Quarterback Tyler Bray was in the hot seat during an interview with longtime NFL coach and current ESPN commentator Jon Gruden, who grilled the former Tennessee quarterback about everything from his preparation to his decision to leave the Vols one year early.
The interview, which aired last Friday as part of Gruden’s “QB Camp” segment on ESPN, offered a glimpse at some of the questions Bray has fielded from NFL teams who are weighing whether to risk a draft pick on the lanky, strong-armed California native.
“This is a guy who, a year ago, we all thought might be a lock for Round 1 this April,” Gruden wrote on ESPN.com. “Instead, NFL people continue to tell me they don’t question the talent, but they don’t know if Bray is capable of honing it, of focusing on the preparation.”
That was one of the first questions Gruden posed to Bray during the interview. What was Bray’s level of game preparation on a scale of one to ten.
Bray said it was probably “seven or eight.”
And where would it need to be to compete in the NFL.
“Ten,” Bray replied.
Wrong, Gruden said. Think higher. He told him 12.
Bray acknowledged during Tennessee’s pro day workouts that many fans would probably remember him for the Vols’ lackluster record during his tenure. But few of last year’s problems could be blamed on Bray or the star-studded offense.
Even so, there are questions about his performance in big games and big moments.
“They know (Bray) can be good,” said Gruden, referring to NFL scouts. “He’s a good quarterback when he rolls out of bed. They don’t know if he can be great. So many see him as a mid-round prospect.”
Will Bray be a steal for a team a team that picks him up in the third or fourth round? Most believe that Bray’s ideal landing spot is a team that will allow him to learn and develop before throwing him into action.
“He plays with a gunslinger’s mentality, which leads him to abandon sound mechanics at times,” wrote NFL Network analyst Bucky Brooks, who nonetheless likes Bray and thinks he could be an outstanding quarterback with more seasoning.
Bray has gained weight and said he’s made strides in fundamentals and footwork. Now he’s just waiting to hear his name called.
His pre-draft plan: Keep working and keep eating.
“I worked too hard to get (the weight) on,” he said. “I don’t want to lose it.”
Evan Woodbery covers Tennessee football. Follow him at www.Twitter.com/TennesseeBeat.