After suffering a broken ankle at the end of September, the loss of Christian Bryant to the Ohio State secondary had lasting effects.
Second on the Ohio State team in tackles in 2012, with 70, Bryant entered 2013 on the Jim Thorpe Award watch list, the annual award given to the nation's top defensive back. One of the more underrated defensive backs in the Big Ten, Bryant transitioned from between the two safety roles smoothly upon Urban Meyer's arrival at Ohio State. A leader in the secondary, Bryant's impact on and off the field was greatly missed for the remainder of last season.
"That darn kid has done so much for our program, come so far," Meyer said following Bryant's injury vs. Wisconsin on Sept. 28. "Incredible leadership skills. And he's going to be even more valuable outside of football. I love that guy."
Although undersized at 5'9 and 208 pounds, Bryant brings great toughness, grit and valuable intangibles to the defensive backfield. Let's take a look at some of Bryant's strengths and weaknesses and where he will fit in on an NFL team.
- Run support: Bryant looks to be used as a run support safety operating primarily out of the box at the next level. One of the hardest hitters on the Ohio State defense the last few years, Bryant hopes to bring that same level of intensity to whichever NFL team he lands on.
- Tackling. As mentioned above, Bryant is an excellent tackler, and an especially hard hitter. Graduating from the same high school as Cleveland Browns safety Donte Whitner, Bryant is another hard-hitting Glenville Tarblooder.
- Leadership. Expressed in Meyer's comments above, Bryant is an excellent leader whose teammates speak very highly of. In an era where character issues can draw huge red flags on potential NFL prospects, there isn't much to worry about with Bryant in this area.
- Size. At only 5'9, Bryant is likely to struggle in deep coverage in the NFL. With lengthy wide receivers such as Larry Fitzgerald, Calvin Johnson, Andre Johnson, etc., known for burning defenses deep, Bryant's size will be a detriment when defending the deep ball.
Where does Bryant fit in on an NFL team?
As a player that looks to either go in the final two rounds, or be a primary free agent following the draft, Bryant will most likely have to be an excellent special teams player to make it in the NFL.
Former Buckeye and current Minnesota Vikings safety Kurt Coleman was picked up in the seventh round of the 2010 NFL Draft, Bryant finds himself in a similar position. Coleman made his mark by being an opportunistic player, making big plays on the ball in his time with the Philadelphia Eagles.
Bryant will have to fight to make a roster but the Cleveland native is more than capable of taking advantage of each opportunity thrown his way becoming the next former Buckeye to make it in the National Football League in the process.
Check out some of Bryant's top highlights over the last few seasons: