By Charlie Campbell
Summary: For the past few years, there has been a hype about Brantley being a potential dominating player for the Gators. He flashed as a redshirt sophomore in 2015 with 29 tackle with 6.5 tackles for a loss and three sacks. The sophomore needed to get more consistent as a junior and was wise to return to Florida. In 2016, Brantley totaled 31 tackles with 9.5 for a loss, 2.5 sacks and one forced fumble. While the numbers were not much better, he was far more consistent with his disruption in his final season and was one of the best interior defensive linemen in college football.
What really sets Brantley apart are his speed, athletic ability, and strength. Brantley has a fast get-off and excellent closing speed to cause havoc in the backfield. He also is strong, and there are plays where he was a bowling ball bouncing off blockers and rolling through the pocket to cause disruption. Brantley is a major disruptive force at the point of attack.
As a run defenderm Brantley is a tough player. He uses strength to get off blocks with excellent speed to close on ball-carriers. When Brantley is playing well, you see him blow up a lot of runs in the backfield and chase down ball-carriers outside of his gap. He is strong to shed blocks and can consistently bounce off blockers with his strength and speed. Brantley can get into trouble if he wears down and plays too high.
Brantley won’t be a big sack producer with his pass rush, but he is a good contributor in putting pressure on the quarterback. Brantley is fast to fire by guards or cut down the middle to put heat on the signal-caller. He can use power to shed blocks or bull rush into the pocket. Brantley is good at creating sacks for his ends by taking away the ability to step up in the pocket or by chasing the quarterback to the perimeter. Brantley probably won’t rack up big sack totals as a pro, but he will be a tackle who puts pressure on quarterbacks and forces them to move off their drop. Brantley should be an asset as an interior pass-rusher.
For the NFL, Brantley is a perfect fit as a fast three-technique defensive tackle in a 4-3 defense. He is an ideal candidate to use his speed to fire his gap with the strength to hold up against guards. Brantley is not a good fit for a 3-4 defense. He has enough length where coaches could maybe get away with him on some plays some as a five-technique defensive end who moves inside in passing situations.
Sources have said that Brantley has a first-round skill set, but teams have real maturity concerns with Brantley and said he didn’t interview well at the combine. That could cause Brantley to slide to the second round.
Player Comparison: Jonathan Babineaux. There wasn’t a pro comparison that I really liked for Brantley, but Babineaux was probably the closest. At his best, Babineaux was a quick, disruptive defender who made his presence felt behind the line of scrimmage. Babineaux (6-2, 200) and Brantley are very similar in size and have special combinations of quickness and strength. The Falcons selected Babineax in the second round of the 2005 NFL Draft out of Iowa. Brantley could go in that range.
NFL Matches: Detroit, New York Giants, Oakland, Seattle, Dallas, Atlanta, Cleveland, San Francisco, Los Angeles Chargers, Indianapolis, Minnesota and Denver
In the first or second round, there are a lot of fits for Brantley. Late in the first round, there are a few potential landing spots for him. Detroit could be a good fit as it needs an interior disruptor. Brantley could form a nice duo with A’Shawn Robinson.
The Raiders badly need to upgrade the interior of their defensive line. Brantley would give them an inside pass rush they lack. Seattle also needs an interior rusher to go with nose tackle Jarran Reed. Brantley would be a great fit for either franchise.
Dallas lost Terrell McClain in free agency, and Brantley would be a perfect three-technique for Rod Marinelli. The Falcons also could consider Brantley as an interior pass-rusher and an understudy to Jonathan Babineaux.
The Browns have a plethora of picks and could use a three-technique tackle for their 4-3 defense. Taking Brantley in the second round after drafting Myles Garrett in Round 1 could give Cleveland a dynamic defensive tandem. Brantley would be perfect to go next to nose tackle Danny Shelton.
The 49ers also could use ab interior defender like Brantley to help upgrade their weak defense. They are transitioning to a 4-3 defense, and Brantley would give them the three-technique defensive tackle they don’t currently have.
The Colts need to upgrade their defensive talent, and Brantley would bring them an interior disruptor who they lack. The Vikings could consider Brantley in the second round considering the unknown future for Sharrif Floyd.
The Chargers are switching to a 4-3 defense and could consider adding another tackle. The Giants could lose Johnathan Hankins, while Denver could consider Brantley to be a true replacement for Malik Jackson. New York and Denver would probably think of Brantley in the second round because both have bigger needs to address in Round 1.
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