Many QBs chosen, but none named Bray
Posted: Monday, April 29, 2013 7:00 pm
By MIKE STRANGE
Knoxville News Sentinel
We can only speculate as to when Tyler Bray really started expecting that he might see his name flash on the screen.
Surely not Thursday night. The first round of the NFL draft was out of the question. Go catch a movie.
Friday evening, I’m pretty sure he was locked in. Second round? Hey, a guy can hope. Crazier things have happened. Third round? Keep the cell phone handy.
Saturday had to be the longest day of his life. By the time the seventh and final round started, Bray might have been numb.
Then came the crazy finish. Four more quarterbacks got called. But not the one with the big arm from Tennessee.
With the 221st pick, Brad Sorensen of Southern Utah went to San Diego. Not the guy who flung 69 touchdowns in a 28-game career.
At 234, Denver chose Zac Dysert of Miami. The one in Ohio. The Broncos passed on the guy who originated all those bullets to Cordarrelle Patterson and Justin Hunter, two of the first four receivers drafted.
At 237, B.J. Daniels, a 6-foot senior from South Florida got snapped up by San Francisco. Not the prototype 6-foot-6 specimen from down the valley in Kingsburg, Calif.
With the 249th pick, Atlanta chose Sean Renfree of Duke, not the guy who led Tennessee to an impressive season-opening victory in the Georgia Dome and went on to pass for 3,612 yards last fall.
Soon after, Justice Cunningham, a tight end from South Carolina, was bestowed the title of “Mr. Irrelevant,” the final pick of the 2013 draft.
Despite all the bad body language and beer-bottle throwing that is part of Bray’s legacy, I was stunned nobody took a chance on him. Surely, I thought, one team will gamble that a laser arm prevails over immaturity.
But even in the final hour, down to the dregs, one team or another preferred a receiver from Elon, a linebacker from Harding, a defensive end from Missouri Western and a guard from Chadron State to the quarterback from the SEC who routinely played in 90,000-seat stadiums.
From start to finish, a draft-record 63 SEC players were deemed worthy of a selection. One of them was Tyrann Mathieu, The Honey Badger, who had all sorts of bad marks on his rap sheet at LSU, certainly more than Bray did.
Bray, we assume, was rebuked because of A, concerns about his maturity and/or work ethic, and B, flaws in his mechanics and decision-making. He could have overcome one, but not both.
As for the latter issue, his 69 career TD passes were almost equally divided between SEC and non-conference opponents. But of his 28 interceptions, only five were in non-conference games and 23 against SEC defenses.
At first glance, he looks foolish now for forfeiting another year of seasoning in the nation’s best conference. But improving his stock wasn’t a given. His four leading receivers are gone and the offense of new coach Butch Jones is not tailor-made for a 6-6 pocket passer.
Bray, of course, will get a chance to prove everyone wrong. He will reportedly join the Kansas City Chiefs as a free agent. If he can beat out second-year pro Ricky Stanzi, who has never played in a game, he might hang on as the third quarterback.
Bray can, in essence, still prove he’s not the real “Mr. Irrelevant” of the 2013 draft.
Mike Strange may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org Follow him on Twitter at Strangemike44.
Published in The Messenger 4.29.13