NFL Draft Watch Week 8
College football gets more intriguing by the week. With the BCS polls finally being released for the first time, intrigue and excitement is only added. Each week is magnified in importance now as we inch closer to bowl season. The NFL will certainly take notice as games get bigger and the competition gets thicker.
Game to Watch: Alabama at Tennessee
When and Where to Watch: Saturday, October 20 at 7 PM on ESPN
Who to Watch: Tennessee Quarterback Tyler Bray
What to Watch For: Tyler Bray has made many appearances on NFL Draft Watch, in part due to the stiff competition that is the SEC, and in part because his draft stock is really up in the air and a lot is yet to be determined. He could be a player who needs another year of seasoning in the college ranks. Thus far he has struggled against top notch competition. This Saturday however, will be his biggest test of the entire year as the Tide boasts the best defense in the nation, bar none. To date, Bray has tossed 16 scores, while totaling 1,730 yards and completing 60.4 percent of his 217 passing attempts. He has been picked off just seven times. However, being on the draft watch does not bode well for Bray or Tennessee as Bray has struggled mightily in the two previous contests, compiling a 0-2 record. In those games, versus Florida and Georgia, Bray has thrown for 538 yards, completed just 51.7 percent of his passes and just four touchdowns, while being intercepted five times.
NFL scouts are aware of how talented the Crimson Tide defense is, so they will not be expecting an onslaught of points or gaudy stats out of Bray this week. However, there are still many things scouts can learn from and look for this week. The biggest thing they will be watching for is attitude. Things will not be easy this week for the Volunteers and how their leader responds to adversity is going to be judged harshly by scouts this week. They want to see Bray respond by pushing his teammates and staying positive and focused. They will not want to see him pull a Jay (Cutler) and yell at his offensive lineman or other players. That is not good leadership, one of the key X factors in determining the success of a young signal caller. Scouts will also want to see toughness, determination, and fight out of Bray. He needs to hang in the pocket for that extra second in order to get the pass off and complete it, then absorb the hit, get back up and do it again, and again. Furthermore, Bray will have to prove he is determined by never giving up, despite how much they may be trailing. No matter what the scoreboard says Tennessee needs to keep attempting to move the ball, and Bray needs to complete his passes. Lastly, scouts want to see Bray make good decisions throughout the game. It is easy to force passes or make bad decisions versus this ferocious defense, especially as they turn up the heat and apply a lot of pressure. Scouts want to see Bray still make good throws and decisions under pressure.
This is a big game for Tennessee who have the luxury of home field advantage. If Bray plays well and helps keep Tennessee in contention it will be a major boast to his stock and even if the Vols get blown out, his stock can still increase if he has a good game and great poise and leadership against adversity. Dealing with adversity is a huge part of the NFL game and football in general. It’s what separates the winners from the losers and finding a quarterback with the X factors needed to succeed at the next level is huge. Bray has a great opportunity and challenge in front of him; it’s his chance to prove he can handle it.
Game to Watch: Florida State at Miami
When and Where to Watch: Saturday, October 20 at 8 PM on ABC
Who to Watch: Miami Safety Ray Ray Armstrong
What to Watch For: The Hurricanes have a tough home test in this game, facing an explosive and talented Seminole offense. However this test provides Ray Ray Armstrong with a tremendous opportunity to prove his NFL value. The safety position at the next level is evolving. Teams are asking their safeties to have the speed to cover wider receivers; hit and tackle like a linebacker, and still have the size to cover elite tight ends, such as Jimmy Graham and Rob Gronkowski. This is rare to find, but Armstrong possesses it. That is his biggest asset in determining his draft day value.
This game will have complications in his draft stock, particularly because he is playing an opponent with speed to burn and gobs of talent. However the big question mark with Armstrong is his consistency, so one game won’t help his draft stock too much. When watching him, pay close attention to his effort. This is a key to being drafted. If you don’t give all-out effort in college, your stock plummets. To check this effort, see how many times you see him at the end of the play. Is he flying in to get there? Coming in slowly? Already there? Or not there at all? Does he pursue hard or give up easily on a play, especially on a run away from him? If he is flying in or already there, that shows a high motor and effort. If not, that shows a lack of effort and will significantly affect his stock. Make sure you pay attention to his ability to tackle and cover. If you see him miss tackles or get beat in coverage, his stock will be hurt quite a bit. Because of his size and speed ratio, Armstrong is an intriguing prospect but he has much to prove to vault himself into the top two rounds.