Jim McElwain has steadily rebuilt the reputation of Florida football down in Gainesville, that is in large part due to the stout defensive play of the past couple seasons. Last year we saw guys like Jonathan Bullard and Antonio Morrison get drafted out of Florida’s front 7, this year, Caleb Brantley leads the charge.
The Crescent City, Florida native is a man with enormous confidence. Prior to the season he dubbed himself as the “best DT in the nation”, he also went on to add, “it’s not close”. While that’s up for debate, there’s no debating that he held a monumental role on the Gators’ defense this season. He led the team with 9.5 tackles for loss and frequently held on double-teams and allowed players behind him to flourish, fellow NFL Draft prospect Jarrad Davis being one of them.
Brantley comes from a challenging background. Growing up, he wandered into the wrong crowd. His dad spent a lot of time in prison and his mom worked multiple jobs in order to make ends meet. Brantley recognizes the privilege of playing in the NFL and the importance it actually means for him and his family. He is set to be at the very least a Day 2 pick in the NFL, and could even hear his name called on Day 1.
Name: Caleb Brantley
Class: Junior (RS)
Comparison: Jay Bromley (New York Giants)
Draft Grade: 3rd Round
— Jonathan Valencia (@JonValencia_WiB) February 18, 2017
Positives: Shows flashes off the ball with good snap timing and quickness. Advanced hand usage and can win in a variety of ways. Active hands off the snap. Gets solid push on most plays. Adjusts well to offensive line positioning after the snap. Often deals with double teams and can split the blockers. Confident player and sets goals for himself.
Negatives: If he doesn’t initially win with quickness off the snap, he’ll likely lose the battle. Rarely shows any effort in pursuit when the play develops in far proximity. Will get into the backfield then give up on the play. Doesn’t play with a high motor – he’s not going to chase down any ball carriers. Lacks ideal length, range and closing speed. Compact tackle radius. Struggles to finish plays even when he gets in position. Doesn’t set himself up well in one-on-one stop situations. Often allows ball carriers to shake him off. Poor tackler. Inconsistent against the run and gets sealed off too often. Typically gets inhaled on spin move attempts. Sometimes will get caught with a low base and his feet spread on initial engagement. Looks to wear down as the game goes on – stamina could be a concern. Knocked to the ground/falls to the ground too often.
Outlook: Brantley is a guy who has gotten 1st round buzz, but to be honest, I just didn’t see that. His best quality is his quickness off the snap and ability to burst through the offensive line, which is better than most defensive linemen in this year’s class. However, at times he looks like a deer caught in headlines when he gets into the backfield. His lack of effort in pursuit is incredibly concerning. Brantley gets in position to make plays, but he will rarely make the stop and requires help tacklers. His stamina looks to be a concern, so his ideal role in the NFL will be best served as a rotational 3-tech. He could provide a lot of spark off the bench when he’s kept fresh.