Editors Note: It’s officially draft season, folks. Here at The Falcoholic, we’ll now be bringing you a plethora of scouting reports on prospects that the Falcons might be interested in drafting. For those of you that can never get enough #DraftContent, it’s your lucky day.
Today’s report is on Florida DT Caleb Brantley. He’s a fringe 1st round talent who I believe to be a great fit for the Falcons’ needs on the defensive line.
DT Caleb Brantley
Brantley is a stout player with average size but a well-proportioned frame. He's primarily a penetrating DT that lives in the opponent's backfield. Brantley is not enormous by any means, but possesses excellent strength and has shown the ability to play at either 3T or 1T. Hand technique is good: he is always fighting with OL and has shown off an effective inside swim move. Can win the leverage battle at the snap and dominate weaker or smaller OL. Has a knack for disrupting plays and shows off good closing speed for a player his size.
Brantley is a fierce competitor. Rarely, if ever, quits on plays. Will attempt to recover if beaten and make tackle at the second level. Takes on double teams reasonably well, and will continue trying to affect play even if well blocked. Solid tackler that hits with force--rarely misses tackles in the backfield, and if he does, hits the opponent hard enough to stop momentum. Brantley is a well-rounded player that is excellent against the run and shows considerable upside as a pass rusher. Could continue to improve in the NFL by adding more moves to his rushing repertoire.
Brantley's strengths can be used against him. Teams will often allow him to penetrate and then run through his gap. Can overshoot runners at times. Will occasionally bite on play-action fakes. Impressive strength often covers up lack of ideal size, but will likely need to add more bulk to play nose and consistently handle double teams at the NFL level. Needs to show better awareness in passing situations: rarely gets his hands up to bat down passes when blocked out of plays.
Brantley's low overall number of snaps throughout his career create conditioning questions, as he may be asked to take on a more prominent role for an NFL team. Appears to be somewhat reliant on snap timing to achieve most potent rush and will need to show more discipline in the NFL. Brantley hasn't shown great ability on twists and stunts; appears to be best equipped for a standard power rush. His lateral movement may be a concern as he hasn't consistently shown the ability to bend or chase down more agile players in the backfield.
Grade: 1.5 (late 1st, early 2nd)
Brantley is one of my favorite DTs in this draft class because of his relentless effort. He strikes me as a player that meets Quinn’s standards for toughness and competitiveness. Brantley plays hard on every snap, and his technique and disruptive ability are very impressive.
I actually envision Brantley as a somewhat similar player to Grady Jarrett: slightly undersized, can play both 1T nose and 3T tackle, good hand technique, and capable against both the pass and run. Brantley has no questions about his motor or love of the game and no prominent injury concerns, making him a relatively safe pick towards the end of the first round.
Having a player that can perform the same functions as Grady Jarrett is actually very valuable for this defense. That versatility can allow Quinn to be creative with his personnel packages. Brantley and Jarrett can both be on the field at the same time, or one can spell the other. Ideally, a player like Brantley could help improve both the base and nickel packages.
With a clearly defined need at DT, Quinn’s Florida connection, and Brantley’s ideal fit on the Falcons’ defense, Caleb Brantley is a logical choice for the Falcons with their 31st pick.
What do you think of Brantley’s fit on the Falcons’ defense? Do you view him as a worthy first round selection for Atlanta? Who are some other players you’d be interested in with the 31st pick?