The Cleveland Browns, like every other team in the NFL draft, have to weigh a player’s talent against ugly off-field concerns.
And for the Browns, once the sixth round started, the risk of taking troubled Florida defensive tackle Caleb Brantley was worth the reward. They took Brantley, perhaps a second-round pick without the character concerns, with the first pick of the sixth round. He was available because a week ago he was charged for allegedly knocking a woman unconscious.
Brantley, less than a week before the draft, was charged with misdemeanor battery stemming from an incident on April 13. The police initially reported that Brantley was a victim. According to the Tampa Bay Times a later report reversed course. That report, via the Times, said Brantley made a crude comment to a Florida student, who pushed Brantley. Brantley allegedly responded by striking her in the face and knocking her unconscious, the report said. The victim suffered dental damage. She will require a root canal for a displaced tooth.
Oddly enough, right after drafting Brantley, general manager Sashi Brown said they might not keep him as they continue to investigate the incident.
#Browns exec Sashi Brown said as we continue to investigate Caleb Brantley incident, we may not be comfortable with keeping him
— Nate Ulrich (@NateUlrichABJ) April 29, 2017
There were concerns about Brantley even before that incident. On the field he wasn’t disciplined and took plays off. He didn’t interview well at the combine.
Still, Brantley is huge and quick enough to provide a pass rush up the middle. The Browns, like anyone else looking at the film, could see the potential.
So like the Cincinnati Bengals with running back Joe Mixon, or the Jacksonville Jaguars with receiver Dede Westbrook, the Browns decided they didn’t care about the perception of them taking a player who has been accused and charged in an ugly incident. Every team has to decide its level of tolerance for those players. The Browns found theirs.
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