The sexy pick at every NFL Draft is always the quarterback. The hero. The leader. The gunslinger who is going to take his new team to the Super Bowl. Yes, the 2013 NFL Draft might have been a little different, but there still were 11 men selected with the hopes of being the next great gridiron god.
E.J. Manuel, Geno Smith, Mike Glennon, Ryan Nassib, Matt Barkley, Landry Jones, Tyler Wilson, Zac Dysert, Brad Sorensen, B.J. Daniels and Sean Renfree all had their name called fulfilling their dream of one day playing QB in the NFL.
But one name was mysteriously missing from this list. A name that had over 7,400 yards passing and 69 touchdowns attached to a solid career at one of the old school great programs in the SEC. A young man who most folks believed would be picked in the third round and was listed anywhere from the fifth to the seventh best signal caller in the draft. Yes, despite a 6-6, 230 pound frame and a cannon for an arm, the NFL mold that is Tyler Bray was left sitting alone, holding a silent phone wondering where he went wrong and if his career was dead.
It is an extremely interesting and intriguing case to say the least. Everyone knew what they were getting in the (Geno) Smith sweepstakes and leave it to the New York Jets to take on that diva headcase. But what was it exactly that blackballed Bray?
Yes, he had his issues with his mouth and some run-ins with less than quality thinking at times off the field, but his ability when the clock was ticking should count for something right? Think about all the knuckleheads before him who ended up having a solid NFL career after being drafted. What made Bray untouchable? He had to have done something or said something in some of his private meetings and workouts, right? No quarterback with his stats goes undrafted. Especially a quarterback from the Tennessee Volunteers.
The NFL Advisory Board releases information from the league to all players who have qualified for the draft to let them know where they stand so they can make a sound decision about signing with an agent and going pro. Obviously, Bray had solid advice that he was a sure-fire selection for him to remain in the draft. But, as they say, the rest is history.
Andy Reid and the Kansas City Chiefs have taken a chance on Bray by signing him as an undrafted free-agent. But the true test will be to see if the questions of maturity help him rise from this failure and prove he is worthy of the title of NFL warrior or if, like Smith in New York, let’s his own greatness and false self-worth get in the way of ability to grow and develop his God-given skill.
Only time will tell. But the ball is now 100 percent in Bray’s hand. No one to blame but himself if he becomes one of the many who just couldn’t make it in the big show.
M Shannon Smallwood is a member of the Football Writers Association of America and the US Basketball Writers Association.
Follow him @woodysmalls.