Thor Nystrom

Evaluations

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Supplemental Draft Preview

Wednesday, July 11, 2018


  • Mississippi State S Brandon Bryant | 5’11/207 | 4.45 forty, 34-inch vertical, 10’3 broad jump, 7.26/7.52 3-cone, 4.23 short shuttle

  • Like those above him on this list, Bryant declared for the supplemental draft after leaving the team over academic issues. He’s a purported freak athlete who is coming off a poor season. Earlier in his career, it was reported that Bryant had run a 4.24 40-yard dash with a 600-pound dead lift. We didn’t see much of that athleticism last fall. In 2017, more than a third of his Bryant’s 32 season tackles came against Auburn (11). He was hit with a DUI charge prior to the season (January).

    On the field, Bryant is a hammer who only sees nails. He flies around the field and levies the occasional bone-jarring hit. Too often, though, he’s caught out of position because he’s failed to diagnose correctly. Bryant’s game lacks nuance. He has a see-ball, hit-ball philosophy, but like a hitter who lacks plate discipline, he can be easily fooled. And for all the big hits, there are also plenty of missed tackles sprinkled in.

    Another reason he’s not around the ball enough is due to his athletic stiffness. Bryant is a downhill sprinter, not an east-west fluid mover. His pro day results disappointed. Bryant will still be an above-average NFL safety in terms of pure athleticism, but we’re talking in the top-30th percentile, not the top 3-percentile, which his “freak” athleticism billing implied.

    On his ability to play safety alone, Bryant isn’t terribly interesting. But due to his stout build and athleticism, NFL teams will no doubt perceive Bryant as a guy who could contribute on special teams immediately. You don’t have to squint hard to see Bryant streaking down the field on kick coverage to obliterate some poor return man.

    Once he gets his foot in the door, Bryant will need to work extremely hard to factor into some team’s future secondary plans. If he can improve his skill level, improve his diagnostic skills and cut down on unforced errors, Bryant could become a third safety. But while he’s flashed talent (see his freshman campaign, or last year’s Auburn game), Bryant spent the past two years as a souped-up tease. The holes in his game are just too wide at present for me to perceive a path for him to eventually become a low-level starter.

    When I was working on my 2019 safety list, Bryant was right on my cut line. He would have ranked somewhere between S15-20 on that list. I saw him as a late-rounder or UDFA in 2019, and I’d assume he goes undrafted on Wednesday (though I wouldn't be shocked if a team took a Round 7 flier on him for the perceived special teams ability). When I posted my UDFA prediction on Twitter a few weeks ago, Bryant DM’d me the “shh” emoji, which I got a big kick out of.

    Prediction: UDFA
    Team: Cardinals

    • Grand Valley State RB Martyveus Carter | 5’11/202 | Pro Day: N/A


    A lower-level superstar, Carter went off for a D-II leading 1,908 rushing yards and 20 touchdowns in 2016. He dropped off to 931 yards last season while battling injuries, but still managed a sterling 7.6 YPC.

    Carter returned to school, no doubt hoping for a 2018 that approximated his 2016. Unfortunately, he was ruled ineligible in the spring, forcing him into the supplemental process. A fight in high school may have cost him a chance to go to Northern Illinois, and Carter has long struggled with academics. He enters the NFL with character concerns.

    Carter has a precarious uphill climb in front of him. His mix of quicks, feel and evasion in the second and third levels allowed him to torch small-school defenders. In the NFL, where his athleticism will go from plus-plus to (I'm assuming here; we don't have test numbers to go on) below-average, he’ll be exposed.

    Carter isn’t much of a receiver, and he lacks pop as a runner. He doesn’t have the power to be a lunchpail type, he doesn’t have the skill to be a third-down back, and he doesn't have the upper-level athleticism to be anything but one of those two things.

    He’s worth a look, however, and it wouldn’t be stunning if he hung on to a practice squad slot this fall. I just can’t muster any more enthusiasm than that.

    Prediction: UDFA
    Team: Titans

    • Oregon State LB LB Bright Ugwoegbu | 6’0/205 | Pro Day: 4.97 forty, 33-inch vertical, 9’6 broad jump, 7.38 3-cone


    Ugwoegbu declared after an indefinite suspension in April effectively ended his collegiate career. Oregon State used Ugwoegbu as a sort of chesspiece, deploying him as a LB/S hybrid.

    If you squint a little and put on your magical thinking cap, Ugwoegbu sort of looks like one of those undersized new-age linebackers like Deion Jones or Roquan Smith. But if you open your eyes and expose your skull to the sun, you’ll see Ugwoegbu for what he is: A linebacker with a safety’s size and a nimble defensive linemen’s athleticism.

    For reference, Ugwoegbu measured in around Justin Reid’s size, and his athletic tests cited above weren’t much better than Alabama DT De’Ron Payne’s (Payne actually ran a faster 40). Despite carrying 82 more pounds, Cal DT James Looney beat Ugwoegbu in all the tests above except the broad jump (Ugwoegbu’s was an inch longer).

    It would be easier to account for all this if Ugwoegbu displayed other-worldly skill on the field. He doesn’t. As an edge rusher, he’s raw and unrefined. And in coverage, his lack of athleticism can get him torched if he finds himself matched up with an athlete. He’ll also turn 23 in September, making him older than many rookies we saw picked in April.

    Ugwoegbu's best attribute might be his motor. On-field desire may have gotten him here, but it’s unlikely to take him much further. I expect his stay in the NFL to be short, more likely counted in weeks or months than in years.

    Prediction: UDFA
    Team: Bears



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    Thor Nystrom is a former MLB.com associate reporter whose writing has been honored by Rolling Stone magazine and The Best American Essays series. Say hi to Rotoworld's college football writer on Twitter @thorku.
    Email :Thor Nystrom



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