It was no major surprise to NFL teams that a battery complaint against Cleveland Browns rookie defensive tackle Caleb Brantley was dismissed Wednesday for insufficient evidence.
Some teams couldn’t afford to draft a player with a serious allegation hanging over his head. Others weren’t going to touch Brantley last month regardless, for a variety of reasons, before the Browns took a chance on him in the sixth round – and almost immediately announced they might rescind his rights depending on what became of the legal case.
Among the concerns, according to several NFL scouts who spoke with USA TODAY Sports on condition of anonymity for competitive reasons during Brantley’s draft slide:
- At 6-foot-3, 307 pounds, Brantley profiles as an undersized nose tackle – a position that isn’t exactly in demand in the NFL. He’s not a big anchor, and he didn’t test well at the scouting combine, casting doubt (along with his limited pass-rush production at the University of Florida) about his upside as a three-technique.
- For some reason, Brantley didn’t try to improve any of those poor testing numbers at Florida’s pro day workout. One scout said Brantley appeared out of shape as he went through position drills.
- There already were questions about Brantley’s maturity and work ethic, as well as whether a team can trust him. The mere existence of allegation – dubious as some thought it was – just reinforced some teams' thoughts that Brantley wasn’t worth the trouble.
None of which is to say the Browns won’t end up with a steal. Every year there are players who some teams take off the board for character reasons or otherwise and they end up succeeding elsewhere. That’s part of the challenge of evaluating college players – projection entails more than on-field traits. If not for the allegation, Brantley might’ve been drafted as early as Day 2.
Certainly, Wednesday’s dismissal takes some of the edge off the Browns’ decision to draft Brantley at all. Time will tell what, if anything, they get out of it.