Florida’s Caleb Brantley selected by Cleveland Browns in 6th round of 2017 NFL Draft

Caleb Brantley #57 of the Florida Gators celebrates a defensive stop during the game against the East Carolina Pirates at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on September 12, 2015 in Gainesville, Florida. (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)

CALEB BRANTLEY
FLORIDA
6-foot-3, 307 pounds, DT

Caleb Brantley was the first pick in the sixth round (No. 185 overall) of the 2017 NFL Draft by the Cleveland Browns.

Bio:

Brantley, an All-State first-teamer out of Crescent City in 2012, declared for the draft after an All-SEC second-team effort as a redshirt junior. The compact, powerful tackle tallied 20 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks over the last two seasons, despite being shuffled in and out of a deep defensive line rotation. Brantley was arrested and charged with misdemeanor simple battery less than a week before the draft for allegedly striking a woman and knocking her unconscious during a dispute at a Gainesville bar, ESPN reported.

Scouting report:

Brantley has the quickness to play the three-technique and the power to line up at nose tackle. His initial burst can help him slip past blockers, and he’s also comfortable bull-rushing through them. He isn’t big for an NFL defensive tackle, and it’s hard to tell if his frame could handle extra weight without wiping out some of his quickness. His on-field discipline was already a question mark (10 offsides penalties over the last two seasons), and his off-field trouble raised an unsettling red flag.

NFL Combine results:

40-yard-dash: 5.14 seconds
20-yard shuffle: 4.62 seconds
3-cone-drill: 7.66 seconds
Vertical jump: 27 inches
Standing long jump: 8 feet, 9 inches
225-pound bench press: 21 reps

Quote of note:

“Brantley has the talent and traits that should appeal to both two-gap and one-gap defenses. While we haven’t seen Brantley play in even half of Florida’s defensive snaps in a single year, the talent is there to become an early starter and a defensive force up front.” — NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein

Career highlights:

The Keanu Neal plan: Six Gators players who could turn into first-round picks with strong 2016

Who will be this upcoming season’s Keanu Neal?

Florida tight end DeAndre Goolsby (30) runs past the East Carolina defense including nose tackle Mike Myers (92), and defensive back Terrell Richardson (22) for a touchdown on a 32-yard pass play during the first half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Sept. 12, 2015, in Gainesville, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
Florida tight end DeAndre Goolsby (30) runs past the East Carolina defense including nose tackle Mike Myers (92), and defensive back Terrell Richardson (22) for a touchdown on a 32-yard pass play during the first half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Sept. 12, 2015, in Gainesville, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

Neal benefited from a strong junior season at Florida and NFL combine performance to become a first-round pick in this year’s draft. Is there a current Gators player who could improve his draft stock enough to become a first-round pick in the 2017 draft? Continue reading “The Keanu Neal plan: Six Gators players who could turn into first-round picks with strong 2016”

Power rankings: What Gators position groups are most reliable, least reliable after spring?

We’re past spring practice, but still far away from the start of fall practice.

Florida head coach Jim McElwain watches a play during a spring football game at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on Friday, April 8, 2016 in Gainesville, Fla. (Matt Stamey/The Gainesville Sun via AP)
Florida head coach Jim McElwain watches a play during a spring football game at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on Friday, April 8, 2016 in Gainesville, Fla. (Matt Stamey/The Gainesville Sun via AP)

So what do we do? Let’s take a step back and take a look at where Florida’s position groups stand after the spring. Continue reading “Power rankings: What Gators position groups are most reliable, least reliable after spring?”

Notebook: Jim McElwain pleased with Gators’ first spring scrimmage

GAINESVILLE — Florida held its first spring scrimmage on Thursday, allowing Jim McElwain to evaluate his team in game situations for the first time this month.

Head coach Jim McElwain of the Florida Gators watches the action during the game against the Georgia Bulldogs at EverBank Field on October 31, 2015 in Jacksonville, Florida. (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
Head coach Jim McElwain of the Florida Gators watches the action during the game against the Georgia Bulldogs at EverBank Field on October 31, 2015 in Jacksonville, Florida. (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)

Overall, the Gators’ second-year coach was pleased with the scrimmage.

“Really felt good about the scrimmage on Thursday,” McElwain said. “We got about 117 snaps in, not counting special teams. Got a lot of guys some, I thought, valuable reps, especially some of the young guys.” Continue reading “Notebook: Jim McElwain pleased with Gators’ first spring scrimmage”

Gators DT Caleb Brantley: ‘I’m the best D-lineman in the country’

Caleb Brantley #57 of the Florida Gators celebrates a defensive stop during the game against the East Carolina Pirates at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on September 12, 2015 in Gainesville, Florida.  (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
Caleb Brantley #57 of the Florida Gators celebrates a defensive stop during the game against the East Carolina Pirates at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on September 12, 2015 in Gainesville, Florida. (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)

GAINESVILLE — Caleb Brantley is looking to be one of the next Florida defensive linemen to stand on stage with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.

The Gators have produced three consecutive first-round selections from their D-line, and tackle Jonathan Bullard is expected to make it four in a row in this year’s draft.

Brantley considered turning pro after the 2015 season, but chose to return and chase his first-round ambitions.

“I think I’m the best D-lineman in the country,” he said. “I’m coming out to try and prove it.”

The redshirt junior started 10 of the 13 games he played last fall, earning Second Team All-America honors from Pro Football Focus and finishing with 29 tackles and three sacks.

With Bullard gone, Brantley is Florida’s top returning defensive tackle and has shown it over the past few months.

“I’ve been really happy with Caleb Brantley in the front,” UF coach Jim McElwain said. “I think Jon Bullard did a great job of kind of teaching him what it is to be that person. So far he’s been really good this offseason.”

Brantley spent his first three years in Gainesville trying to become a consistent player and full-time starter. With that role now established, his new focus is getting a handle on the torch Bullard passed down to him.

“He taught me how to be a leader,” Brantley said. “Just be a role model to the younger guys and always do stuff right. You can’t be the guy that coaches look to if you’re messing up. I’m just trying to lead by example. Do all the little stuff, like having your shirt tucked in.”

One of Brantley’s qualities is being an unselfish player. While he’s a disruptive force for Florida because of his quick first step and ability to jump the snap, that doesn’t always show up in the box score.

“When you’re inside there’s 650 pounds of SEC offensive linemen trying to get after you. Caleb Brantley last year took a lot of double teams,” Gators defensive coordinator Geoff Collins said. “Sometimes the stress is going to be on Caleb Brantley getting doubled. But he understands … that’s when the magic happens.”

Brantley often demands multiple blockers, which frees up other defenders to make plays. This usually keeps him from leading the Gators in sacks or tackles for loss, but Brantley doesn’t care if his stats aren’t reflective of his impact.

“It is frustrating, but at the same time I can’t be selfish,” he said. “If you’re good, you’re going to get double-teamed nine times out of 10. It’s a chance for other guys to step up. I’m not the only one on the D-line that’s a hell-raiser.

“You’ve got CeCe Jefferson, Bryan Cox, Taven Bryan. I love our whole D-line. Pick your poison. We’ve got some guys that can get to the passer.”

Perhaps none do it better than Brantley. He was virtually unblockable Wednesday during Florida’s first spring practice in full pads.

“He’s definitely become a grown man for that defensive line,” linebacker Jarrad Davis said. “When it’s time for somebody to block him, good luck. That man knows what he wants and he’s not going to be stopped.”

Florida Gators 2016 spring practice preview: Defensive line

With the start of spring practice inching closer — March 9 — we’ll take a look at the state of each position. We focus on the defensive line today, and shift to a different position each day leading up to the start of spring practice. Continue reading “Florida Gators 2016 spring practice preview: Defensive line”