Every draft has a number of prospects who draft stock is affected by their off-field behavior. Sometimes it is numerous arrests and other times it is less obvious as it is based on a player’s work ethic and leadership according to sources at their school. While some teams remove many players from their draft boards due to character concerns, others remove few and just adjust a prospects spot on the draft board to reflect the point at which they feel the potential reward makes the risk worth taking. Each week we are going to take a close look at a prospect whose draft status could be affected by character concerns and what we are hearing about their actual status. This week we start with East Central Oklahoma defensive end Armonty Bryant who is coming off an outstanding week at the Texas versus The Nation All Star Game.
Having begun his college career at Abilene Christian before ending up at East Central Oklahoma, there are rumors that he was dismissed from Abilene due to off-field issues. However, according to sources that we spoke to, those are false rumors making the rounds as he actually left Abilene due to academics and had not been in any trouble there. While a player’s character is always a real concern, red flags jump out to NFL teams when a player with Bryant’s physical talent ends up at a small school after beginning their career at a high level of football. That is because most big schools will bend over backwards to keep a player like him in their program. Additionally, when a gifted played is dismissed from one school there are usually many other big programs waiting to scoop him up. The fact that no other school jumped in to arrange a way to get Bryant on their team is a concern because many of the bigger schools will actually guide a prospect to a specific junior college that they have a recruiting relationship with to help get that prospect’s grades in order.
It is difficult enough for NFL teams to find explosive edge pass rushers and Bryant’s skills definitely warrant the attention. Blessed with excellent height and length at 6041 and 262 pounds with long arms, Bryant definitely looks the part of an NFL defensive end right now. Especially impressive is his thick and muscular lower body, which helps him to play stronger at the point of attack than most 262 pound defenders. Explosive initial quickness gives Bryant the ability to threaten the corner and his variety of pass rush moves help him defeat OT around the corner or back inside. Still not polished as a run defender, Bryant needs to improve playing with leverage and using his hands to “get a good fit” in order to improve as a run defender.
While the reason for his dismissal from Abilene Christian is not concerning, his drug arrest during practice at East Central Oklahoma is an issue. Because of the NFL’s strict drug policy, teams are always leery of players who could potentially enter the league already classified as a level one participant in the league’s drug program. This is an issue because if a player is “in” the testing program then they are tested repeatedly for drugs, including marijuana, during the playing season and off-season, which raises the chances of failing a test.
According to sources we have spoken to, Bryant is not considered a bad kid at all, but rather an immature one who made a dumb error. His college coaches at East Central Oklahoma speak highly of Bryant’s character and do not believe his mistakes in college will be a long term issue. This is going to likely be the issue that ends up determining if Bryant gets drafted where his talent level and production warrant he should, in the second or third round, or if will slide to the late rounds of the draft. We were also told by some that they believe if Bryant had been at a major football powerhouse where the support staff is larger he likely would have not run into these issues and could well be in position to be a first round pick.
Email Russ at Russelllande@yahoo.com and Follow Russ on Twitter @RUSSLANDE