The Cleveland Browns received some good news on Wednesday: Sixth-round pick Caleb Brantley, out of Florida, is now free and clear of a case that had loomed over his head and likely caused him to fall in the 2017 NFL draft.
According to the Tampa Bay Times, court records indicate that there was “insufficient evidence to sustain a conviction,” which led to the dismissal of the case. The incident in question allegedly occurred in the early hours of April 13, when Brantley reportedly propositioned a woman outside a bar in Gainesville, Florida.
What happened thereafter is unclear based on two conflicting police reports in which both parties, Brantley and the woman, claimed to be victims. Brantley claimed the woman, a Florida undergraduate, punched him, leading to Brantley pushing her in retaliation. Days later, a report surfaced that Brantley punched and knocked the woman unconscious. The police suggested a charge of misdemeanor battery, which led to an investigation by the state attorney’s office.
The reports made their way around the NFL, and a prospect who was considered a possible top-50 selection fell to the 185th overall selection — the first pick in Round 6. The Browns defended the pick at the time but said they were prepared to cut Brantley loose if certain facts emerged in the case.
Many — including, admittedly, we here at Shutdown Corner — criticized the pick as unnecessarily risky for a team that has been cloaked in bad news lately. But the Browns insisted they did their background work on Brantley and were convinced that the pick was worth the risk at that point of the draft. Their gamble, it appears, has paid off, as the uncertainty cost Brantley millions of dollars in salary.
Brantley was never formally charged, and he attended the Browns’ rookie minicamp, saying he hoped to use the case as motivation to prove people wrong. He’s in a great position to do just that on a team that could use all the defensive help it can get its hands on.
#Browns rookie DT Caleb Brantley: "I won’t take the opportunity the Browns have given me for granted"
— Nate Ulrich (@NateUlrichABJ) May 17, 2017
The 6-foot-3, 307-pound Brantley was Shutdown Corner’s No. 42 overall prospect in the 2017 draft prior to the battery report. He’s regarded as a good interior penetrator, albeit one whose motor didn’t always run hot and a player who, our sources told us, interviewed poorly at the NFL scouting combine. In three years with the Gators, Brantley tallied 19 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks on 1,103 defensive snaps.
The Browns might have received some bad news with fourth-rounder Howard Wilson suffering a serious knee injury last week. But the Brantley news was a nice little bump that should have a beleaguered but hopeful team brass smiling a bit more now.
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