Why Undrafted?: Hunter Bryant

Why Undrafted?: Hunter Bryant, TE, Washington
By Charlie Campbell, @draftcampbell

Six years ago, we started a series of articles on why certain prospects went undrafted. In that series, I reach out to sources with NFL teams to find out why their organizations passed on drafting a given player, and/or, what were the reasons for other teams to pass on that prospect. We got a lot of positive reader feedback about the series, so we decided to expand in the genre to investigate why some prospects slid in the draft. Four years ago, we started the Why the Slide? series, and this year it is back. Feel free to email me requests for Why the Slide? and Why Undrafted? at [email protected]. I can’t promise to get to all of them, but I will do my best and definitely will respond to the email.

Last fall, Hunter Bryant was one of the nation’s most productive and dangerous receiving tight ends, recording 52 receptions for 825 yards and three touchdowns. That caused a lot of readers to email me about why I didn’t have him in the early rounds of my mock draft, but I knew from speaking with teams that they had Bryant much lower. Still, Bryant received a good amount of hype throughout the draft process, so Bryant going undrafted surprised some.

Team sources say the reason Bryant was not picked was because many had him graded as an undrafted free agent based on his size and speed limitations. At 6-foot-2, 248 pounds, Bryant is very short for a NFL tight end, and that lack of length is going to be problematic for him to contribute as a blocker. On top of being small, Bryant ran a slow 4.74-second time in the 40-yard dash at the combine. For a team to take an undersized tight end, he has to be a fast dynamic receiver. While Bryant was a productive receiver, his speed does not create any belief that he will be able to separate from NFL defenders. Thus, Bryant slipped to the undrafted ranks.

Bryant signed with the Detroit Lions after going undrafted, but Detroit was not a great landing spot for him because as it will be hard for him to see the field. Tight end T.J. Hockenson disappointed as a rookie, but considering the Lions took him with a top-10 pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, they will give Hockenson a lot of playing time to try to prove them right. Detroit also has veteran Jesse James as one of its main tight ends, and that leaves Bryant battling with a few other players for what will probably be one roster spot. Bryant’s best hope could be to make the practice squad and hope that he can develop from there. It will be very important for Bryant to show he plays faster than his timed speed and is an aggressive blocker in the preseason to earn a practice squad spot.

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