BEREA, Ohio -- Former University of Florida standout defensive lineman Caleb Brantley waited a lot longer than expected to get a call from a team saying they were going to use a pick on him in the 2017 NFL Draft after he was charged with simple assault of a woman two weeks prior.
But when the Browns called his number with a sixth-round pick last month, Brantley was filled with a sense of gratitude that someone took a chance on him despite the off-the-field incident that is still pending in the Florida court system.
“I’m just thankful for the opportunity that the Browns gave me,” Brantley said during the first day of Browns minicamp at team headquarters in Berea Friday. “I’m just thankful I get to be here and try to make the team.
“My heart was a little heavy watching the draft. It was hard to watch it, but like I said, man, when the Browns called me and they selected me, I’m just thankful for the opportunity.”
On April 13, just two weeks to the day before the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft, the 6-foot-3, 300-pound Brantley was accused of knocking out and causing dental damage to a woman at a Florida bar. The woman in the alleged incident was listed as 5-foot-6 and 120 pounds.
On April 21, Brantley was officially charged with simple battery by the Gainesville Police Department. He pleaded not guilty to the charges on Monday, April 24.
“I ain’t going to say I did hear all the stuff that was said about me, but there’s definitely a chip on my shoulder,” Brantley said. “I’m just going to go out and prove everybody wrong who said bad things about me, said I have character issues and all of that. But I ain’t really worried about it, just ready to move on.
“I don’t feel no pressure at all, honestly. I like adversity. I like overcoming challenges. I like that chip on my shoulder, so I don’t really got no bad blood about it.”
In 13 games as a sophomore in 2015, Brantley registered 29 total tackles, including 6.5 for lost yardage.
During his final season with the Gators, Brantley started 11 games and played in all 13, totaling 31 tackles and leading the team with 9.5 tackles for lost yardage, including 2.5 quarterback sacks. Additionally, he was credited with three quarterback hurries and a forced fumble.
“I want to do what I’ve shown I can do and contribute to the team,” Brantley said. “Hopefully, everything works out.
“I just think I can bring an aggressive style of play to this defense, playmaking ability, somewhat of a unique skill set along the D-line. I just want to contribute to the team. I’m trying to win.”