Much has been made of the lack of immediate impact by some of the rookies the Cleveland Browns drafted this year. Barkevious Mingo has been the only one who has really been a regular player and while he has a long way to go, he shows incredible ability and potential. The only other rookie who has made much of an impact has been Armonty Bryant in a few games this season. The rest of the class is either injured or put under glass for a year while they develop. The seventh round pick fell due to a list of character concerns that included drug arrests and those concerns were confirmed shortly after he was drafted, when he was arrested for driving under the influence. Bryant pleaded for a second chance, saying that he would not make another misstep and ruin this opportunity and the Browns kept him on the roster. While it remains to be seen if he will stay out of trouble, he has been able to help the Browns in a few spots and has record two sacks and should have had a third today.
The reason Bryant did not go undrafted was because even though he was playing at a tiny college in East Central Oklahoma after being kicked out of other places, his athletic ability and natural instincts for the game were impressive. He had a big body and tremendous quickness for being a natural pass rusher. He dominated against lower level competition and a was a man amongst boys on the field. Not all of his moves he was using would have worked in the NFL and he could get away with some moves because of how much bigger and stronger he was relative to the competition, but the raw ability was obvious.
As a result, when the Browns drafted him, he gave them a developmental player that could give them a defensive lineman that could come in and rush the passer in spots. The issue that held Bryant back was the fact that the Browns had 7 defensive linemen that could contribute, so he had to work to earn his reps and possibly require an injury to get on the field.
Billy Winn had to miss a number of weeks due to a quad strain and Bryant had some opportunity to get some run and make some plays. His first shot was in the game against the Buffalo Bills in a Thursday night game. That was the game where he notched the first sack of his career against Bills quarterback Jeff Tuel.
Today, Bryant had another opportunity to contribute even with the defensive line back and full strength. The Browns gave him reps when they were in passing situations. Bryant was able to get the second sack of this season and his career. He would have had a third if not for a holding penalty against T.J. Ward down the field. Ward was caught in an awkward position and ended up clamping onto the receiver so they could get behind him with any separation. Bryant notched the sack on tape, but it resulted in a 5-yard penalty and an automatic first down for the Ravens.
The potential use for Bryant in the Browns defense is obvious. When they can get opponents into obvious passing situations, he can go in and get a quick push up the middle. Bryant is a little too in love with his swim move and needs to work on adding more to his repertoire, but he has been able to get pressure and make plays.
Additionally, he has the potential to continue to develop and get even better. His physical ability is impressive and he looks to have the ability to continue to add strength. If he can do that and continue to work on his technique, he can have some tremendous long term upside. The question with Bryant is with all of that talent, like with Josh Gordon, can he stay out of trouble and be available to help the team on the field.