Kevin C. Cox
Tyler Bray may be the most talented quarterback in this year's class.
Tennessee quarterback Tyler Bray is the second of nine 2013 NFL Draft quarterback prospects that Buffalo Rumblings will profile this off-season. Bray was this author's favorite quarterback coming into the draft season, and in a position to compete to be the first overall pick. After an inconsistent junior season where his stock dropped dramatically, Bray elected to declare for the 2013 NFL Draft.
Tyler Bray | QB | Tennessee
- 6'6", 232 pounds
- Started 24 games over three seasons (13-11 record, 0-1 in bowl games)
- Career stats: 540/922 (58.5% completions), 7,444 yards (8.07 YPA), 69 TD, 28 INT
Bray is the best pure pocket passer in the draft. His arm strength is elite for the NFL game. He beats defenders with the ball, getting the football to spots on the field so fast that defenders can't react. When he's set in the pocket and his front foot placement is sound, it allows him to step through his throw and properly rotate his hips. While this helps, it's not the source of his arm strength. Bray's arm itself is very powerful. He often frustrates defenses by throwing off his back foot, or backpedalling and still throwing strikes with great velocity. The overall point is that Bray's arm is more than NFL quality; it's better than most of the quarterbacks currently throwing in the NFL.
Bray is good in the pocket at times, which he needs to be, because he's not mobile. He can see over the offensive line with his height, and no special blocking schemes are needed to allow Bray to operate. Most folks will cite Bray's immobility as a weakness. He won't be confused with RGIII, but he's got good pocket mobility. Bray can step up in the pocket and deliver the football with bodies crashing around him when he's focused and playing consistently, which has been a problem. Bray normally throws with a traditional arm movement, though he'll change it when it's required and still get the ball out. His arm motion doesn't change; he'll use the same wind-up to deliver a deep strike or a shorter throw.
Bray is more accurate than his stats indicate. Cordarrelle Patterson and Justin Hunter are very good college receivers. They also dropped a lot of footballs that made Bray's completion stats look a lot worse than they are. When Bray's mechanics are sound, he delivers a very accurate football into the strike zone. Bray doesn't need to see a receiver open. He's trained at throwing to spots before the receiver breaks, and did it with some regularity. As the spread formation proliferates in college, operating from under center has become a significant concern for draft prospects. Bray showed equal skill from under center and in the shotgun.
Bray has two major weaknesses that I see when I've watched him. The first is correctable, and the second is a gamble. Bray is mind-numbingly inconsistent with nearly everything he does. From footwork to reading defenses, Bray is all over the charts in terms of performance. The second weakness is his attitude.
Bray is rough around the edges of his tremendous raw talent. He knows how to set his feet properly and deliver the ball to exactly the right spot, but he doesn't do it all the time. Bray's accuracy wasn't all his receivers' fault, and I trace it mostly to bad footwork. Bray knows where to go with the football, but he'll regress and still stare down receivers. I've seen him work the pocket masterfully in some games on some plays, while in others it's as if he's got no feel at all. Bray has a great deal of talent, but a lot to work on.
What concerns me more than his inconsistencies is his attitude. He doesn't seem to have a team-first, killer attitude. His interviews make him look like an arrogant college kid that has been given a lot in his life. He doesn't come across as a leader, and his off-season issues at Tennessee underscore the point. Bray comes across as a ultra-talented kid that never really works for anything. A team wants a quarterback who is the hardest worker on the team, and someone that's a leader. Right now, that's not Tyler Bray. A team drafting Bray needs to be careful.
Bray needed to stay in college and keep working on his skill set. I think he declared due to the Tennessee coaching change, and now he'll need to work harder in the NFL. While he enters the league far ahead of most in terms of natural talent, he's far behind in terms of working to hone skills and consistency. He's very similar to Brock Osweiler, for me, in terms of his high degree of natural talent but a significant requirement for development.
For Bray, the interview process becomes the focal point for teams in the draft process. Coaches can fix what Bray doesn't do consistently. Bray's attitude needs heavy evaluation. He's on the Ryan Leaf - Jay Cutler - Jim Kelly spectrum in terms of his attitude. At worst, he's Leaf, overwhelmed by the league and unable to work into being a professional. At best, he's Kelly, arrogant but works to become among the best at his position, and a leader. Or maybe he falls somewhere in between, like Cutler, who has natural talent and clearly works hard, but leaves a lot to be desired as a team leader. That's for the Bills, and the other teams, to figure out.
Buffalo is not a bad spot for Bray if Buddy Nix and Doug Marrone think Bray will work to develop, and they don't take him too high in the draft. Bray's a project, but a project who has the skills to excel in Marrone's offense in Buffalo during December and January. If Buffalo is confident Bray will work to develop, picking him in the third or fourth round would be a wise investment. Buffalo would need to sit Bray for a season (probably more) like Denver plans to do with Osweiler. At Bray's best, he's a franchise quarterback with the talent to lead Buffalo to a championship. At worst, he won't work hard and be out of the league early. The most important, and difficult, evaluation on Bray is determining his attitude towards becoming a professional.