11 QB Aaron Murray (6’1″ 212 pounds, SENIOR)
Elite level production and four year starter at Georgia who has gotten better and better over the course of his four years. Doesn’t have ideal size compared to some pocket passers, but there are more and more under 6’2″ quarterbacks having success in the NFL. Had an extremely efficient year as a junior, completing nearly 65 percent of his passes with a 36-10 TD/INT ratio.
Really improved placement on his throws and does a great job of leading receivers to spots. Great footwork in the pocket and escape ability. Owns one of the strongest arms in the draft, and has a lightning quick release. I think Murray will be a perfect fit for an offense that likes to take a lot of shots, and while I don’t view him as a scrambling quarterback, I definitely think he has plus athletic ability.
The biggest knock on Murray is whether or not he can step up and win his team a big game. That’s probably the most glaring weakness scouts see right now is that he has not been able to lift Georgia to a BCS title game. Of course, he is not at fault for losing those games, but there is a general feeling that he needs to take the next step somehow. Will excel running an up-tempo offense. Can absolutely light up a scoreboard and stat sheet, but will make some questionable decisions at critical moments of a game. Has to be bigger than the moment, and I think he has great potential in the NFL. I see him as a potential first round pick who likely won’t make it past the top of the 2nd round.
26 WR Malcolm Mitchell (6’1″ 192 pounds, JUNIOR)
Malcolm Mitchell is sort of a model of versatility at Georgia heading into his junior season. A definite early entry candidate with Aaron Murray finishing up his collegiate career, Mitchell is a guy with intriguing size/speed/athleticism/versatility all across the board.
He started off the 2012 season as a cornerback where he started four games and broke up three passes, just one year after putting up really solid numbers as a wide receiver in Georgia’s offense. As a freshman, Mitchell caught 45 passes for 665 yards and four touchdowns. His numbers took a dip as a sophomore with the experiment on defense–where he could very well play if they moved him there full time–catching just 40 passes for 572 yards and four more scores.
Mitchell is an interesting player to me. He has good deep speed, elusiveness in the open field, and the ability to contribute in every phase of the game. He is a highlight reel waiting to happen and if he can be more consistent with his route running, he could very well wind up as Georgia’s highest drafted player in 2014.
He’s a threat to score any time he touches the ball, and if he can stay healthy (meniscus tear in Spring), he should be able to be a big playmaker at the next level as well.
88 TE Arthur Lynch (6’5″ 268 pounds, SENIOR)
Lynch had something of a breakout season in 2012, finishing with just 24 catches but racking up 431 yards and three touchdowns. Lynch has excellent size at the position and looked at times last year like one of the more well-rounded tight ends after a really crazy journey to the starting lineup.
He saw action as a true freshman in 2009, then was asked to redshirt in 2010 due to the team having so many good players at the position. He served strictly as a blocker in 2011 and didn’t catch a single pass, so finally seeing the former top recruit come up big in 2012 was a very encouraging sign.
If he can come along and show some more improvement in 2013, I think Lynch has a chance to be picked in the first two or three rounds of the draft. He is a very big tight end who can really block and has soft hands. In a lot of ways, I think he has the ceiling of a guy like Dwayne Allen, who was picked in the third round in 2012 by the Indianapolis Colts.
5 CB Damian Swann (5’11” 195 pounds, JUNIOR)
On a defense that lost eight starters and a load of players to the NFL, it’s got to be encouraging for the Bulldogs to have a guy coming back like junior Damian Swann, who led the team with four interceptions a year ago.
On a star-studded defense, Swann went largely unnoticed but looks like a guy who can be an absolute stud.
He finished his sophomore season with 53 tackles, four interceptions, 3.5 tackles for loss, two forced fumbles, two sacks, and five more passes broken up.
He is an aggressive defender with good speed and athletic ability, which is why Georgia sent him on as many blitzes as they did last year. He’s a good tackler who is going to really have to step up his game in 2013. I think he’s a definite early entry candidate.
Youngster to Watch: RB Todd Gurley
Gurley is not eligible for the 2014 NFL Draft, but he will surely be considered a top RB prospect going into the 2014 season after a freshman campaign where he rushed for 1,385 yards and 17 touchdowns, averaging over six yards per carry.