Today’s headlines from the 2013 NFL combine so far have focused on some of the speedsters and their 40-yard dash times. A LOT…and I mean a TON of players cracked the magical 4.40 barrier. Some even cracked the insane 4.30 40-yard barrier. In a word, WOW!
Matt Barkley’s absence hasn’t helped blow away some of the fog surrounding this year’s QB class, and the “wow” factor just isn’t there like it was last year when Robert Griffin III ran his sub 4.4-40 time and Andrew Luck ran a Cam Newtonish 4.59 in the 40 with a similar build and frame to the 2012 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year.
Nope, none of that this year so far, but Tennessee QB Tyler Bray had the best overall workout. 40-times are not a big deal for most quarterbacks. After all…even in the rapidly changing read-option NFL game, many teams still employ a classic drop-back passer. In fact, Andrew Luck’s style at Indianapolis was a lot more of that than taking off and running a la Cam Newton or RG3.
Tyler Bray ran a 5.0-flat-40 while West Virginia’s athletic Geno Smith ran a 4.56 – the same speed as Cam Newton. He lacks Newton’s size, however, at 6’2″ and 218 pounds. Bray may be the guy who improved his NFL draft stock with his position-specific drills. He showed off both his elite arm strength and good accuracy, consistently putting the ball where the drills called for.
It’s the accuracy issues in college that plagued him. While pressure at the NFL combine is 100% mental – no pass rushers in your face – Bray and also Geno Smith took instructions well from the coaches at those QB drills. Both guys were throwing the deep ball over the receiver’s outside shoulder, which is what the drill called for.
Some of the other QBs looked lost as they were looking to complete the pass. Obviously in a game, that’s what you want, but that’s not the purpose of the drills. It’s a test of both arm strength and accuracy, and I think Bray helped answer at least some of the accuracy questions he’s had in college. He probably needs work with his fundamentals but the workout was promising and can only help his positioning for the draft.
Whatever Bray’s final draft position may be, his coaches at the NFL level have their work cut out for them as he was a very inconsistent college QB. He won’t be one of those day-one rookie starters but could be developed into a starter after a couple of years of good coaching and improvement.
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