After three games, the stars of the offense and defense, respectively—Aaron Murray and Jarvis Jones—are right where they should be.
According to ESPN.com, early analysis on both Jones and Murray is that both are likely to go in the first three rounds (Murray in the third and Jones in the first), but there is still enough good football left to be played that the verdict is still out on both players; after all, prior to his performance against Stanford this past Saturday, Matt Barkley was thought to be a shoe-in for the Heisman this year.
Things can change on a dime in college football.
That said, here’s what the “experts” are saying about both Murray and Jones right now.
Georgia QB Aaron Murray (77)
Murray is one of those quarterbacks teams will be eager to measure because he appears shorter on film than his listed height of 6-1, with a weight of 212. That lack of height appears to affect his ability to scan the field from within the pocket, and he also needs to do a better job taking care of the football. Still, Murray has the arm talent, foot speed and leadership skills teams look for in a quarterback, which is why he projects as a Day 2 pick at this point. (Steve Muench, “Where do top Heisman candidates stand?”, ESPNInsider.com, 9/18/12)
Despite the fact that the prototypical passer is better than 6-2 (preferably 6-3) and weighs in at a robust 220+ pounds, there are several starting quarterbacks in the league right now who aren’t of that mold—Drew Brees, Michael Vick, and Russell Wilson (Wilson being the ‘runt’ of the litter at 5-11)— and while both Brees and Vick have found a measure of success in the NFL, the verdict is still out on Wilson.
“I say he’s a test case. You’re talking about Russell Wilson in the NFL, he’ll get a chance to be a starting quarterback. If he can’t get it done, for the next 10 years, I don’t want to hear anything about any quarterbacks under 6 feet, in that 5-11 range. If this kid can’t make it, nobody can at that particular height.” – NFL draft analyst Mel Kiper on draft night
The success of Wilson can only help the perception of a guy like Aaron Murray whom many feel would have a difficult time being successful given his height limitations, but Murray can help himself a lot simply by playing consistently smart football the rest of the way—there’s no better time than now.
As for Jarvis Jones, many felt he would have been a first-rounder last year had he chosen to make the jump and that opinion is no different after the first three games.
Georgia OLB Jarvis Jones (94)
The only defender on this list, Jones’ dominating performance against Missouri likely played a role in his getting some votes. Stats are often misleading, but it’s tough to overlook nine tackles, two sacks, five quarterback hurries, an interception and two forced fumbles against a tough conference opponent.
Jones (6-2, 242) is nearly impossible to block one-on-one thanks to his first step and overall explosiveness, and his ability to line up outside or inside makes it tougher for offenses to account for him. Just ask the Tigers. He needs to get stronger as a run defender, but he has excellent range and carries a mid-first-round grade thanks to his overall skill set. (Steve Muench, “Where do top Heisman candidates stand?”, ESPNInsider.com, 9/18/12)
The question with Jones isn’t a matter of ‘if’ he’ll go in the first round, only where’, and if he continues to be a force off the edge for the Bulldogs this season, I could easily see him landing in Top 15 (maybe even Top 10) territory before it’s all said and done.