NFL draft profile: No. 42 — Florida DT Caleb Brantley, quick rusher with concerns

Shutdown Corner

Florida DT Caleb Brantley
6-foot-3, 307 pounds

Key stat: In three years with the Gators, Brantley tallied 19 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks on 1,103 defensive snaps.

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Florida defensive tackle Caleb Brantley can penetrate well but doesn’t always perform. (AP)
Florida defensive tackle Caleb Brantley can penetrate well but doesn’t always perform. (AP)

The skinny: Highly touted prep prospect who committed to Florida, decommitted and then recommitted before redshirting as a freshman in 2013. Was a reserve but played a big role on Will Muschamp’s defense in 2014 alongside NFL talents such as Dante Fowler Jr. and Jonathan Bullard, and started the majority of the games the past two seasons under new head coach Jim McElwain. Brantley proudly boasted prior to the 2016 season that he was “the best defensive tackle in the country” and was named second-team All-SEC by the conference’s coaches after last season.

Best-suited destination: Brantley fits the classic mold of the slightly undersized 3-technique tackle — think Aaron Donald — that has become more roundly embraced in NFL schemes over the past few seasons by teams running 4-3 fronts.

Upside: Outstanding quickness off the snap. Good penetration skills and ability to split double teams against slower-footed interior linemen. Consistently wins single-blocking battles. Has a knack for sniffing out plays and using his quick hands to beat his man to the spot. Brantley offers good pass-rushing potential from the interior and is effective on stunts and twists. Had some big moments in big games (see LSU, Florida State games). His power comes from his lower body, and he can explode through poorly leveraged blockers. Always seems to be wreaking some havoc even when he’s not the one making the play. Faced some of the best talent in the country on a weekly basis and looked the part.

Downside: Strictly a 3-technique DT, it appears. Likely can’t play nose tackle except in clear passing situations and might not have the length to be a 3-4 defensive end. Played on a talented Gators line that was stacked with future pros. Has never played more than half the Gators’ defensive snaps in any season. Brantley has a noticeable lack of discipline in his game and might need hard coaching from a demanding DL coach. Took plays off in spite of a low snap count. Gets greedy and jumpy. Whistled for several offsides penalties, as he tries to anticipate the snap even while playing close to the ball, and can be drawn by hard counts. He tested and interviewed poorly at the NFL scouting combine. Very short arms (32 inches) and yet was able to put up only 21 reps on the bench press, equal to or fewer than a few combine receivers and DBs.

Scouting hot take: “I thought he was full of [expletive] in our [interview with him]. On the surface he sounds good, but you felt the whole time like it was a big sales job. I felt like he was spending the whole [interview] trying to convince us [that the work ethic wasn’t an issue], and it felt a little fake to me.” — College scouting director, after the combine

Player comp: A less explosive Sharrif Floyd

Expected draft range: Late first or early second round.

Previous profiles

Nos. 51-100: Here’s who just missed the cut
No. 50: Indiana OG-C Dan Feeney
No. 49: Iowa DB Desmond King
No. 48: Vanderbilt LB Zach Cunningham
No. 47: Wisconsin pass rusher T.J. Watt
No. 46. Alabama pass rusher Tim Williams
No. 45. Washington CB Sidney Jones
No. 44. Alabama LB Ryan Anderson
No. 43. Ohio State WR-RB Curtis Samuel

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Eric Edholm is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at edholm@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter!

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