Austin Bryant, EDGE
School: Clemson | Conference: ACC
College Experience: Senior | Age: 22
Height / Weight: 6-5 / 265 lbs
Projected Draft Status: 3rd Round
NFL Comparison: Ryan Kerrigan
When you rack up 37 tackles for loss and 21 sacks and are the ‘forgotten’ member of a historic defensive line, that’s insane. It happened to Austin Bryant. When trying to name the defensive talent on Clemson one can usually rattles off popular names like Clelin Ferrell, Dexter Lawrence, or Christian Wilkins. Bryant was that other guy that also wreaked havoc on opposing offenses if you didn’t notice. Bryant was a highly recruited high school player who got offers from the best football programs in the country. He chose Clemson and got spot playing time here and there, mostly filling in injured players like Shaq Lawson and Clelin Ferrell in bowl/playoff games. He became a starter his junior year and has been a force since. He went on to receive All-American, All-ACC honors, defensive player of the week honors, you name it and after his junior year and could have left for the NFL. But he decided to return with his teammates Wilkins, and Ferrell to make a run at a national championship. The chemistry between Clemson’s defensive linemen is impeccable and they accomplished their goals. Now Bryant is focusing on his own journey and he’ll be considered by just about every team in this deep edge class. He’s ready to start and you probably couldn’t ask for a better value.
- Good size, strength, and length for position. Will be able to play OLB in a 3-4 as well as 4-3 DE.
- Quickness and athleticism about him to bend the edge. Dips his shoulder and keeps low when turning. Hand placement is good and hands are quick and active to counter blocks. Keeps linemen on their toes and can use his leverage against theirs.
- Strong player who doesn’t give much ground. Engages lineman and keeps them at arms length to make is easier to disengage. Already has a few counters under his belt and is effective at containment and getting into the backfield.
- Takes good pursuit angles when chasing down players finished up a lot of tackles. Also has experience playing with his hand in the dirt or standing up.
- Doesn’t have the agility, flexibility, or top end speed of other prospects at the position to make those really special plays. Like our own Ryan Kerrigan he is a reliable effective durable player but you just wish he had those extra qualities so he could make so many more plays.
- Overall athleticism isn’t bad especially if he’s going to be a DE at the next level but as an EDGE in a 3-4 you can see him laboring to change direction at times.
- Dropped back in coverage some in college but you definitely don’t want him doing it.
Let’s see his work:
You are not turning the corner on Austin Bryant pic.twitter.com/ug8ipI2Ja6— ClemsonEditz (@ClemsonEditz_) September 8, 2018
How He Would Fit On The Redskins
The truth is Austin Bryant would fit right in with the Redskins proclivity to make strong side defensive ends into 3-4 outside linebackers. Another truth is Bryant would be good in that role but he would come with the same limitations we all know so much about with regard to our current outside linebackers. I see so much similarity between Bryant and our own Ryan Kerrigan. Bryant could go to multiple pro bowls and have several double digit sack seasons. The problem with drafting Bryant is that Kerrigan is still on the roster and likely will be for the next two seasons. Do you have confidence that 2020 will be Kerrigan last in a Redskins uniform? And do you make a mid round pick sit for two years in that anticipation? What do the Redskins want? Do they still want former strong side DE’s made into strong side OLBs? If the answer is yes to the above then the pick makes sense and there isn’t much wrong with it as you know what you are getting with Bryant. If the Redskins are looking to transform their OLB prototype then maybe Bryant doesn’t make that much sense. That idea though is more one taken up with the fandom than the team brass. It’s wouldn’t surprise me either if the coaches tried to play Bryant right away on the weak side I don’t think that is his strength and like Ryan Anderson and Preston Smith he’s limitations will be made even more obvious on that side even if he does manage to rack up decent production. Picking Bryant makes so much sense if you are looking toward the future and imagining the Redskins without a 32 year old Kerrigan going into 2020 but it’s a pick that you will have to wait to see the fruits of. Can the current regime afford that?