Coming into the 2012 season, University of Tennessee quarterback Tyler Bray was projected by some to be one of the top picks in the upcoming 2013 NFL draft. However, issues from both on and off the field have led at least one analyst to state that the junior signal-caller should remain in school rather than declare his eligibility early.
Mel Kiper, Jr. serves as ESPN's top draft analyst and is often looked to for his projections of current college players as fans of professional teams await the selection day each April.
Patrick Brown of timesfreepress.com reports that Kiper—during a conference call with reporters on Tuesday—stated his belief that Bray would be best served to remain with the Volunteers for his senior campaign . According to the report, Bray's stock has fallen to the point that Kiper now lists him as a third-round selection if he were to come out early.
I would say right now another year at Tennessee would benefit him. If he comes out, you're probably looking at maybe a second-, third-round pick potentially, but if he goes back, he's a guy you would think could be in the first-round discussion [next year]. I'd project him more right now to be a third-rounder.
I would say definitely go back to Tennessee and improve on the areas I talked about and try to maximize your rating.
The 6'6", 220-pound Bray certainly has the physical skills many NFL scouts covet when gauging potential quarterbacks for their teams. A strong arm, as well as his size, seems to make the California native an ideal choice for any pro team in need of a quarterback. These attributes caused some services, such as Athlon Sports, to rank him as a Top-10 overall pick for the 2013 draft.
However, as Brown's story points out, Bray has shown little progression over the past year in terms of his mechanics and decision making skills on the field. Further, off the field issues have hurt his stature.
This past July 4, Bray was charged with reckless operation of a personal watercraft and failure to have a boating education certificate, both misdemeanors. As a result of that incident, Bray reached an agreement on the charges in which he agreed to either make three appearances at schools to promote boater safety or make a public service TV spot. He also lost his boating privileges for a year and was ordered to take a boating training course and pay court costs.
Later, Bray was accused of vandalism of a car after the quarterback and a friend had been seen throwing beer bottles from the balcony of an apartment building. No charges were filed in that case after Bray reached out to the alleged victim and offered to pay for the damages to her vehicle.
As far as his talents on the field, Bray demonstrated this past season that he has the ability to be a premier player. He completed 268 of 451 passes for the Vols, amassing a total of 3612 yards. He threw for 34 TD with only 12 interceptions.
Whether Bray will take Kiper's advice or not remains to be seen. Should he return, he would have to learn a new offensive system under the direction of new head coach Butch Jones after having played his first three seasons for Derek Dooley and offensive coordinator Jim Cheney.
Kiper and many others seem to agree that Tyler Bray could turn out to be a skilled quarterback at the next level. However, there are other issues that must be resolved first.
Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association. For NASCAR stories such as Biggest Events of NASCAR 2012: Chad Knaus Escapes Potential Suspension please visit RacingWithRich.com.