Tyler Bray has a lot of traits that NFL teams look for in a franchise quarterback. He's 6-feet-6-inches tall and has a one of the strongest throwing arms in the country. The Tennessee junior is willing to stand tall against the pass rush and take a hit, and he can make throws from a variety of arm angles and body positions.
Bray is fearless. He throws a ridiculous deep ball, and he knows it. He is willing to make passes into tight coverage because he believes in his arm strength, which is a trait that cannot be taught.
But Bray's weaknesses have also been on display early in his junior season. His lack of mobility has caused him to take plenty of sacks and cough up the football on occasion. His inconsistent mechanics have made accuracy an issue. And that fearlessness we talked about earlier has led to a number of passes ending up going the other way.
The tall, lanky quarterback is oozing potential, but he is still a young quarterback, and it shows. Bray needs to prove he can be a leader. He needs to prove that he is willing to put in the work to smooth out his mechanics, particularly his sloppy footwork and long delivery. He needs to take time to develop a better understanding of defenses, and he needs to realize that he can't throw into double coverage consistently, despite his arm strength.
There may not be a more physically gifted quarterback in the college ranks than Bray. But his game could use some fine tuning. Let's take a look at the good, the bad and the ugly from this season.
The Good: Arm strength, toughness/fearlessness, improvisation
Tyler Bray's arm strength is undeniable. He throws a deep ball few can match in college football, and has the arm to fit the ball into extremely tight windows. Check out the video of his game against NC State.
At the :30 mark in the video above, Bray throws a beautiful deep ball for a touchdown, fearlessly attacking David Amerson, one of the nation's best corner backs. Also, notice how easlily Bray hits his receivers on out routes. He is able to get the ball outside the numbers in a hurry. At the 1:30 mark, he delivers another bomb of a touchdown throw, though this time it was to a wide open receiver. He can attack any part of the field because of his arm. He throws deep passes without any hesitation, showing trust in himself and receivers.
The Bad: Reading coverage, inconsistent mechanics
Two interceptions stood out above the rest when watching Bray. The first comes at the :38 mark in the video above from Bray's game against Florida. He rushes this throw and fails to recognize that Lerentee McCray has dropped back into coverage. Bray throws off his back foot right into the McCray's name plate. It was an excellent play by McCray, but Bray needs to recognize plays as they are developing instead of relying on what the defense shows pre-snap.
Now check out 1:37 in this video against Georgia. It's almost the same interception a few weeks later. Bray doesn't recognize the linebacker dropping into coverage, makes a rushed throw right into coverage. He has to do a better job of recognizing that.
The Ugly: Bray's mobility
Check out the 9:35 mark of the Georgia video. It was the play that ultimately ended Tennessee's shot at a comeback. There are two parts to pocket presence. A quarterback has to be tough enough to stand in against the rush, and he has to be athletic enough to move around the pocket, buy time and find receivers down field. Bray displayed his below average athleticism, stumbling through the messy pocket, while not protecting the football. Turnovers like this can't happen, especially at the end of games.
Should Bray declare for the 2013 NFL Draft?
It's only October, but with the way Tyler Bray is playing at the moment, his game would benefit from one more season at Tennessee. However, Bray is the most impressive junior quarterback prospect in the country, and that could mean a spot in the first round of April's draft. It's easy to say that another year would do him a world of good, but if the money is there, it's tough to blame him for taking it. He needs to become more consistent to improve his draft position, though.