KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — Tennessee quarterback Tyler Bray and receivers Cordarrelle Patterson and Justin Hunter will have to make a choice after this season: Leave early for the NFL or stay for their senior seasons?
ESPN college football and NFL draft analyst Todd McShay has some advice for all three: Stick around.
McShay made the comments on a media conference call Friday.
** McShay said Bray has “elite arm talent…maybe the best arm of any quarterback in this class.”
** BUT (there’s always a but), McShay said Bray’s mobility is below-average and he lacks foot quickness.
** McShay said Bray should return regardless of what decision Patterson and Hunter make: “If I was making the decision for Tyler Bray, I don’t care what happens to the other wide receivers. He needs to go back to school and master the art of playing quarterback because he’s too good.”
** Hunter might be the best receiver in the class, but he’s been inconsistent this year. “That doesn’t mean he has to come back,” McShay said, “but he’s another guy that I wouldn’t mind seeing come back for next season, and just get involved in the 2014 draft.
** Patterson might have more natural talent than Hunter, according to McShay, but he’s still raw.
Want to read EVERYTHING McShay said about the Tennessee players? (Warning: It’s long). Here it is, courtesy of ESPN…
I think Tyler Bray can be as great as he wants to be. It’s up to Tyler Bray. It really is. There is a lot of talk about his leadership off the field and becoming more committed. I’m not there in the locker room. I’m not there in practice, so I don’t know that and time will tell. I’ll find out from scouts and coaches that we talk to throughout the process.
But what I see on the field is a player with elite arm talent. Maybe as good, maybe the best arm talent of any quarterback in this class. There is no one who sits there in the pocket and can naturally just sling the ball and place the ball in spots all over the field, short, intermediate and deep the way that Bray can.
The problem is his mobility is below average to poor. He has not, in my opinion, improved his foot quickness, and that’s an area he needs to work on. And he’s only going to get to the point where he’s average at best.
But where he really has to improve is being smart, being a smart football player and a smart quarterback. Knowing where the blitz is coming from, knowing where to go with the ball, depending on where the blitz is coming from, and knowing when and how quickly he’s got to get the ball out.
Can make you the argument he’s not protected well at times, and the receivers aren’t getting off of press coverage and all those things. But there are too many places and too many plays that I can go right now in the next half hour and pick out on tape and say here’s an example, here’s an example, here’s an example of throws that he has to make that Andrew Luck made, that Robert Griffin III made, and Ryan Tannehill made under pressure.
I think that is the big thing. If I was making the decision for Tyler Bray, I don’t care what happens to the other wide receivers. He needs to go back to school and master the art of playing quarterback because he’s too good. That’s why I care. It’s frustrating because he’s too good to be playing at this level. So hopefully it clicks for him, because if it does, he’s got a chance to be a really talented player at the next level, and I hope for his sake that it does.
Justin Hunter at wide receiver. I’d like to see him be a little more physical. He’ll get better in terms of getting off of press and those sorts of things, but he’s such a fluid athlete and a smooth athlete. Really good body control, adjusting for the ball.
He hasn’t been as consistent as I’d like to see him this year, so you can tell just the way I’m talking, I’m hesitating, because I want to say that he’s the best receiver in this class. From a talent standpoint he’s up there in terms of top two or three, and potentially he can be a number one, if you want, a good, starting wide receiver in the NFL.
But there is still room for improvement in his game. That doesn’t mean he has to come back, but he’s another guy that I wouldn’t mind seeing come back for next season, and just get involved in the 2014 draft.
Patterson is probably more naturally talented than Hunter, which is saying a lot. You’re talking in terms of raw tools, he may be the most talented wide receiver in the country, and none of us knew him a year ago coming out of the JUCO ranks.
They’re just kind finding ways to get him the ball. I watched last week. He was in the backfield and they’re handing him the ball, and why not? He’s making plays. I think he’s averaging like 20 yards per carry. He’s so talented in open field carrying the ball. He’s smooth. When you watch him, for such a big guy, he can make cuts and weave in and out of traffic. He’s still playing one‑on‑one level in terms of wide receiver in terms of understanding routes and coverages. He has a lot to learn in that regard.
Who knows if he’s coming back too. But all three of those players turn down the money and go back to school and get better at your craft. Because a year from now you could be so much more prepared to play in the NFL. Forget where you’re drafted. That would be my advice to those three, be prepared to go and contribute in the NFL. Because your first contract is only going to last you as long as your first contract, and where you make real money at the next level is that second contract. The only way you’re going to make money is to be as NFL ready as possible coming out of college. And I don’t think any of those three guys are where they can be one day at this point right now.
(Photo credit: Adam Brimer, News Sentinel)