Tyler Bray is a fascinating quarterback prospect. The tall, slender junior out of Tennessee was a highly-touted recruit from California. He started for the Volunteers for the last two years, accumulating a total of 7,444 yards on 540 of 922 passing attempts, with 69 touchdowns and 28 interceptions. He’s a toolsy prospect with major upside, but he does come with some pretty significant red flags.
Let’s take a look at his biggest strengths and weaknesses.
| Ht || Wt || Class || Ranking || Projection |
| 6'5" || 215 || Junior || 51 || 3rd Round |
Size: At 6’5”, Bray has prototypical height for the position. He won’t ever have issues seeing over his offensive line, though his three-quarters delivery does negate some of that advantage, leading to occasional tipped passes. He does have room to add some weight, as his 215-pound frame is a bit slight. A couple years in an NFL training and conditioning program should do the trick.
Arm Strength: This is far and away his biggest strength. In fact, Bray is the best pure arm talent in the draft, and it’s not particularly close. He has an absolute howitzer attached to his right shoulder, and is capable of making any NFL throw. He’s mastered the slant and the post, his deep ball is a thing of beauty, and he probably throws the best out route in college football. However, he doesn’t throw with touch very well, and when he tries to, his accuracy often drops off.
Confidence: I wasn’t quite sure whether to include this in the strengths or weaknesses section. Bray is a supremely confident quarterback. He knows he has a fantastic arm, so he takes advantage of it, but often at the expense of his mechanics. He doesn’t hesitate to take shots down the field, which is an underrated aspect of NFL quarterback play. Greg Cosell, of NFL Films fame, has pointed out often that he considers it a big plus for a young quarterback to take throws when he sees them, and Bray definitely ticks that box.
Mechanics: Bray’s mechanics (or lack thereof) are the biggest reason he has a 3rd round grade despite all of his strengths. His footwork is poor-to-atrocious and his delivery is more of a long windup than a snappy release. Given his relative lack of athleticism, his success will hinge on his ability to perfect his dropback, pocket movement, and release. He’s used to relying on his arm strength to complete passes off his back foot and off-balance, but his accuracy really suffers as a result. Spending a couple years with an effective quarterbacks coach could clean up his mechanics and help him realize his legitimate potential.
Decision-Making: The young Volunteer also lacks NFL decision-making. Again, his arm strength leads him into peril. He tries to make throws he should never consider. He’ll often lock onto his first read and stare down receivers. He’s gotten away with it in college, to an extent, but NFL defenses will make him pay. He’s not particularly adept at reading defenses, so he’ll benefit from spending a couple years learning the position. College quarterback and NFL quarterback are two very different positions.
Character: Finally, Bray’s maturity may be questionable. Speculating on the character of someone you don’t know is typically not advisable, but a player’s character often plays a huge part in his success or failure in the NFL, so we have to consider it. Bray has had a couple off-the-field incidents that don’t speak well for him, including a reckless operation of a personal watercraft charge after driving a jet ski too close to swimmers, and a vandalism charge for allegedly throwing beer bottles at parked cars near his apartment complex. He also seems let game circumstances affect his emotions, rising and falling with his team’s performance, rather than rising above it. He’ll need to assure NFL teams that he can move beyond these things.
Tyler Bray has enormous upside. Given his arm talent and experience, if he can clean up his mechanics and decision-making, both on the field and off, he has franchise quarterback potential. However, he shouldn’t be thrown to the wolves from day one. If a team falls in love with his arm talent and tries to turn him into a rookie starter, they’ll be setting him up to bust out of the league.
He would be best suited as a mid-round selection who spends at least a year, if not two, behind a more mature starting QB on a team with an offensive-minded head coach (or at least a good quarterbacks coach or offensive coordinator). I think he would fit in perfectly in Arizona, where he could immerse himself in Bruce Arians’ vertical offense and learn from the guy who played a big role in the early careers of both Ben Roethlisberger and Andrew Luck.