While edge rushers generally produce the flashy statistics to earn the hype, quarterbacks will tell you that penetrating defensive tackles who can collapse the pocket from the interior are every bit as troublesome. That is precisely what Brantley, a Second Team All-SEC pick in 2016, despite somewhat pedestrian numbers, provided for the Gators.
Brantley tallied 31 tackles, 9.5 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks, three quarterback hurries and a forced fumble overall in 2016. For his career, Brantley recorded 81 tackles, 20 tackles for loss, 5.5 sacks, three forced fumbles and one fumble recovery. He was more disruptive than these numbers suggest, however, frequently slashing through the line to harass quarterbacks and ruining opposing rushing attacks despite often facing double-teams. Perhaps at no point was this more evident than in a showdown with rival LSU when the redshirt junior defensive snuffed out three potential scoring drives, including one in the final seconds to preserve the Gators' stunning 16-10 victory, recording five tackles, including three for loss and a forced fumble.
Due to his initial quickness, Brantley projects best as a three-technique defensive tackle in a classic 4-3 alignment. He is likely to come off the board somewhere in the late first to mid second round.
STRENGTHS: Has a compact, powerful frame with a naturally low center of gravity and thick limbs. Springs off the snap with the initial quickness to penetrate gaps and wreak havoc in the backfield. Brantley does a nice job of using an over-arm swim and chopping his hands to knock away the blockers' attempts to latch on, coordinating his hands and feet to slip free. Brantley's quick, powerful hands also show up with his ability to punch the ball out as ball-carriers attempt to slide past him. He shows impressive upper body strength to stack and shed blocks, as well as the lateral agility and balance to sprawl and keep blockers from reaching his legs, rarely getting knocked to the ground. Highly regarded by the Florida coaching staff for his toughness and selfless play.
WEAKNESSES: Average size for the position and his frame might not handle much weight without negatively impacting his quickness. Brantley appears to possess just average arm length and he can struggle to disengage once blockers have successfully latched on. While possessing an explosive initial burst, Brantley tires quickly and does not possess ideal speed for stalking or in pursuit - a characteristic many of the elite three-techniques possess. He shows balance and quickness with a spin move but is slow to pick up the ball again after losing sight of it when using this technique.
IN OUR VIEW: Brantley's initial quickness and raw power help him create some highlight reel plays and he plays with the dogged determination and toughness that scouts will appreciate. His lack of ideal size and sustained speed, however, are significant limitations which complicate his projection to the NFL.
COMPARES TO: Jonathan Babineaux, Atlanta Falcons: Like the 6-2, 300-pound Babineaux, Brantley possesses the initial burst to impact the line of scrimmage but he lacks ideal closing speed to get home. Brantley's toughness and consistency, however, should make him a favorite of his NFL coaching staff, as Babineaux has been in Atlanta over the past 12 seasons.
Career Defensive Stats