The Cleveland Browns took a chance and selected Florida defensive tackle Caleb Brantley with the first pick of the sixth found of the National Football League Draft on Saturday but this is a pick that’s all about the money.
Soon after they made the selection, the Browns announced they are continuing to investigate the misdemeanor battery charges filed against Brantley by a woman who claims she was knocked unconscious and suffered dental injuries in an altercation at a bar earlier in April. A Browns spokesman said that it’s up to Brantley to keep his nose clean moving forward and that “facts may turn up that prevent us from being able to keep him on our roster.”
Translation: If he makes it, we only have to pay him sixth round money. If he’s guilty we can say at least we gave him a chance. Prior to this incident, Brantley was considered a marginal first rounder but almost certainly a second round talent. The sworn complaint in Alachua County Court cost Brantley at least a couple million dollars.
It’s rather interesting that Brantley’s attorney, Huntley Johnson, declined a settlement offer by the woman. Johnson is the master of the plea agreement and the early settlement. For him to turn it down typically means he has evidence that strongly supports his client. Johnson does claim to have video showing the woman leaving the bar after the incident and the bar manager and a security person from the bar have both stated that Brantley never struck the woman as she claimed in her sworn complaint but instead pushed her back when she attacked and hit him in the face.
I haven’t seen the evidence in this case, but I’ve known Huntley Johnson since the 1970s. If, as he says, Brantley is innocent as Huntley says then this woman better lawyer up in a hurry because there will be retribution. They say that hell has no fury like a scored woman. While that might be true, the person who made that statement never met Huntley Johnson.
Other Gator draftees:
As expected, Jarrad Davis went in the first round. The Detroit Lions, who are in desperate need for linebackers, chose him with the 21st pick where he is expected to be an instant starter either in the middle or on the weakside in their 4-3 alignment. The Lions love the fact that Davis is a high character guy who has never been in trouble and that he doesn’t have to go to the sideline in passing situations.
The Lions also drafted Jalen Tabor in the second round. A lot of experts had Tabor dropping into the third or fourth round because of his slow 40 times at the combine and pro day and his weak tackling skills. The Lions have veteran corners already so Tabor won’t have to start from day one. In year one, he’ll probably be on the field almost exclusively in passing situations where the Lions are counting on his ability to play the ball and create turnovers.
The New York Jets followed up their draft of LSU safety Jamal Adams in the first round by selecting Florida safety Marcus Maye in the second. The Jets got poor play from their safeties last year as Calvin Pryor and Marcus Gilchrist were regularly burned and combined for only two interceptions and nine passes defended the entire season. Gilchrist is recovering from knee surgery and will begin 2017 on the physically unable to perform list. Adams and Maye both have good cover skills and both will be expected to be on the field from day one.
Corner Quincy Wilson was taken in the second round by the Indianapolis Colts, where he is expected to take over from Rashaan Melvin, in his fifth season and still looking for his first NFL interception. What the Colts like about Wilson is that he’s big enough (nearly 6-2 and 211 pounds) and fast enough to hang with the bigger receivers in the league and he’s a strong tackler who isn’t afraid to blow up blockers.
If he can stay healthy, then Alex Anzalone might be one of the biggest bargains in the draft. Taken in the third round by the New Orleans Saints, Anzalone is an upgrade in speed to outside linebackers Nathan Stupar and Dannell Ellerbe. This will be the 10th season for Ellerbe, whose career is on the downside. Anzalone won’t have to start from day one, but if he’s healthy (shoulder surgeries and a broken forearm), he’s far more disruptive than any of the Saints outside linebackers so he should be on the field a lot.
The question with David Sharpe, selected in the fourth round by the Oakland Raiders, is will he move inside or will the Raiders groom him to play on the outside where left tackle Donald Penn is a 12-year veteran and right tackle Marshall Newhouse is an 8-year vet? As tackles go, they’re getting long in the tooth. The Raiders like their O-linemen huge so Sharpe fits that bill perfectly (6-6, 343). He won’t have to start immediately, so the Raiders will be able to find a place where he fits and he can back up both at tackle and guard.
Joey Ivie, selected by the Dallas Cowboys in the seventh round, was taken to back up Stephen Paea at nose tackle. Paea is an excellent run stopper and that’s where Ivie excels. Ivie isn’t an elite pass rusher, but in the Cowboys’ scheme, the nose tackle’s job is to clog up the middle. Ivie can do that.
Free agent Gators
Of the four Gators who signed free agent contracts, Bryan Cox Jr. probably will be playing in the NFL next year. Signed by the Carolina Panthers, Cox has the speed and strength to play defensive end or outside linebacker. DE Charles Johnson is an 11th-year guy and weakside linebacker Thomas Davis is in his 13th year. If he can make the team, Cox will also give the Panthers cap room as an undrafted free agent making NFL minimum.
Also signed as free agents were wide receiver Ahmad Fulwood (Saints), running back Mark Herndon (Browns) and wide receiver Chris Thompson (Texans). If any of those three make it to an NFL roster it will be because of special teams abilities.
UF SOFTBALL WINS SEC CHAMPIONSHIP
Although the Gators (46-4, 20-3 SEC) saw their shutout streak end at five straight games when they dropped the final game of their weekend series with 8th-ranked Tennessee (42-8, 14-6 SEC), 5-1, it was an extraordinary weekend for Tim Walton’s #1-ranked crew. By taking two out of three from the Vols and Texas A&M dropping two in a row to Kentucky, the Gators captured their third straight Southeastern Conference championship.
Florida has completed the SEC portion of its schedule. The Gators will face FSU in Tallahassee in a midweek game and then play host to North Texas next weekend while the rest of the league finishes out SEC play. Florida will be the #1 seed in the SEC which will begin May 10 in Knoxville.
Friday night, Kelly Barnhill probably cemented the SEC Player of the Year Award with a 2-hit, 12-strikeout performance to improve her record to 21-0 with a 0.16 ERA. Delanie Gourley (15-3) followed that up with a 3-hitter on Saturday. Kayli Kvistad hit two home runs on Friday and belted a 2-run double Saturday as the Gators took out the Vols, 9-0.
BROOM TIME IN ATHENS
In scoring a weekend sweep of Georgia (17-28, 5-16 SEC) in Athens, the Gators (30-13, 13-8 SEC) pulled within a game of SEC East leader Kentucky (31-14, 14-7 SEC). The Gators are the hottest team in the SEC with 10 wins in their last 12 games including the last four in a row.
The Gators rallied for three runs in the top of the ninth to win the Friday game, 6-4, scored five in the top of the seventh for a come from behind 6-3 win on Saturday and then held off a Georgia rally in the bottom of the eighth to finish off the Bulldogs, 4-3, on Sunday.
Michael Byrne continued his work out of the bullpen, coming on to get the save (11 on the season) in all three games. Freshman Garrett Milchin got the win in relief Friday, while Brady Singer went eight innings Saturday. Jackson Howar went a career high seven innings for the win on Sunday.
Hitting star of the weekend was JJ Schwarz, who went 5-11 with three RBI. He hit a two-run homer in the second inning Sunday to stake UF to a 2-0 lead. Nelson Maldonado had a 4-7 weekend.
Florida plays midweek games at McKethan Stadium against FAMU on Tuesday and Jacksonville on Wednesday. Ole Miss (27-17, 11-10 SEC) comes to Gainesville for an SEC series next weekend.
FLORIDA LACROSSE TAKES BIG EAST TITLE
The 2nd-ranked Gators (15-2, 9-0 Big East) won their third consecutive Big East Conference championship and their seventh straight conference title overall Saturday with a resounding, 15-3, win over Georgetown. The Gators went on an 11-0 run to break open a tight, 2-2, battle to finish the Big East regular season unbeaten.
Florida goes to Philadelphia next weekend as the #1 seed in the Big East Tournament. UF will face #4 seed Temple in the Friday in the semifinals.
SOME DRAFT THOUGHTS
The New England Patriots only had four draft choices, but because Bill Belichick is smarter than everybody else in the NFL, he still had the best draft day. That’s because he traded or surrendered draft picks to land wide receiver Brandin Cooks, defense end Kony Ealy, tight end Dwayne Allen and running back Mike Gillislee. That’s a pretty good deal. A few later round draft picks for proven talent.
Was there anything more bizarre than the Chicago Bears trading up to #2 for Mitch Trubisky? He would have been there without the trade.
The Carolina Panthers gave Cam Newton some speed to work with in drafting running back Christian McCaffrey in the first round and Ohio State do-it-all Curtis Samuel in the second.
Tom Coughlin’s formula for winning football always starts with a power running game. Now that he’s got Leonard Fournette let’s see what he does about that Jacksonville offensive line, which does a great imitation of a sieve.
Dallas may have landed one of the steals in the draft when it picked up North Carolina wide receiver Ryan Switzer, who ran back seven punts for TDs in his college career. Switzer gives the Cowboys an instant special teams upgrade, plus he can catch the ball out of the slot.
Speaking of steals, even with the injuries and the character flags, Denver might have come up with its quarterback of the future in Chad Kelly of Ole Miss, who is this year’s Mr. Irrelevant (last player taken in the draft). He beat Alabama two straight years and darn near made it three in a row this year.
I thought the Arizona Cardinals screwed up by not taking a quarterback. Carson Palmer is 37 years old. Josh Dobbs, Nathan Peterman and Brad Kaaya were all available in the fourth round and none of them has to start right away.
Since I’m on the subject of quarterbacks, I’m miffed that the San Francisco 49ers took C.J. Beathard of Iowa.
Back on April 30, 1993, Monica Seles was stabled in the back while playing at a tennis tournament in Germany. She was 19 years old and had reached the finals of 33 of her last 34 tournaments. With eight grand slam titles, it was conceivable that she might break what was then the grand slam record of 24 titles held by Margaret Court. Seles was fortunate that the 9-inch knife used by a crazed German fan obsessed with Steffi Graf missed her spinal cord and major organs. Seles won one more grand slam event after her recovery, but she was clearly never the same player again. When I saw Sunday that it was the anniversary of this tragedy, I was sad for Seles but at the same time thankful that some crazy fan or terrorist hasn’t tried to kill another athlete during an event in the time since.
The NCAA softball and baseball tournaments are probably going to have a very distinctive SEC look about them. Nine SEC teams should get selected for the NCAA softball tournament and it wouldn’t be surprising to see 10 SEC teams in the baseball field.
I think I lasted one full quarter of the Clippers-Jazz NBA game. I wouldn’t have watched that much if it weren’t for Hubie Brown doing the analysis. Hubie and Doris Burks are the two best analysts in the ABC/ESPN stable.
Jonathan Giles, a Biletnikoff semifinalist, will transfer from Texas Tech after a year in which he caught 69 passes for 1,158 yards and 13 touchdowns. He will have to sit a year but will have two seasons of eligibility. LSU could be a landing spot.
There was a big scare at Arkansas over the weekend when running back Rawleigh Williams III fell to the ground and just laid there after taking what is being described as a light hit. Early indications are that Williams will be okay, but this is the same guy who suffered a broken neck in 2015. Last year he ran for 1,360 yards and score 12 touchdowns for the Razorbacks.
QUESTION OF THE DAY
Of all the Gators who were drafted, which one do you think will have the most successful career in the NFL?
MUSIC FOR TODAY
If you were a teenage male growing up in the 1960s then there is every good chance you had a crush on Dusty Springfield. She probably sold more records than any solo female artist. I got hooked on her when I heard her sing “You Don’t Own Me.” I heard that again on the radio today, so I’m passing it along as part of her first album, “A Girl Called Dusty.”