Draft Profile: WR Bryant stepping out of Watkins' shadow


Clemson WR Martavis Bryant was seen as the 'other' pass catcher from Clemson for much of the 2013 season, by fans and opponents alike. With Sammy Watkins getting much of the attention from defensive coordinators, Bryant was often left in one-on-one matchups.

"It was great because Sammy opened up opportunities for me to get the ball in certain situations during the game," Bryant said.

After he decided to enter the NFL Draft and forgo his senior year at Clemson, the 6'4" receiver needed to prove that he was a legitimate prospect in his own right, and didn't simply benefit from having Watkins on the other side of the field and Tajh Boyd throwing him passes.

He has already shown flashes of brilliance over his three years at Clemson. In the 2014 Orange Bowl against Ohio State he had three receptions, including two for touchdowns. Those touchdowns were both on well-defended short-yardage fade routes, a way in which NFL teams will be looking to use him in the years to come.

Still, Bryant knew he had aspects of his game to work on before the NFL Combine in February and Clemson's Pro Day in March. So this offseason, he has been working with NFL Hall of Fame WR Cris Carter in Boca Raton, Florida.

One of the knocks on Bryant is his inconsistency with route running, especially on crossing routes. For such a big receiver, he was not always as physical as he needed to be and sometimes struggled to get open underneath. Carter, known for being one of the best route runners in NFL history, certainly has plenty to offer Bryant in that area of his game. 

"He taught me a lot of things," Bryant said in reference to the Hall of Famer. "Coming out of my routes I tend to pop up a little bit, but I've been working on that a little. I should be fine."

Bryant's unique combination of size and speed may be too great for some teams to pass up. He ran a 4.42 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine, along with a 39-inch vertical leap and has 33-inch arms. One of the most important things a scout looks for in a wideout is catch radius, or how big of an area a receiver can cover in order to catch a pass. A larger catch radius means more room for error in a quarterback's passes. Bryant has all of the raw tools to be an elite prospect in this area.

"Bryant reminds me a lot of [Bengals WR A.J.] Green coming out of Georgia," ESPN NFL Draft analyst Todd McShay said. "He adjusts well to the ball, I just think he never was a great fit in that Clemson offense where a lot of stuff is horizontal. If he can get with a big, strong-arm quarterback who can get him the ball down the field, watch out for Bryant as a third, fourth round pick as a steal in this class."

Some scouts thought that with an extra year at Clemson to polish some of his flaws, Bryant could have been a top-15 pick in the 2015 draft, especially with another year under Clemson WR coach Jeff Scott, who is widely regarded as of the best position coaches in college football. But Bryant thinks he is ready for the NFL right now. 

"It really had to be a decision between me and my mom and my grandma," Bryant said of his decision to turn pro. "It has been a lifelong dream. I never thought I'd be here, but I'm here."

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