Tyler Bray may be one of the most frustrating players in the 2013 draft class to scout. This Tennessee gunslinger has all the physical tools and yet lacks all the mental acumen necessary in the NFL.
The first thing to notice about Bray is his physical stature. At 6’6”, 215 lbs, Tyler Bray has the prototypical build to be an NFL signal caller. Bray will not see his draft stock slide like Russell Wilson in last year’s draft due to height limitations.
The biggest strength for Tyler Bray comes from his arm power. Bray has elite arm talent similar to Jay Cutler and Matthew Stafford. Just like these NFL QBs, Bray has the arm strength to make any throw on the field. The question becomes: Will he?
While Bray may have the arm talent of a Cutler or Stafford, he lacks professional level accuracy. Cutler and Stafford are not known for being the NFL’s most accurate QBs and Bray struggles on a consistent basis to make accurate throws.
Bray’s problems with accuracy come from three elements: footwork, release and decision-making.
One of the most basic fundamentals for quarterbacks is footwork. Bill Walsh was famous for saying he could look at a quarterback’s footwork alone and tell if he had a good or bad game. Too often Tyler Bray is putting himself in positions that result in poor footwork.
Bray currently lacks the proper pocket awareness to move and reset his feet before delivering a strike. More often, Bray will step into pressure and throw from off or unset feet. Throwing from this position places immense stress on the quarterback’s upper body to complete the entire throwing motion and provide all the power.
While Bray does have the upper body strength to complete some of these throws, the result is more often an off target or lame duck throw. Bray will need to improve his footwork significantly if he has any hope of succeeding at the next level.
A quick release can elevate a good quarterback into a great one by doing nothing more than saving time. NFL fans became intimately familiar with quarterback releases during the Tim Tebow draft coverage, and the scrutiny has not dipped since.
While not his weakest quality, Tyler Bray’s release leaves much to be desired. Ideally a quarterback will want to release the football with his arm perpendicular to his head with the elbow at a ninety-degree angle. Therefore, the closer a quarterback can hold the ball to the release point, the faster the ball can be delivered.
Tyler Bray is too often caught holding the ball in a lowered position near his chest during his drop back. This position is a nasty habit which adds precious time to his release. Bray’s current delivery is closer to a Jason Campbell-like windup, and needs to be shortened down if he hopes to succeed in the NFL.
The biggest flaw in Tyler Bray’s game at this point is his poor decision-making. Bray appears to be relying on his physical gifts too often and believes he can make any throw regardless of coverage. On the one hand this mentality has lead to some incredible throws that very few quarterbacks could complete. On the flip side, this has led to many errand throws, often ending in a turnover because Bray has refused to make a smarter play.
Tyler Bray needs to improve in reading defenses and going through his route progressions but most of all in giving up on a play. The best quarterbacks in the NFL are able to recognize when a play is dead and either begin running or throw the ball away. Bray is more likely to stand in the pocket, resist imminent pressure and deliver a misguided throw into double coverage.
Closest player comparison: Ryan Mallet
Bray’s collegiate play at this point has turned him into a lesser version of Ben Roethlisberger. With the size and arm strength to make any throw, Bray is always looking to make the big play down the field. However, Bray’s inexperience and propensity for mistakes rather than success puts him closer to a Ryan Mallet.
Just as with Mallet, Bray has the physical upsides and mental downsides that worry many teams. Along with Bray’s poor on-the-field decision-making, he has been cited for off-the-field violations. Currently, rumors have many teams as being seriously concerned about Tyler Bray’s maturity.
There is no denying the pure physical tools Tyler Bray brings to the football field and the potential for success in the NFL. However, there are still many mental and mechanical concerns which will keep Tyler Bray out of the first round and make him more likely a Day 2 selection.
Projected Round: 2nd-3rd