RSP Sample: Steelers WR Martavis Bryant

Get the RSP pre-draft sample evaluation on Martavis Bryant, who has three touchdowns in two games since the Steelers made him an active contributor in the offense.

Once in a while, I’ll provide sample excerpts of my pre-draft/post-draft evaluations and advice. Bryant’s mid-season emergence coincides with the RSP’s take from April and May.  The Clemson receiver is a natural fit as the perimeter big-play threat for Ben Roethlisberger, who hasn’t had a consistent tall, athletic option during his NFL career.

The following excerpt about Bryant is an entry from my positional rankings profiles from the 2014 RSP available every April 1.  If you want to see the 12 pages of play-by-play notes and the grade checklist I I have on Bryant, download it as a .PDF by clicking this link: Martavis Bryant Sample Checklist.

The post-draft excerpt is from the RSP Post-Draft that is part of the RSP purchase and available one week after the NFL Draft.  Learn more about the RSP by taking the video tour or read why fantasy owners, fantasy writers, and football writers buy it every year.

Martavis Bryant, Clemson (6-3, 211)

I believe Bryant is what Jets fans hoped they’d get when the team drafted Stephen Hill. The Clemson receiver is a big-play artist with potential to develop into an every-down threat. Bryant plays to his height and speed. He attacks the football at its highest point and has the fluid athleticism to shield his opponent while airborne and keep the play in bounds.

There’s a rebounder’s mentality to Bryant’s game and he possesses the concentration to win the target with a good second effort on tipped passes. He does have a tendency to extend his arms too early on vertical routes and this tips off opponents before the ball arrives. There are also plays were Bryant’s hand position needs to be better. Although he had a tough start to his 2013 season against Georgia where he dropped multiple passes, Bryant has good concentration and his pass receiving was dramatically better as the season progressed.

Bryant beats defenders on deep routes up the seam and tracks the ball over his head. Earlier in his career, he had a tendency to trap passes arriving over his shoulder. This tendency waned over time. He makes these plays after contact and if there is no contact during the act of catching a vertical route, he’ll pull away from the secondary. On perimeter routes, he does a good job owning the horizontal space and avoids getting pinned to the sideline.

He can get on top of a defender fast and will reduce the shoulder to avoid a defender’s contact. He shows some suddenness with turns on routes breaking to the quarterback, but he still has to work on making that one hard step to stop his momentum and execute a pro-style break.

Bryant didn’t run a lot of timing routes in this offensive scheme so he has little experience and has to improve how he stems routes of all types. He’ll set up a direction of a break with a bend in the opposite direction during his stem, but he has shown more intensity of pace at the top of the stem so the fake and the pace of the route forces the corner to overreact. Bryant has the burst to do it, but he has to work on it.

As a ballcarrier, I like that Bryan carries the ball high and tight with either arm. As a blocker he makes the effort to square an opponent and throw his hands with good placement, but he has to learn to punch with power. The fact that Bryant makes the effort to move his feet after contact to stay with a man is encouraging. He has to display more consistency here.

Some of my colleagues compare Bryant to a less talented Justin Hunter. There are certainly similarities to the two players—questionable effort is one of them. In fact, Bryant was suspended in December 2013 for the Chick-fil-A Bowl because of his flagging work ethic. However, Bryant has shown more maturity and dedicated himself to school and practice and earned praise from the team for his maturation.

On the field, what I like about Bryant over Hunter is his skill against physical coverage. Hunter has upside as an athlete, but not so much more that he’s a lock to be a better receiver than Bryant. If Bryant works at his game, he could be as good as any receiver in this class. He displays enough promise that the extra steps will get him there. The question is whether he’ll continue his maturation.

Pre-NFL Draft Fantasy Advice: My guess is that Bryant will be a second round pick in drafts before May. If someone wants to trade into the later half of the first round to grab Bryant, I’d consider making the deal. If Bryant falls to the late second or third round, I wouldn’t hesitate to grab him.

Post-NFL Draft Fantasy Advice (Ranked No.7 WR and 10th fantasy player overall):  Bryant was considered a project by many because he’s young and had to learn the hard way about applying himself. However, he can make contested catches, he adjusts well to the ball, and has good speed. The Steelers see him as a potential starter—this year—opposite Antonio Brown. Markus Wheaton is a fine player, but Bryant will push the second-year receiver for playing time. I don’t think Bryant will earn the starting job this year, but he’ll make strides.

This is a promising fit for Bryant.  I’m a big fan of Wheaton, but if Bryant plays to his potential then size wins out. Of course, Bryant and Wheaton could eventually be good enough to play outside and move Brown inside with Lance Moore as depth. There will be a lot of three-receiver sets due to the Steelers’ penchant for a one-back offense, so Bryant has a nice opportunity to develop.

Sample Play-by-Play Reports on Bryant

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