen Robinson in the early rounds.

WIDE RECEIVER
With Dwayne Bowe in hot water and playing poorly it might be time to replace him. The Chiefs already have speedsters like Donnie Avery and Dexter McCluster, so they may be inclined to pick up a big target like Vanderbilt’s Jordan Matthews or Penn State’s Allen Robinson late in the first, or possibly Brandon Coleman from Rutgers or Devin Street from Pittsburgh in the middle rounds.

TIGHT END
Anthony Fasano is playing well for the Chiefs this year but with little need for help on the defensive side of the ball, the Chiefs might go out and get a TE in the middle rounds.  Guys they might be interested in include Marcel Jensen from Fresno State or Arthur Lynch from Georgia.

SAFETY
If there is one position on the defensive side of the ball that needs help it is free safety.  Eric Berry and Quentin Demps make up a great 1-2 punch at strong safety but a free safety like Lamarcus Joyner from Florida State in the second round would just make their defense that much stronger.

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MID-SEASON LOOK: RAMS DRAFT NEEDS

The Rams' offense has sputtered so far this season, despite top free-agent signings like TE Jared Cook.

The Rams’ offense has sputtered so far this season, despite top free-agent signings like TE Jared Cook.

BY LANCE N. POIRRIER
@IBleedBluNOrang

The bar was set very high for the 2013 Rams, but due to a lack of continuity and an unfortunate visit from the injury bug, the Rams are in their usual disappointing form. The Rams seem to have a great base to build off of come 2014, but they’ll need some help along the way.  With the addition of head coach Jeff Fisher the Rams seem to have their defense and how it operates down to a science. But the St. Louis offense is lacking serious production which is upsetting considering the money they put into top free agent OT Jake Long and TE Jared Cook.

The Rams’ 2014 draft should focus on the offensive side of the ball.  With their own pick and the final first-rounder from the RG3 trade with the Redskins, the Rams have the opportunity to add some serious help on offense.

OFFENSIVE LINE

The Rams offensive line as a whole has been rather disappointing considering the expectations brought on with the additions of veteran guard Harvey Dahl, former first-overall pick Long, and the top choice of the 2nd round in 2009 Rodger Saffold. The Rams need to focus on adding a quality center, as well as another guard or tackle.

With the possibility of the Rams having two high picks in the first round, offensive tackles like Texas A&M’s Jake Matthews or Michigan’s Taylor Lewan are not completely out of the question. Another option for the Rams later in the draft would be my top-rated center in the 2014 draft class, Hroniss Grasu from Oregon. The Rams need OL help if they want to get the most out of QB Sam Bradford.

The Rams need a legitimate #1 WR, and Vandy's Jordan Matthews has the size/speed combo to be just that.

The Rams need a legitimate #1 WR, and Vandy’s Jordan Matthews has the size/speed combo to be just that.

WIDE RECEIVER

Rams’ rookie sensation Tavon Austin was my favorite prospect of the 2013 draft class, and last week’s performance against the Colts should tell you why.  But for the Rams to truly get the most out of an electric slot receiver like Austin, they need to add a prototypical #1 wideout; someone around 6’2″ – 6’4″ and 220 pounds to really draw some focus away from Austin and Cook. With the Rams having two high picks in the first round they could easily spend one on such a wide receiver such as, USC’s Marqise Lee or Vanderbilt’s Jordan Matthews, either of whom would be ideal in St. Louis and could really open up their rather sluggish offense.

RUNNING BACK

The Rams thought they had struck gold last year with 7th-round pick Daryl Richardson, but it appears he’s fallen into a sophomore slump this season with minimal production, and even losing his starting job to rookie Zac Stacy. Stacy is a serious option for the Rams moving forward but he comes with an injury history that’s followed him into the NFL.  Some guys the Rams should consider on day two of the draft are Arizona State’s Marion Grice, UCF’s Storm Johnson, or Ohio State’s Carlos Hyde.

QUARTERBACK

The Rams may also consider drafting a quarterback in 2014 with current starter and hopeful franchise centerpiece Bradford entering the final year of his rookie deal.  It seems OC Brian Schottenheimer prefers to have a QB who can make quick reads and stay inside of the pocket, even in the face of pressure.  2014 draft prospects like LSU’s Zach Mettenberger and Alabama’s A.J. McCarron may be the perfect fit in St. Louis should the Rams want to spend a high pick on a QB.  If the Rams were looking for a developmental-type passer they may consider North Carolina’s Bryn Renner.

Safety is the only glaring need on the Rams' defense, and solid options like Louisville's Hakeem Smith should still be available in the middle rounds.

Safety is the only glaring need on the Rams’ defense, and solid options like Louisville’s Hakeem Smith should still be available in the middle rounds.

SAFETY

The lone blemish on St. Louis’ outstanding defense is the play of inexperienced safeties. Again, the Rams could spend one of their top first rounders on a renowned college safety like Alabama’s Ha’Sean Clinton-Dix or wait until later in the draft and target guys like Ohio State’s C. J. Barnett or Louisville’s Hakeem Smith.

CORNERBACK

The Rams may also consider adding some youth at corner to challenge current stater Cortland Finnegan, and push Janoris Jenkins, who’s struggling in his sophomore season. With CB help not being a direct need the Rams could wait until the 3rd round or later, leaving them with such players as Oklahoma’s Aaron Colvin or Nebraska’s Stanley Jean-Baptiste, both of whom could excel in Fisher’s pressure defense.

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