GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Caleb Brantley was taken by the Cleveland Browns in the sixth round of the 2017 NFL draft as the No. 185 pick.
He is without question the biggest draft loss for the Florida Gators.
Brantley had a breakout season in 2016, his second year as a starting defensive tackle. He flourished under the tutelage of Chris Rumph and filled the void left by Jonathan Bullard, a third-round selection in the 2016 draft.
Here’s a closer look at the former Gator:
1. Caleb Brantley battery case
The potential legal troubles hanging over Brantley’s head could cost him millions, even if the State Attorney’s Office elects not to pursue the misdemeanor battery complaint against Brantley. He was initially listed as the victim in a physical altercation with UF student Chelsea Austin on April 13.
This past week, however, the woman alleged that Brantley knocked her unconscious and displaced a tooth. His attorney maintains the victim in the matter is Brantley, who entered a written plea of not guilty Monday.
2. Impact on Caleb Brantley’s draft status
The latest reports seem to support Brantley’s version of events, but damage was done to his draft stock.
Prior to this week’s news, Brantley was projected as a second-round pick by ESPN’s Mel Kiper and Todd McShay as well as WalterFootball.com. NFL.com’s Chad Reuter had Brantley going in the third round. Brantley ended up being the first pick of the sixth round.
3. Other knocks on Caleb Brantley
Brantley played for two different staffs at Florida, but both said the same thing in regard to how he needed improve his game. Gators coach Jim McElwain repeatedly praised Brantley for his talent, but challenged him to show it on a consistent basis and not take plays off.
At Florida’s pro day, Brantley acknowledged that NFL teams have raised the issue with him.
“Everyone thinks I don’t play hard every play, which I agree with,” he said. “I could have definitely improved on that this year, but that’s probably my biggest knock right now.”
4. Pass rush productivity
When Brantley is playing hard, however, the results are impressive. At one point last season, he led the nation in pass rush productivity for an interior D-lineman, generating pressure on 19 of 79 pass snaps, according to Pro Football Focus.
He earned second-team All-SEC honors, finishing the year with 31 total tackles, a team-high 9.5 tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks.
5. Rising to the occasion
As well as Brantley played in 2016, he saved his best for the end of the season when facing two of the nation’s top running backs. He had a career-best game against Leonard Fournette and LSU, then followed that up with another 5-tackle performance against Dalvin Cook and Florida State.