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An in-depth expose of Caleb Brantley: Cleveland Browns Film Room

The Cleveland continued their busy Day 3 of the 2017 NFL Draft by making one selection in the sixth round. With pick No. 185 of the sixth round, the Browns selected interior defensive lineman Caleb Brantley of Florida.

The Browns continued to upgrade their defensive front seven with their second selection of an interior defensive lineman in the draft. Many expected Brantley to go higher in the draft, but character questions curtailed those expectations. At Florida, Brantley notched 31 tackles, 9.5 tackles for a loss, one forced fumble and 2.5 sacks in 13 games.

So, what can the Browns expect from the former Florida gator defensive lineman? Well in this week’s film room, we will take a look at the strengths and weaknesses of Caleb Brantley. Let’s roll the tape!

Cleveland Browns Draft Film Room Series: Myles Garrett, Jabrill Peppers, David Njoku, DeShone Kizer, Larry Ogunjobi, Howard Wilson, Roderick Johnson

Strengths

Quick Get-off/Snap Reaction

Caleb Brantley gains a quick advantage on blockers using his fast snap reaction and impressive quick get-off of the line of scrimmage. Here are three plays that illustrate this strength. In the first play versus Tennessee, the Volunteers offense is running a handoff to the running back. The Florida star is lined up in the right A gap. He fires off the snap and is too quick for the right tackle to get in front of in time. His burst off the line allows him to dart into the backfield and make the tackle for a loss. In the second play against Tennessee, Brantley is lined up over the right guard against the zone read run play. He fires off the line at the snap, once again being too quick for the right tackle to get in front of to block. He gets into the backfield and gets his hands on the quarterback, but is unable to finish the play. Nevertheless, his penetration disrupts the flow of the play, causing no gain on the play.

In the final play versus Vanderbilt, Brantley is lined up in the right B gap against this passing play. He is quick out of stance, allowing him to initiate contact with his blocker first. He is able to get to the guard and quickly slip past his grasp, giving him a free lane to the quarterback. He did not reach the quarterback, however he caused the quarterback to leave the pocket and eventually throw the ball away. Brantley has solid snap reaction combined with a quick get-off that allows him to get out of his stance before blockers, earning him a quick advantage.

Hands

One of the best assets Caleb Brantley has in his game are his hands. Here are some examples of his hands helping on the field. In the first play versus Vanderbilt, Brantley is lined up over the left tackle against this run play. The runner starts to go up the middle of the line, but is met by a Gator defender. The running back is able to slip away, however this is where Brantley comes up big. He is defending the edge on the play, though when he sees the runner cutting to the outside, he uses his hands to rip away from his blocker and meet the runner where he is able to take him down to the ground. In the second play against Tennessee, Brantley is lined up over the right guard versus this passing play. The Florida star is able to come off the line and get his hands on the guard. He is able to push the guard’s arm away, making him free from his grasp. He then uses his right arm to box out the center from getting ahold of him. These efforts allow him to get to the quarterback and hit the arm of the quarterback to cause the interception.

In the final play against Florida State, Brantley is lined up in the interior of the line versus the passing play. He comes off the ball and gets his hand quickly on the left guard. He is able to swipe the left guard with his left hand, crossing the blocker’s body and swimming underneath the grasps of the guard, which causes him to get off balance. Once he gets beside the left guard, he uses his right hand to push the center away from him and get a free path to the quarterback. He swats a final attempt by the left guard to get ahold, letting him to make a big hit on the quarterback, which causes the quarterback to not follow through on the pass. Brantley has active and strong hands that allow him to control blockers and move them at his will. He uses his hands to disengage from blocks and keep himself clean.

Lateral Quickness/Agility

Caleb Brantley displays impressive lateral quickness and agility, which helps him penetrate through the offensive line. Here are some examples of these important traits. In the first play versus Vanderbilt, Brantley is lined up over the right guard in this pass rushing situation. When he comes out of his stance, he immediately moves laterally to the center inside. He is able to move quickly across the body of the center and finishing off the center with a quick swim move. His lateral quickness allows him to get free and make a hit on the quarterback, who throws an incompletion. In the second play versus Vanderbilt, Brantley is lined in the left B gap for this pass rushing situation. In this play, he shows off his quickness and agility on another swim move. He fires off the line and immediately swoops around the left guard with the slick swim move, turning his body sideways to sidestep the blocker. Once he slips past the guard and puts pressure on the quarterback, it causes him to leave the pocket and throw the ball away.

In the final play against Florida State, Brantley is lined up over the left guard versus this run play. When the defensive lineman comes out of his stance, he is able to turn his body and slip through the crack between the left guard and center, using his agility and quickness. Once he is through the crack, Brantley is able to take down the running back behind the line of scrimmage. Brantley is able to slip through cracks and quickly penetrate the line, using his agility and lateral quickness to avoid blockers.

Strength

Paired with all of his other strengths, Caleb Brantley possesses impressive strength in his game. Here are examples of the defensive lineman’s strength. In the first play versus Tennessee, Brantley is lined up in the left B gap versus the run play. The play comes right at the defensive lineman, but he shows his strength by standing strong on his spot and not giving up any ground to the blocker. He stands his ground, causing the runner to run right into him and not be able to score. In the second play against Florida State, Brantley is lined up in the left A gap for this run play. He fires out of his stance and immediately unloads a powerful push on the center. The Gator star is able to push the center back and out of the way, so he can get to the backfield, where he is able to track down the running back for a loss.

In the final play against Florida State, Brantley is lined up in the right A gap for this run play. The defensive lineman shows off his strength on the play by exploding into the right guard, causing him to open up his stance. He is able to hold off the guard with just one arm, showing the strength to keep the lineman at bay with a single arm. He is able to penetrate the backfield and stiff arm the guard, getting free to chase the running back down and bringing him down for a loss. Brantley has great strength, allowing him to stand stout at the point of attack, but also push a lineman back into the backfield. His strength helps him control blockers and move them where he wants them to go.

Weaknesses

Character/Effort Level

One of Caleb Brantley’s biggest question marks is his character and effort level. He was involved in an altercation with a woman that caused him to be arrested, however later the charges were dropped. This is something the team had to investigate to see if it his character or false accusation. Beyond the off-field question marks, Brantley’s character on the field is also up for discussion. He admitted during the pre-draft process that he did not showcase the highest level of effort on every play. He admitted it and said he must work on his effort. This is not something players can simply work on. Effort is a mindset. He has to change his mindset to play all out for every play. His effort level hurts his consistency as a player and that is a big question mark in his game.

Length

Caleb Brantley lacks ideal length at just 6-foot-3 and 32-inch arms, which can affect his game in a few ways. Here are some examples of his length hurting him on the field. In the first play versus Vanderbilt, Brantley is in the right A gap against this run play. He plays the run very well, reading it quickly and flowing down to the right to meet the runner in the hole. He is able to avoid the traffic and be in the right spot to make the tackle, although his lack of length hurts him on the play. He tries to wrap up the running back with his arms, but his shorter arms were unable to fully engulf the runner, allowing the runner to slip out of his grasps for more yards.

In the second play versus Tennessee, Brantley is lined up over the left guard for this pass play. He shows off his quick get-off, quickness and agility on the play, shooting up field and into the backfield. He is able to get a free lane to the quarterback, who is rolling out of the pocket. Except, his lack of length hurts him again when he tries to sack the quarterback. He gets his hand on the quarterback, but he does not have long enough arms to get a good grasp that could bring the signal caller down. The quarterback breaks through the arm tackle and completes a pass down field.

In the final play against Florida State, Brantley is in the right A gap in this short yardage situation. His lack of length hurts him on this play in the trenches. He fires out of his stance, but he loses the battle quickly against the blocker because he allows the lineman’s hands into his body, pushing Brantley back and out of position. He did not have long enough arms on this play to shield his body from getting engaged by the blocker. Longer arms help linemen keep their body clean and leverage strong. Brantley’s lack of length hurts his ability to tackle and face off against bigger, longer lineman in the trenches.

Awareness/Discipline

Caleb Brantley can be undisciplined and show a lack of awareness on the field. Here are some examples of his undisciplined and unaware play. In the first play versus Vanderbilt, Brantley is lined up in the right C gap in this play action pass. He shows off his impressive get-off, penetrating through the line and into the backfield. Then, he loses awareness on the play. The quarterback fakes the handoff and rolls back to the right to pass. Brantley continues to follow the running back to the left. He follows the runner for a long time till he figures out the ball is in the quarterback’s hands, allowing the quarterback time to complete a pass without pressure. The fake handoff was not even that deceptive, but Brantley was completely fooled. In the second play versus Tennessee, Brantley shows off his undisciplined play. He gets too antsy and commits an encroachment. He was not disciplined enough to wait till the ball was snapped to fire out of his stance.

In the final play versus Alabama, Brantley is lined up over the left guard against the run play. He fires out of stance to the right before knowing where the ball was going. He seemed like he had no plan of action on the play. When he shoots to the right, he stops and looks around to find the ball. When he does this, he turns his back on the ball carrier, losing complete awareness of where the ball is at on the field. Luckily his teammates were able to make the stop, but he lost all awareness on the play. Brantley shows instances where he loses awareness of the play and gets out of position. His undisciplined play sprouts up especially pre-play, committing 10 offside penalties over the past two seasons, according to NFL.com.

Counter Moves/Pass Rushing Skill Set

Caleb Brantley can struggle to get away when his initial move is thwarted, lacking reliable counter moves, while also not toting an intricate pass rushing skill set. These three plays showcase these weaknesses. In the first play versus Tennessee, Brantley is lined up in the right A gap for this pass rushing situation. He comes off the snap and crosses the body of the center and into the left guard. However, he is stalemated from there. He tries to get past the guard, but seems to give up and not try any other moves. Brantley had no counters to get past the guard, letting the guard to just pass him off to the tackle and not gaining any penetration during the play. In the second play versus Alabama, Brantley is lined up in the right B gap for this pass rushing situation. In this situation, he tries to swipe the right guard’s arms and then do a swim move to get past the guard. He is controlled by the guard and is unable to get any sort of penetration. His swim move was not a good enough counter move to his swipe move to gain any advantage against the blocker.

In the final play versus Tennessee, Brantley is lined up in the left B gap for this pass rushing situation. On this play, he shows little complexity in the pass rush. He fires out of stance and makes a jab at the left tackle. Brantley then just leaves him and tries to swoop down through the interior of the line. But, he runs right into a double team and has nowhere to go. He did not have any intricate move to get pass the right tackle and was pretty much defeated on that play early. Brantley needs to refine his pass rushing skills, although without great speed, athleticism and length, he will be limited. Along the same lines, he must improve counters so he can win after being stalemated on the first move.

  • RGB

    The NFL.com scouting report lists his Draft Comparison as Aaron Donald.
    “Powerful, stout defensive tackle with the quickness to play the three-technique and the power to play the nose. Brantley has the talent and traits that should appeal to both two-gap and one-gap defenses. While we haven’t seen Brantley play in even half of Florida’s defensive snaps in a single year, the talent is there to become an early starter and a defensive force up front.”

    I’ll take some of that.

  • tsm

    I am counting on our new DC to deal with the motivation issues.

  • TimCleveland

    Similarly, I think one could argue that counter-moves is an area that most college d-linemen need to work on to be successful in the NFL.

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