Where will dreams come true for Bryan Bresee?

Jack Gill

The NFL draft is a life changing event for 259 players as they will hear their name announced as they are invited to join an organization that values their talent. Players sign six-figure minimum contracts to play the sport they love professionally.

For Clemson defensive tackle, and Urbana-raised, Bryan Bresee, it could mean a multi-million dollar contract come the end of April, as his projection is to be picked in the middle-late first round, with a possibility of go in the 2nd round.

The first round of the NFL draft this year is held in Kansas City, MO. On Thursday April 27th at 8pm, it begins with the first NFL team ‘going on the clock’ to make their player selection. Each team will have their chance until 31 selections have been made and the first round is complete. The second and third rounds will begin the next day, totaling 102 players selected to that point. Then the remaining picks are selected the following Saturday afternoon. Each player has a projected spot the experts believe they will be selected. 

As an NFL draft prospect, NFL franchises choose to select the players that they find most valuable. For the ones who are not drafted, teams then are able to offer contracts to anyone remaining for the player to choose. This might sound better, but sometimes undrafted players are not offered contracts, and if they are, it is for significantly less money. 

Of course, each professional team has different needs. The team with the first few selections may not need a defensive tackle–they may need a quarterback or a linebacker. But for the teams that do need a talented defensive lineman, that’s when things get interesting. Certain NFL insiders perform rehearsal type scenarios called ‘mock drafts’. These are projections, to predict what each prospect is worth  and where the player may land on draft night.

I have viewed and created a few mock drafts to try to project where Bryan might be headed, and I’ve come up with some possibilities where Bryan could most likely start his NFL career.  To start, one must ask, how would Bryan fit into an NFL teams defense? First let’s start with Bryan’s college defense in Clemson. Head Coach Dabo Swinney ran a 4-3 defense last season. (pictured below)


A quick summary on the 4-3 defense is there are 4 lineman and 3 linebackers. This defense is designed to be more effective in stopping the run as a unit as there are more lineman on the field. Conversely, the weakness of the 4-3 defense is it is more susceptible to being attacked through the air and fails to effectively contain the edge. 

At Clemson, Coach Swinney had Juniors . Myles Murphy(#98) and K.J. Henry(#5 pictured above), on the edges respectively, with Senior Tyler Davis and Bryan on the inside. Swinney had Bryan playing at many positions on the defensive line, but as his career progressed he began to line up as mainly the left-side defensive tackle (LDT). In 2022, Bryan played about ⅔ of his snaps in this position compared to the rest of his time at Clemson. Bryan had his challenges throughout his college career. For example in 2021 he tore his ACL in the 4th game of the season which sidelined him for a long time. This past year Bryan was sidelined for a few games with a kidney infection. Most devastatingly, he lost his sister to cancer this past September. Persevering through these extreme challenges proved he had the commitment to his team and to the game. Many scouts have recognized this in Bryan, see his potential and believe he can be great with the right team in the NFL.

Where I think Bryan can succeed as well, is in a 3-4/5-2 defense. 

A quick summarization of the difference between a 3-4 and 5-2 defense is that unlike the 4-3 defense, the 3-4/5-2 is better at defending the edges and dropping linebackers into short pass coverage. However, the trade off is that stopping the run might be harder. The defense gives up a lineman for an extra interior linebacker, as the interior linebacker has a smaller frame, but more agile to take on an oncoming offensive lineman. The defensive line, now having 3 lineman compared to 4. The difference between a 3-4 defense and a 5-2 defense is fairly simple. The outside linebackers (OLB) change their alignment from being next to the linebackers to at the line of scrimmage with the defensive lineman. At times heavier set people are subbed in for the linebackers as they have more mass to play the position better. It all depends on the situation.

 I think Bryan could succeed here because of his athleticism. At the NFL combine, an athletic showcase where NFL prospects display their physical strengths, Bryan’s athleticism showed. At this event Bryan ran a 4.86 40-yard dash which ranked him 4th among all defensive tackles. At 6 ft 5 inches and 300 pounds, that’s pretty impressive. Respected Houston sports reporter Lance Zierlein compared Bryan to Indianapolis Defensive tackle Grover Stewart. Zierlein described Bryan as:

 “Burly but athletic interior tackle who plays with a strong desire to get past the man in front of him”. Along with mentioning,  “Bresee should continue to progress at his position and become a good run defender with an ability to disrupt the pocket within his first few NFL seasons”. 

I think Bryan would be great fitting into a defensive end role. Here, Bryan has the speed, length and power to play the “B gap”, but also has the size and power to play the inside of the guard. Not every defense folds into this exact mold, the 4-3, or 3-4 are just base defenses where teams and playbooks vary the alignment and assignment for each position.

Based on the main projections the following are five potential landing spots for the Clemson defensive tackle.

(Next to the team name are the draft picks that could possibly be used on Bryan)

Houston Texans (12,33)

The first fit, and probably my favorite fit in terms of developing Bryan to his fullest potential , is the Houston Texans. The Texans hold the 12th pick in the NFL draft. This is believed to be the “ceiling”  for how early Bryan would be selected.  

But why Houston? First of all, the Texans are a rebuilding team. There isn’t as much  talent on the roster currently. Therefore a player like Bryan would quickly earn a starting spot and become a star on their defense. 

The Texans defensive line is relatively old (around 29 years old) and average in talent. The Texans also hired a new head coach this offseason bringing in the San Francisco defensive coordinator and former Texans linebacker Demeco Ryans. Ryans brings a hard-nosed enthusiastic environment to Houston, and why wouldn’t he want to revamp the front seven with a high potential defensive prospect like Bryan? Ryans would be perfect for Bryan to learn from.

Ryans led a San Francisco defense last season and was the linebackers coach from 2018-2021 where he was able develop linebackers Fred Warner, Azeez Al-Shahir and Dre Greenlaw into arguably the best linebacking core in the league. Ryans also led a defensive line which included Nick Bosa, Arik Armstead and numerous others who shined in that system. Like Clemson, Ryans also runs a 4-3 defense. Bryan was mainly a 2 or 2i (inside, or head up on the offensive guard) technique tackle at Clemson which would translate to Houston beautifully. 

The only drawback about this fit is that the Texans front seven was pretty abysmal in stopping the run. Houston on average allowed 170.2 rushing yards per game last season which put them at the worst in the league at that metric. Bryan was not particularly great in stopping the run through his college career so the Texans might not value taking him in the first round. If not, maybe the Texans take a chance on Bryan at the top of the 2nd round if he manages to fall that far.

Detroit Lions (18,48,55)

The Lions hold the 6th and the 18th pick in the NFL draft. Last season the Lions selected Michigan defensive end Aidan Hutchinson (#97). While the Lions in my personal opinion are more of a longshot I would love to see someone like Bryan under defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn and more importantly, the kneecap biter himself, Dan Campbell. These physical and hard-nosed personalities were seen by the public on HBO’s 2022 “Hard Knocks”. More than likely if the Lions were to take a chance on Bryan, he would play a 3-technique tackle in a 5-2 defense for the Lions which I believe would translate pretty well. 

Like the Texans, the Lions were also poor at defending the run, ranking as the 4th worst run defense giving up an average 146.5 yards per game including allowing 320 rushing yards in one game against the Carolina Panthers. The Lions interior defensive line was below average last season with players such as Alim McNeil, Isaiah Buggs, and John Cominsky. 

However, where Bryan fits in with the Lions is Bryan’s potential bag. Bryan has the frame of an interior lineman 2i-2 technique with the athleticism of an edge. Playing a 3 technique for the Lions’ defense could open up a world of possibilities for them. If the Lions were to pull the trigger on Bresee it would more than likely be the 18th pick where they would move Alim McNeil to the nose tackle to replace Buggs who simply was not good enough last season. A line with Hutchinson, Bresee, McNeil, and breakout edge rusher from last season, James Houston is a promising core for Detroit.

Los Angeles Chargers (21,54)

The Los Angeles Chargers are a promising team who just has one glaring need in order to get over the hump, which was their relatively weak run defense. The Chargers are a bit different than these other teams. They have two amazing edge rushers in Joey Bosa and Khalil Mack but the rest of their front seven is below average. Former 2020 first-round Linebacker Kenneth Murray hasn’t played to expectations as he was quite bad this past season. Defensive lineman Sebastian Joseph-Day, Austin Johnson and Morgan Fox were also below average for the Chargers. 

Overall, they have no legitimate inside run defense. This is a team that might have the best odds at drafting Bryan Bresee. The Chargers hold the 21st overall pick this year and the belief is they either draft Texas running back Bijan Robinson, a dynamic receiver or a defensive lineman such as Bresee. Since, the receivers in this year’s draft class are not worth a first round selection, it is questionable whether Bijan Robinson will be available at that point. There is also growing popularity in the Chargers drafting an offensive tackle. Any of these are possibilities, but playing alongside Joey Bosa and Khalil Mack wouldn’t be a bad situation.

Seattle Seahawks (20,37,52)

Just like the Detroit Lions and the Los Angeles Chargers, the Seattle Seahawks could use a player like Bryan Bresee. Outside of Uchenna Nwosu who was a solid addition to their team last season, the Seahawks could use some help. 

Over the offseason so far they’ve brought back their legendary linebacker Bobby Wagner and they signed Broncos’ defensive tackle Dre’Mont Jones for $51.3 Million/3 years. With these additions, it’s obvious  they are focused on  adding depth in the draft. As a result of the Russell Wilson trade last season, the Seahawks acquired a first and second round pick in the draft. They currently hold picks 5, 20, 37 and 52. Bryan likely won’t be selected at number 5 overall but depending on what the Seahawks do with that 5th pick, could determine whether they target a defensive tackle like Bryan with their later picks. Like the others, the Seahawks would place Bryan in their 3-4 scheme at the defensive end position, at a 3 or 2 technique position.

Minnesota Vikings (23)

The Minnesota Vikings are another prime landing spot for Bryan. The Vikings hold the 23rd pick in the draft this year and defensive tackle is a key position they need to fill. 

Last season the Vikings ranked 11th in rushing yards allowed, allowing 124 per game. The run defense wasn’t bad but it wasn’t good either. They lost their Nose Tackle Dalvin Tomlinson to the Cleveland Browns, who was an above average anchor to the front seven. There is another rotational defensive tackle Khyiris Tonga who filled the role well last season, but there is little depth outside of him. 

This is where the Vikings might decide that Bryan is a great fit for them, as their pick value is about the same as Bryan’s draft value. The Vikings have other glaring needs to address outside of defensive tackle such as cornerback or linebacker but there is a chance that the new defensive coordinator Brian Flores likes the potential he sees in Bryan. 

Flores was the head coach for the Miami Dolphins from 2019 to 2021. Flores tends to like to play press man coverage which might lead him to want to draft one of the top cornerback prospects to fill the weak spot in Minnesota. But in Flores’ first year with the Dolphins, they decided to draft former Clemson Defensive lineman Christian Wilkins who was and still is a star for that defense. Bryan and Christian both share similar measurables. Both players are considered to be ‘athletic defensive tackles/ends’. Bryan is 6 foot 5 and 298 pounds compared to Wilkins being 6 foot 4 and 310 pounds. Plus Bryan ran a 4.86 40 yard dash compared to Wilkins’ 5.04 time. Their play styles are also similar as both are solid run defenders but their strengths lie in rushing the passer with pure power and athleticism. Flores might find the significance of building the same front seven as well and decide to pull the trigger on Bryan. 


Besides those above, other interesting spots Bryan could end up include: 

-Jacksonville Jaguars (24,56)

-Dallas Cowboys (26,58)

-New Orleans Saints (29,40)

-Carolina Panthers (39)

Thousands of these “mock drafts” are performed leading up to the big night but never will there be a draft where each pick correctly projects the draft. This is because of 2 main reasons. 

First of all, each pick affects every pick after it. For example, if a prospect is projected to be selected by a certain team, let’s say at the 10th pick for example, but a team with an earlier pick that’s that player it sets off a chain reaction changes constantly.

 These projections are not 100% correct. They are only predictions based on information available and a bit of educated guessing. It only takes one team’s unknown opinion on a player to completely change everything.

The uncertainty of the draft and an amazing amount of excitement for players and fans keeps people guessing and on the edge of their seats. For Bryan Bresee, no matter how things fall, at the end of the day, there will be an NFL team who values Bryan’s skill and talent in being an important part of their success.