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SEC stars Aaron Murray, AJ McCarron drafted back-to-back


Georgia's Aaron Murray and Alabama's AJ McCarron frequently were mentioned together in the past four or five months, and not just because both had a lot of success in the SEC.

Both were considered members of the second-tier group of quarterbacks in this draft and they went on back-to-back picks. Going forward, they likely will remain linked because both fell in the draft, going in the fifth round.

Murray was selected with the 23rd pick of the round (163rd overall) by the Kansas City Chiefs. McCarron went to the Cincinnati Bengals on the next pick.

Murray dropped just a little bit. He is coming off ACL surgery, and he was expected to go in the fourth round. But McCarron's drop was more of a tumble, as he was considered a second-day selection -- and a top-100 player -- by most analysts.

NFL Media insider Ian Rapoport said during NFL Network's draft coverage Saturday that McCarron rubbed some team executives the wrong way during team interviews, and other analysts brought up the question of whether his Alabama teammates liked him. "It's not his physical capabilities" causing his slide, NFL Media draft analyst Mike Mayock said about 30 minutes before McCarron was selected.

Both quarterbacks are going to teams who made the playoffs last season, and with veteran quarterbacks. Kansas City has Alex Smith and Cincinnati has Andy Dalton.

But Rapoport said Kansas City's negotiation on a long-term deal with Smith is "not going well," and if a deal doesn't get done, things could get extra interesting for Murray in 2015. He is unlikely to play much, if at all, in 2014.

Interestingly (and somewhat stunningly), no quarterback drafted by Kansas City has won a game for the Chiefs since Todd Blackledge -- who was drafted in 1983.

Mayock said Murray has "an innate feel for the game" and this is a "perfect situation, especially for a quarterback-driven guy like (Chiefs coach) Andy Reid."

As for the Bengals, while Dalton has led Cincinnati to three consecutive playoff appearances, he is 0-3 in the postseason, and Mayock said "the question going on in Cincinnati right now is: Is he worth that number (the salary given to 'big-time' quarterbacks)?"

Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher, who was serving as a guest analyst for NFL Network's draft coverage, said he first saw McCarron when he was in high school in Mobile, Ala., during the time Fisher was an assistant at LSU. He was impressed then and remains so now. He thinks McCarron fits nicely with the Bengals because "he doesn't have to come in and play right away."

Fisher also shrugged off the thought that McCarron is only a game manager.

"To me, that's the ultimate compliment," Fisher said, noting that as a coach, "you have to have trust in your quarterback" and McCarron engenders trust because he takes care of the ball and avoids mistakes.

Besides, he's not just a game manager, Fisher said: "He does more because he has arm talent."

Mike Huguenin can be reached at You also can follow him on Twitter @MikeHuguenin.



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