Browns, Headlines, NFL Draft

2017 NFL Draft: Browns select DL Caleb Brantley with pick No. 185

The Cleveland Browns kicked off the sixth round of the draft, selecting defensive lineman Caleb Brantley of Florida with pick No. 185. Brantley is a player similar to former Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon, who was selected by the Cincinnati Bengals, in that he is a highly talented guy, but has huge character issues. He was arrested and is facing a misdemeanor count of simple battery in Florida for allegedly punching a woman. Before the incident, he was my No. 3 interior defensive lineman. This is my breakdown of the newest Cleveland Brown from my position rankings:

Caleb Brantley is a defensive tackle with a good combination of quickness and bulk. When the ball is snapped, he displays a quick burst off the line, giving him an initial advantage against the blocker. He has quick and active hands that allow him to slap away attempts from offensive linemen to engage him. Along with his active hands, he uses his quickness and good lateral agility to evade the hands of blockers, and to remain free to pursue the ball carrier. At 307 pounds, he has good bulk throughout his body. The former Gator has good strength. He uses his strength to output a powerful punch to blockers, allowing him to throw linemen aside when he is engaged with them. He is a stout player at the point of attack and he is able to hold up against double teams, which allows others around him to be free. He will be able to affect both the pass and run game for a defense. Brantley is able to play any of the defensive tackle spots in 3-4 and 4-3 defenses, making him available for every NFL team.

But, Brantley has some shortcomings in his game. He does not have great length of height for a defensive tackle, coming in at just 6-foot-3 with 32-inch arms. One of the ways his length hurts him is his ability to tackle. He has quite a few occasions where he misses a tackle trying to reach for the ball carrier, but coming up short. His stiffer change of direction and slower long speed also leads to ball carriers escaping his grasps. As a pass rusher, he does not possess a refined pass rushing skill set, lacking a repertoire of moves. He can be stalemated when he is engaged in a pass rush attempt. Lastly, he can get out of position at times and lose awareness of where the play is at. But, Brantley is a defensive tackle with a unique combination of quickness and strength, along with active hands.

At Florida last season, Brantley notched 31 tackles, 9.5 tackles for a loss, one forced fumble and 2.5 sacks in 13 games. Selecting him is a huge risk given his arrest and other character question marks such as admitting he was lazy. The Browns must have done extensive work on the former Gator and decided that it was the right time to take a risk on the defensive lineman. Talent alone, he is a great fit at the three technique on the defensive line for the Browns. But, will he even be on the field is the question. Here are some highlights of the newest Brown:

  • Garry_Owen

    Initially listed as the victim in the incident, now charged with battery. Allegedly knocked a woman unconscious and knocking a tooth out.

    Working off of the presumption of innocence, the Browns drafted him but will not sign him if he’s convicted. While I wouldn’t do it, this is a clever use of a throw-away pick.

  • Saggy

    he has 1st round talent and would have likely been drafted there were it not for this incident. I see nothing wrong with this gamble. In fact, even if he looks like he’ll lose, the Browns can make him do 5000 hours of community service and donate his signing bonus to domestic violence victims. Then he’s free and clear.

  • RGB

    Our DL is going to be evil.

  • Dare I say the new Legion of Boom?

  • Harv

    I get why this is a “smart” use of a draft slot where a guy usually doesn’t make the team. But I wouldn’t have done it. Not while trace smells of of Johnny’s vomit and Josh’s roaches still linger, while the whole crew remembers Justin Gilbert’s lack of accountability. Be clear: “guilty” or not, the video shows that 2 weeks before the most important day in this young man’s life, when all he had to do was not make a headline, he went to a bar and punched a 120 lb woman in the face, knocking her tooth out. Be clear about what Sashi intoned last year about culture change and what he was looking for in young me. Be clear what message this pick send to the young men already in Berea.

    To me, the old stench is so strong and deep that one talented lineman isn’t worth the blatant hypocricy, the sabotaging of their your own claim that they would fumigate the selfish, the stupid and the self-destructive.

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  • mgbode

    Do you have the video because I have not seen that there is anything clear he punched the woman? There was enough circumstantial evidence that his story was true (she was harrassing, then hitting & punching him, he shoved her away to make her stop) including eye witnesses that the Browns decided to take him.

    Sashi even said he would cut him if it turned out the alleged victim was telling the truth. The strong statement from Sashi (as opposed to the Jags GM w/ Dede Westbrook) is part of why I am sort of OK with the pick alongside the possibility of innocence. I’d want to see what else is truly in the folder on him though as other teams didn’t have problems picking Westbrook, Mixon, Conley, etc. earlier.

    I get what you are saying about culture change though. This year’s draft seemed much more focused on measurables and such than anything else whereas last year was on purely high character guys who had high college production.

  • jpftribe

    I was reading about this during the draft yesterday and when it was suggested on the OBR thread, I thought it was a pretty good idea to take a flyer and see how it all unfolds.

    I didn’t expect the immediate blowback, though. Every major publication in the country carried a story on it, and they all painted a picture of a 300lb dude knocking out a 120lb woman. So there is a lot of merit to what Harv says here. Pittsburgh is grabbing a homegrown cancer survivor and Cinci and CLE take woman beaters. Like it or not, that is what is playing in the media.

  • mgbode

    Yes and the football organization needs to own that decision. My hope is that their added investigation revealed his side of the story was correct, but there needs to be time to see what really happened since there is no direct video of the incident itself.

    As with Conley, it stinks that there are enough bad people in the world that these incidents could be true and it sitnks that there are enough bad people in the world that they could be the ones who were targeted and victims.

  • Believelander

    There’s actually no video that shows him punching anyone in the face, and the police report says that he pushed her away from him because she was punching him repeatedly. I kinda think you’re getting preachy on this one, Harv, because you’re sort of getting into it before you have all the facts.

  • Believelander

    The only video I saw showed the woman walking away with her friends. I think she got hit in the mouth in the scuffle that broke out, but all of the eyewitness testimonies I saw say that she hit him first, and most say he only pushed her away from him. I only saw one source corroborate her testimony somewhat, but they said that Brantley “used excessive force” when shoving her away.

  • Believelander

    Even if he turns out guilty, basically every testimony says she hit him first. That is in no way an excuse to punch someone half your size and a quarter of your strength, but if he didn’t pick the fight and someone started punching him in the face under the assumption he wouldn’t hit them back, then he made a very bad choice when he was violently provoked, which has a very different context from someone like Greg Hardy getting in a shouting match with his girlfriend and then escalating it by pile driving her and beating her half dead.

    Even if he is ruled against, it’s a misdemeanor charge, and if he shows remorse in interviews and straightens himself out, you could make him sit and earn a chance to do community service and get on the roster.

  • Believelander

    I don’t really want him on the roster if he is found guilty and they think this is anything more than a young man who got in a bad situation and made a bad choice to fight back against someone attacking him. If they sense any future trouble with him they should just jettison him, and a 6th-round pick isn’t anything controversial if you cut them. A lot of 6th-rounders get cut loose (about half by their second season) for simply not being good enough. This was a really, really smart draft pick.

  • RGB
  • Harv

    joint reply to you and Michael: haven’t seen the video and did read on twitter that it showed the blow that knocked her back and removed her tooth. Obviously, what I read could be wrong. My opinion is “preachy” because to take my position is preachy. To be clear, my point is not that the young man is irredeemable or a flat out sociopath. Given what was at stake for him and what his agents undoubtedly told him he is, however, some combo of moron and person of poor impulse control. Precisely the toxic traits Sashi swore to avoid and purge. If this was Denver or NE, cultures of player leadership and devotion to discipline, my position would be different. The Browns are desperate for talent but flushing the locker room toxins will be hard, and if ever a team needed a zero tolerance policy for a few years it’s this one. Picking a guy who is involved in this 2 weeks before the draft sends precisely the wrong message to every player who will face similar situations. The message is:if you have enough talent, it’s not exactly what we said before.

  • Harv

    [shhh … he’s cute and cuddly and safe now]

  • Chris

    “Every major publication in the country carried a story on it”

    Are those the same major publications that completely glossed over Aroldis Chapman last year?