September 5, 2013

Pro prospects: Murray in big games; Clowney conditioning

NFL Draft writer Josh Norris on Aaron Murray's record in big games, Jadeveon Clowney's conditioning and a prediction on how many sacks South Carolina could get on Saturday.

Josh Norris, NFL Draft writer for Rotoworld.com, joined us again this week and talked about what to make of Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray’s awful record against top 15 teams, Jadeveon Clowney’s conditioning and the talent on the Bulldogs’ roster. Also, he predicts South Carolina could sack Murray “four or five or six” times.

Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray is 1-10 against top 15 teams. Is there a reason and how much might NFL teams hold it against him come draft time?

Quarterbacks love it when they get the credit for wins, and they obviously hate it when they have to take all the credit for losses. We have seen guys be called a “winner” going to league or “he knows how to win,” but there are what, 10 other guys on the field, just on offense, and 11 on defense. So it’s not just on him. But there are situations where I think he falters and doesn’t succeed that really sprout up against top competition. Just a quick evaluation of Murray will tell you he’s a nice rhythm thrower when it’s a clean pocket. When he is facing pressure, his height does become a factor because he doesn’t throw from multiple arm slots, he does struggle to step up in the pocket and find open lanes. When you look at someone like Russell Wilson or Tajh Boyd who have better vision and kind find those throwing lanes and throw from different arm angles so the ball doesn’t get batted down, Murray doesn’t quite have that. That interior pressure and edge pressure does come up more against top competition. For a while, you can think it’s an outlier (statistic), but it’s a trend. Even if it’s not the right thing to do, the NFL might still hold it against him.

Along the same lines, is anybody at that level talking about Jadeveon Clowney’s conditioning against North Carolina?

I think it’s a bigger deal than it would be at other times because of how much we heard that he was supposed to be in the best shape of his life. I can’t tell you how many blurbs I wrote about him saying, ‘I was out of shape and scouts said I took plays off so I am going to show them this year.’ Still, his impact on the field, even though it didn’t show up on the stat sheet, was felt from the first snap, because of how much UNC altered their offense. Everything was away. Everything was quick. Lots of screens, lots of draws. I didn’t think Clowney looked bad at all. He certainly had an impact even though he didn’t have sacks, tackles for losses, things like that. Obviously, I would like to see him on the field more often, but I am going to hold out before really hammering him on this issue.

How about this year’s Georgia roster? This is usually a team with plenty of NFL talent, but you’re telling me that most of it is young this year, right?

They graduated or lost everyone, especially on defense. You look Jarvis Jones, you look at Alec Ogletree. You look at both safeties, both corners. Look at their defensive front as well. The thing with Mark Richt and this defense is I don’t know if they have used the talent appropriately in the past few years because we have seen a lot of these Georgia players go on and be very productive in the NFL and weren’t so much in college.

One example was last year with Cornelius Washington. He was playing a lot of that 5-technique, end role in their three-man front when he does his best work as a 7- or 9-technique, which is outside the tackle or even outside the tight end, but young guys to watch on that side are Jordan Jenkins, the outside linebacker. Looks really good and really engaged well, great flashes last week, showed some bend.

He’s just a sophomore, and then they are expecting to get back their safety – Josh Harvey-Clemons. Beat writers said this summer that the entire defense is really built around him so I am expecting to see some development from this young unit, especially with him on the field. I think he’s really going to be in the box quite a bit.

On offense, there is a wide receiver named Michael Bennett, very reliable, was Aaron Murray’s go-to target last year before he went down with an injury.

These running backs man, they are ridiculous. Last week, I think [Todd] Gurley got mentioned as a combination of Marshawn Lynch and Jamal Lewis, which isn’t bad at all. He came to Georgia listed at 195 pounds and before this year he weighed in at 232, and he’s still got long speed.

But something to watch is how many sacks Aaron Murray has taken. I think there are six occasions where he has taken four or more sacks. They couldn’t stop anybody last week, and with Clowney and Chaz Sutton they could maybe take him down four or five or six times this week.

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