Questions arose when the Cleveland Browns drafted Caleb Brantley in the sixth round. Why would they spend a pick on a player with a pending abuse allegation? The Browns did their homework on the defensive tackle and must have believed the charges would be dropped. The case was dismissed on Wednesday and Brantley signed a four year deal on Friday.
This is an additional piece to the greatly improved defense. The Browns added the highly coveted Myles Garrett and the hybrid safety Jabrill Peppers in the first round. Fellow tackle Larry Ogunjobi was taken in the third and cornerback Howard Wilson in the fourth.
These rookies should have an immediate impact on the defense or at least push the starters for playing time. Wilson in expected to miss the season with a fractured knee cap so Cleveland found his replacement in veteran Jason McCourty.
Defense was an obvious focal point to improve and it all started with the hiring of Gregg Williams as the defensive coordinator. He uses so many different sets and uses numerous interchangeable pieces to gain any advantages.
Caleb Brantley and Larry Ogunjobi are expected to compete for playing time with an already young line including Jamie Meder, Carl Nassib, Danny Shelton and Emmanuel Ogbah. No one has more than three years of experience and the sole true veteran is Desmond Bryant with nine years under his belt. It should be interesting to see what Brantley is going to bring to the table.
The former Gator was regarded as second round talent, but the abuse allegation hurt his draft stock. This kid is quick off the ball and has no problem penetrating the backfield. Brantley has recorded 20.5 tackles for a loss and 5.5 sacks in 22 starts at the University of Florida. Cleveland hopes Brantley can bring the same kind of production and effort to the Browns.
In his final season at Florida he notched a team high 9.5 tackles for loss and 31 tackles overall. In my opinion, 31 tackles is great for a defensive lineman. The majority of those tackles come on run plays or screens. This has been an area of concern for the Browns for far too long. Brantley’s stats resemble Danny Shelton’s rookie year of 36 tackles. Shelton improved in 2016 with 59 tackles, but only one for a loss and only 1.5 sacks.
This is where the run defense must improve and Brantley should help with this aspect. I expect him to make the roster and have an impact on the team. If everything works out, Caleb could end up being one of the best steals in the draft.
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