I always feel the need to preface such posts by making it clear that this is all speculation. I don’t know Murray or anyone close to him, but I feel fairly confident writing this based on my personal observations and countless conversations with people who do follow the program closely.
That said, here are five reasons I think Murray makes the decision to go pro in 2013.
1. There is no better time than now.
If you look at the NFL landscape for 2013, a lot of teams are in the market for a quarterback—either immediately or in the very near future—and the 2013 free agency pool isn’t looking all that promising for franchises like Dallas, Philadelphia, Arizona, or Kansas City (all places with either an aging or falling out of favor quarterback).
Add to that, Murray would be in a very weak QB draft class (only Matt Barkley would be considered ahead of him, in my opinion, and his draft stock took a hit with the shoulder injury), and he’d be coming in with high sentiment after the success of Russell Wilson in Seattle (a QB who Mel Kiper also didn’t like much because of his height); the Seahawks are back in the playoffs at 11-5 and Wilson is a big part of the reason.
So, the market for a sub-6’2″ QB is looking a lot less unattractive in 2013 than it did in 2012 and, with Murray’s intangibles, he’s in the perfect spot to make a serious NFL Combine move should he declare early.
2. His dad.
If you watched the piece above, then you know that Murray is very close to his family. He might feel that this is his best opportunity to make a move in the NFL and have his father along with him for the full ride.
Georgia came within an eyelash of a National Championship appearance, and without their top flight defense returning in 2013, there are no guarantees that the Dawgs will come that close again—particularly with changes coming to the BCS and a much tougher schedule awaiting the Bulldogs next year.
So, why risk injury or, worse, an unimpressive record just for the possibility of an SEC Championship?
3. He’s tired of the criticism.
Murray’s a tough guy, but how many times can you hear the “he’s not a big game quarterback” argument before you say to hell with it!
Murray has had to deal with the questions and the criticisms surrounding his play since he locked horns with Florida in 2010. No matter what he does in a Georgia uniform, some people are likely to never be satisfied; at least at the NFL level he can potentially start anew and formulate a new story for himself; a story that doesn’t involve eggs and toilet paper.
4. He’s ready.
No matter what the armchair quarterback wants to say about Murray, he’s a good quarterback. The throws he’s able to make on the run, rolling out of the pocket, on the fade route, etc., are as good, if not better, than a lot of the guys I see playing on Sunday right now.
Quibble about his height all you like, but he can make the throws and he’s Peyton Manning-esque in his understanding and preparation for playing the game; find me a coach who doesn’t like that in a potential starting quarterback and I’ll find you 10 who do.
5. He wants to give his counterpart a shot.
This may seem silly to say, but Hutson Mason stayed at Georgia so that he could have a shot at the starting job. And while it is true that Murray made it clear that he didn’t know for certain if he’d be prepared to leave or not come decision time, that was before the SEC Championship Game, before the South Carolina debacle, before his father fell ill, and before it became clear that the 2013 NFL Draft would not be the most hearty in terms of QB’s.
In other words, a lot has happened since they had that conversation and there are more than enough reasons for him to go now than there were a year ago.
Murray is nothing if not a team player and he knows that Mason’s only shot will be now—if Murray returns, Murray starts. Period.
This may seem like a flimsy reason, but considering the personality of Murray and how much of a team guy he’s always been, I can certainly see it playing a role.
As I stated at the outset, I don’t have any insider information one way or the other on Murray’s decision, but I do feel like there is a better than 80 percent chance he goes and, if he does, Georgia will have one hell of a time replacing him.