August 31, 2012; Atlanta, GA, USA; Tennessee Volunteers quarterback Tyler Bray (8) throws a pass in the second quarter against the North Carolina State Wolfpack at the Georgia Dome. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

2013 NFL Draft Projection: Tyler Bray To The Pittsburgh Steelers

Tyler Bray – QB – 6’6″/232

When a quarterback is touted as having possibly the best arm in the draft, you’d expect him to be projected as a first round pick.

Unfortunately for former Volunteer QB Tyler Bray that isn’t the case.

Bray has been described as several analysts, including NFL Network’s Mike Mayock (who attended Tennessee’s pro day in March), as having one of strongest arms in this years draft. Bray has also had his maturity and leadership skills questioned on more than one occasion.

There’s no denying that when Tyler Bray was “on” there may not have been a better quarterback in the country, but when he struggled, there might not have been a worse quarterback.

Bray set several records at the University of Tennessee, including the record for most passing yards in a game (530), which broke a certain former Vol’s record of 523 yards. You might have heard of him — Peyton Manning.

If you only looked at the numbers you’d probably be wondering why Bray isn’t projected to go higher in the draft. His 2012 season was one of the greatest seasons ever for an SEC quarterback. Bray’s 3,619 passing yards were the 11th most ever by a quarterback in the SEC.

Bray also finished his career 4th in passing yards all-time at Tennessee. The amazing part of that is he only played 28 games in his college career.

For all the on-the-field success, there were off-the-field issues for Tyler Bray. Last summer he was infamously involved in an incident where beer bottles and golf balls were thrown at a car, luckily for Bray the victim chose not to press charges.

On the field Bray could look spectacular, putting the ball right in the receiver’s hands 40 yards down the field. Other times he’d make mental errors that cost Tennessee some football games.

Bray is something of a gunslinger who loves to fit the ball into tight windows, something that doesn’t always pay off.

Last week Bray was featured on Jon Gruden’s “QB Camp”, a show that has been a popular pre-draft staple on ESPN the past couple of years. During the show there was one comment from Bray that stuck out to me more than anything else that said.

Gruden showed Bray some tape of a game where Bray threw an interception in the end zone. When Gruden asked Bray what he would’ve done different he replied that he should’ve thrown the ball on a more level plane instead of lobbing the ball to the receiver. Even after being able to watch the video and break the play down Bray still didn’t think about going through his progressions on the field.

Bray will have to work on recognizing coverages and realizing he can’t always force the ball to the receiver, if he wants to make it in the NFL.

Where do we think Tyler Bray will be drafted?

Tyler Bray needs to be drafted to a team where he can sit behind an established starting quarterback and learn the position and be coached. Part of Bray’s lack of development his junior year in college was the lack of coaching he received. That’s not to take the blame off of Tyler, he could’ve done more to better himself as a quarterback and a leader.

For those reasons we project that the Pittsburgh Steelers will select Bray in the 4th round with the 115th overall pick.

Bray, much like Steeler’s QB Ben Roethlisberger, is a pure pocket passer. With a time of 5.05 in the 40 yard dash he’s not going to win any races. The type of offense that the Steelers run suits Bray well, he doesn’t need to be a back-up on a team like the Eagles.

Roethlisberger is only 31 years old, but he has missed 8 games in the past 3 seasons. It’s never too early to start grooming a future quarterback. If the Steelers take Bray with a 4th round pick they wouldn’t have a whole lot invested in him either.

Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin spent a lot of time talking to Bray at Tennessee’s pro-day, so there’s definitely some interest there. It’d be a great situation for Bray, Tomlin is the kind of coach to which Bray would likely respond well.

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