Chiefs draft Georgia QB Aaron Murray and Oregon RB De’Anthony Thomas in NFL Draft
05/10/2014 7:46 PM
05/10/2014 7:46 PM
When former Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray met with the Chiefs before his pro day last month in Athens, Ga., he got the sense Kansas City might be his next home.
Murray — the Southeastern Conference’s career leader with 921 completions, 13,166 passing yards, 121 passing touchdowns and 13,562 total yards — felt a strong connection with Chiefs quarterbacks coach Matt Nagy and assistant director of college scouting Dom Green.
“It was a fabulous interview,” Murray said. “We were supposed to go in there and talk for about 45 minutes. It ended up being about an hour-and-45 to two-hour-long meeting of just watching film and talking, drawing up plays. I really got a great feeling from them after that meeting.”
Murray’s intuition also turned out to be spot-on when the Chiefs, who remain in talks with starting quarterback Alex Smith on an extension beyond the 2014 season, snagged Murray in the fifth round with the 163rd overall pick.
“Aaron was a phenomenal leader there at Georgia, been a four-year starter,” Green said. “He’s the type of guy that his teammates rally around and kind of gravitate towards, just an overall very competitive player.”
Now, he’s next in a long line of quarterbacks who have tried to snap a dubious streak.
No quarterback drafted by the Chiefs has won a game for the franchise since Todd Blackledge, who was the No. 7 overall pick in the 1983 NFL Draft.
Murray also joins a crowded quarterback room that already includes Smith, former Missouri quarterback Chase Daniel and former Tennessee standout Tyler Bray, whom the Chiefs signed as an undrafted free agent after the 2013 draft.
“Obviously, if they draft you, they want you to go in there and compete,” Murray said. “That’s my goal right now, to go in there and compete and work as hard as I can. We’ll see what happens from there.”
Murray’s college career ended prematurely when he suffered a torn ACL on Nov. 23 against Kentucky. He didn’t run or participate in other measurable workouts at Georgia’s pro day, but Green said “he looked good throwing the ball. I think he’s a guy that will be ready by camp for sure.”
Murray also declared himself healthy.
“I’m ready to go right now,” Murray said. “I’m fully doing everything when it comes to running, jumping, all my dropbacks, all my rollouts — right and left. There’s absolutely no restrictions right now. The doctors gave me the green light to go out there and do everything, so I’m excited to get out there and practice next week.”
The Chiefs drafted defensive players with their only two picks on the draft’s first two days but addressed the offense with all four picks Saturday.
First, the Chiefs added former Oregon speedster De’Anthony Thomas, who declared for the NFL Draft after his junior season, in the fourth round with the 124th overall pick.
“First and foremost, he’s just an explosive playmaker,” said Trey Koziol, the Chiefs’ West Coast area scout. “He’s got world-class speed, ran track on the Oregon track team up there, which is one of the better programs in the country.”
Koziol also praised Thomas’ versatility, especially his potential value returning kickoffs and punts and the ability to line up in the slot.
Thomas projects as the successor to — and perhaps an upgrade over — Dexter McCluster, who left for Tennessee in free agency after four seasons with the Chiefs.
“He certainly has the skill set to do it,” Koziol said. “It’s up to Coach. But when you’ve got a guy who has kind of a Swiss-Army-knife-type versatility, you can move him all over the place and just look for the best mismatch.”
Thomas, who missed four games last season because of an ankle injury, said he was never caught from behind in college and doesn’t expect to get tracked down in the NFL either.
“Not at all,” Thomas said. “Once I get out (of) the gates, I’m going to score that touchdown.”
Obviously, All-Pro running back Jamaal Charles remains the Chiefs’ workhorse in the backfield, but Thomas offers another weapon in a stable that includes Knile Davis, a third-round pick in 2013, and Cyrus Gray.
The Chiefs shored up their offensive line with both sixth-round picks, adding Tennessee right guard Zach Fulton (No. 193 overall) and offensive tackle Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, a Quebec native who played collegiately at McGill University in Montreal.
Chiefs area scout Pat Sperduto called Fulton a “road grader” and lauded the athleticism of Duvernay-Tardif, a third-year medical student whom the Chiefs discovered at the East-West Shrine Game.
“Both of these guys, these are two nasty people,” Sperduto said. “It’s great, because they both understand the line. They step over the line, and they’re wild-horse riders. They step back over, and they’re shepherds. These are good guys, really good guys off the field, quality human beings. When they hit the field, you’re going to see some people mixing it up. These two will both do it.”Chiefs’ third-day picks
RB De’Anthony Thomas
Round four (No. 124 overall)
Rushed for 594 yards and eight touchdowns last season with the Ducks and also caught 22 passes for 246 yards and a touchdown. An extremely versatile weapon with the ability to reach the end zone on any play.
Thomas is small, but he’s also a playmaker. He’s not a guy who’s going to break tackles or gain yards after contact and isn’t considered a hard worker, but, boy, he sure is fast.
Thomas have five return touchdowns during his Oregon career, including four kickoff returns for touchdowns. He averaged 25.8 yards on 73 career kickoff returns in college and more than 17 yards on 16 punt returns. During a Ducks game in 2012, he scored a rushing, receiving, punt-return and kickoff-return touchdown.
•Where he fits in:
He immediately provides a boost in the return game on special teams and could be an interesting weapon out of the backfield or in the slot for the Chiefs. He is a perfect replacement for Dexter McCluster and probably an upgrade.
QB Aaron Murray
Round five (No. 163 overall)
As a senior, completed 225 of 347 passes for 3,075 yards with 26 touchdowns and only nine interceptions. He completed 921 of 1,478 passes — 62.3 percent — for 13,166 yards with 121 touchdowns and 41 interceptions in his Bulldogs career.
The obvious one is that Murray is coming off ACL surgery. Murray also is shorter (6 feet 1) than the NFL ideal for a quarterback, which — coupled with a low release point — leads to a lot of tipped or batted passes. He also doesn’t have tremendous arm strength.
Murray owns SEC records for completions, passing yards, touchdowns passes and total offense (13,562) and became the first quarterback in conference history to throw for 3,000 yards in four consecutive seasons.
•Where he fits in:
The Chiefs invested two second-round draft picks in Alex Smith, but he hasn’t been signed to a long-term deal. Former Missouri quarterback Chase Daniel got a healthy contract for a backup last season, which likely means Murray will battle former Tennessee standout Tyler Bray — who is taller with a much stronger arm — for the third quarterback spot on the roster.
G Zach Fulton
Round six (No. 193 overall)
Helped pave the way for Volunteers running back Rajion Neal, who finished with 215 carries for 1,124 yards and 12 touchdowns last season.
He isn’t an overpowering presence as a blocker on the interior, but he has the size and mass necessary for success at the NFL level. He does a good job creating rush lanes at the point of attack, but he needs to improve locking up with linebackers at the second level.
Started 40 games in the SEC, so he’s battled tested and has good bloodlines. Fulton’s brother, Xavier, played at Illinois and was drafted by the Buccaneers in the fifth round in 2009.
•Where he fits in:
Fulton might be something of a project, but he joins a young offensive line that lacks experience. The Chiefs signed Jeff Linkenbach from the Colts during the offseason and he’s listed as the starting right guard with Jeff Allen at left guard. Fulton adds depth alongside Rishaw Johnson and Rokevious Watkins, who both played in three games for the Chiefs last season.
T Laurent Duvernay-Tardif
Round six (No. 200 overall)
McGill University (Montreal)
For what it’s worth, McGill averaged 5.2 yards per rush and 7.77 per pass attempt last season with Duvernay-Tardif anchoring the line.
He is raw and the level of play might be a concern. Plus, the rules for blocking are different in Canada, which means he’ll need to engage on blocks much quicker.
Boasts a 4.0 grade-point average as a medical school student and plans to become a doctor.
•Where he fits in: Duvernay-Tardif is a smart and physical player, who the Chiefs believe has a chance to be special. Obviously, the organization invested the No. 1 overall pick last year in left tackle Eric Fisher, but the depth is lacking beyond that. Donald Stephenson, a Blue Springs graduate, is listed as the starter at right tackle with R.J. Dill and Colin Kelly as the only backups on the roster at tackle.