Murray, McCarron admire Saints

BRISTOL, Conn. -- The New Orleans Saints aren’t in the market for their next starting quarterback yet, with starter Drew Brees still thriving at age 35.

But Georgia draft prospect Aaron Murray said, "I’ll gladly back up Drew for a few years. That’s fine with me. He’s my favorite quarterback."

I chatted with both Murray and Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron this week while they were doing a series of media interviews at ESPN headquarters.

Both former SEC stars are projected as mid-round draft prospects -- which probably makes both of them long shots for the Saints since they likely won’t invest a premium pick on the position.

But never say never. Saints coach Sean Payton loves working with quarterbacks, and he said recently that the scouting department always takes a close look at quarterbacks leading up to the draft because the position is so vital. Perhaps a prospect like Murray or McCarron or Virginia Tech’s Logan Thomas could be a tempting mid-round option.

Murray and McCarron both said they didn’t visit New Orleans during the pre-draft process. But they both said they had very positive experiences while spending time with coaches at various offseason events like the scouting combine, Senior Bowl or pro days.

"I know Coach Payton really well," said McCarron, who was promoting AXE Hair Gels during his ESPN rounds. "He came over and talked to me several times, came over and talked to me some at my pro day. He’s a great man. ...

"And then I got to know Drew, I met him up at the Super Bowl, and he’s a great dude. Unbelievable. One of the best probably ever to play the game at that position. So, yeah, that would be a great situation, for sure."

Murray, who at 6-foot-1, 207 pounds, is a smaller quarterback like Brees, said Brees has long been his favorite quarterback to watch. He said former Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham used to provide players with NFL tapes, and he watched more of Brees than anyone else.

"We have very similar styles. Not only just on the field just playing ball, but leadership as well," Murray said. "That’s something I work extremely hard to do, to take control of the team and represent the University of Georgia both on and off the field. And that’s something he does well ...

"And then you just go to ball, and he’s a lot of fun to watch. ... All summer long I’d be watching some of his games, what he does maneuvering out of the pocket, watching him get through reads."

A mid-round prospect that might make even more sense for New Orleans is Alabama receiver Kevin Norwood, whose stock has seemed to be on the rise based on recent talk from draft analysts.

"Supposedly now they’re talking about he’s a third round (pick)," McCarron said of the 6-2, 198-pounder, raving about what a clutch receiver and a "genuine dude" he is. "I think just a lot of offensive players at Alabama are underrated coming out, just because our defense is always the main focus, playing for a defensive coach like Coach (Nick) Saban. So I think it’s just an offensive burden in a way, that we have in a way, coming out. Just kind of pushed to the side almost.

"But Kevin’s gonna be a hell of a receiver."