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NAME: Coby Bryant
WEIGHT: 193 pounds
A native of Cleveland, Ohio, Coby Bryant attended Glenville High School. His brother, Christian Bryant was a defensive back at Ohio State and later played in the NFL for the then St. Louis Rams and Arizona Cardinals, as well as with the Birmingham Iron during the short stint of the AAF. Coby played both cornerback and safety throughout his high school career.
In his junior season, he totaled 50 tackles, five pass breakups and one interception. Bryant was named as a Senate League All-Star as a senior in 2016. During that same senior campaign, he received an honorable mention for 2016 Associated Press All-Northeast Lakes District Division II. Scout.com rated Bryant as a three-star recruit coming out of high school. That same website also ranked him as a top three cornerback in his class for the state of Ohio.
After joining the Cincinnati Bearcats, Bryant appeared in all 12 games as a true freshman in 2017. He tallied four tackles while playing both defense and special teams.
In 2018, the sophomore played in 13 games, while making 12 starts at cornerback. Bryant actually played with a cast on his hand throughout most of that campaign. This was due to a small fracture that he suffered in a game against UConn in September of that year. Yet, Bryant was still able to provide 33 tackles (30 solo), 11 passes defended (a team best for that year), two interceptions and a forced fumble.
As a junior in 2019, he saw a tremendous uptick in production while starting in all 14 games at cornerback. Bryant finished fifth on the team in tackles (54). He also added eight pass breakups, 2.5 tackles for loss, two quarterback hurries, one interception and returned a blocked PAT kick for a defensive two-point conversion. Additionally, the defender was named to the AAC All-Academic Team for 2019.
Best Of The Best
Despite a strong first few seasons, Bryant and the Bearcats program truly began to take off in 2020. There was of course the COVID-19 pandemic that limited the season. However, Bryant was at or near the top of most team or AAC conference categories. His 11 passes defended led the conference and his four interceptions were the highest on the Cincinnati defense. Meanwhile, Bryant added 35 tackles, seven pass breakups, one tackle for loss and one forced fumble. He was named first-team All-AAC for 2020.
From a team standpoint, Cincy was continuing to turn heads. They finished in the top 15 in five different categories among all NCAA defenses that season. This included ranking third in both interceptions and defensive passing efficiency as a team. To boot, Cincinnati led the AAC in passes defended (55) and interceptions (16) for 2020. Bryant was able to make 10 starts as a part of that.
Even though he had already earned his undergraduate degree in 2020, Bryant elected to return in 2021, taking advantage of his extra year of eligibility. He produced 46 tackles, 11 pass breakups (team best, third best in AAC), three interceptions, three forced fumbles and one tackle for loss. Bryant joined rarefied air in his final season as well. He won the Jim Thorpe Award, which is given to the nation’s top defensive back. That made Bryant just the second player from a non-Power Five school to do so (Greg Myers from Colorado State was the first in 1995). For the second straight season, he was also named first-team All-AAC.
Cincinnati’s defense was again one of the elite in the NCAA. They finished in the top four in defensive passing efficiency as a team, passing yards allowed, interceptions and opponent completion percentage. From a team perspective, Cincinnati also reached new heights across the college football landscape. Cincinnati won their conference title game at home against Houston to move their record to 13-0. The Bearcats also secured two early season road victories in back to back weeks over Indiana and Notre Dame. This helped their case in what would lead to Cincinnati becoming the first Group of Five school to make the current iteration of the College Football Playoff. Cincinnati lost to Alabama in the semifinals 27-6, ending their season. Afterwards, Bryant participated at the 2022 Reese’s Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama.
Instead of listing positives and negatives for traits, this year we will be listing the best trait of each prospect and work our way down to the biggest area of improvement/absent trait(s), from top to bottom.
This is by far where Bryant makes his most money. He picks up on different tendencies very early during plays. When watching quarterbacks, he is quick to break into a certain throwing window. Bryant can simply be directly in the throwing path before the passer has possibly even fully released the ball. He has great eye discipline for certain things like shoulder shakes or pump fakes from quarterbacks.
When watching opposing receivers, he stays locked in on watching their chest and feet. Bryant rarely bites on fakes or double moves much. But if he does, the defensive back takes noticeably sharp tracks and angles to try and get back underneath the pass catcher. Bryant can also recover with sneaky long strides. Furthermore, he presents subtle jabs within his hand technique. Bryant has a great understanding of knowing when to flip his hips and open up his frame to receivers, depending on where the opponent is at within their route.
In man coverage, Bryant can certainly thrive in press coverage. Though, it is not in the way that many are used to seeing in those moments. He uses a patient and controlled style to stay out on his toes, so to speak. Instead of playing physical, Bryant will utilize a more quiet, smooth mirroring technique. This is exemplified with his footwork. Bryant is not your typical rapid fire defender with swift and plentiful steps during his backpedal.
In off-man coverage, this defensive back is ultra-confident with using a chest-to-chest technique. This allows Bryant to enforce a crafty sense of power and also helps him throw receivers off-balance. He is also extremely fluid and loose when it comes to his backpedal, footwork and hips.
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Finally, we have Bryant’s zone coverage abilities. He has a vast knowledge of how much cushion is adequate when giving receivers a free release. At the same time, Bryant remains relaxed and does not bite too early against routes, while also maintaining solid leverage. He has a click and close ability that is very efficient. It can also suffocate opposing pass catchers, to say the least. Once again, this defender receives so much of his success because of his ability to identify keys and tendencies. Bryant can also combine that with precise body positioning.
There are many items that Bryant possesses in this area. In all honesty, it makes you wonder if he should actually be a wide receiver on offense. He constantly displays a knack for getting his frame square to the football at the catch point. Oftentimes, that can be taken for granted, so to speak. Bryant appears to always be crisp and pinpoint when it comes to the timing of getting his hands and arms extended at the catch point. Additionally, there is a sort of soft and natural feeling to his hands that not all defensive backs own.
Bryant has a tremendous feel for locating, tracking and attacking the football. This proves to be one of the more emphatic parts of his game. Simply, Bryant has the keen ability of being able to slice his arms in between opponents’ hands at the precise moment of the ball reaching their grasp. That is something that appears to still catch receivers off guard.
Overall, Bryant may seem more patient in his game. There is still a firmness or roughness that he can impose, nonetheless. He still remains under control when going that route too. More importantly, there is an any means necessary type of mentality to his game against the pass. This is basically meaning that Bryant may not always be able to go after the football. Yet, he is still focused on frustrating the receiver in any way possible. Coaches should enjoy his capability of showing a short-term memory on the field. Bryant also focuses on being able to adjust to different situations throughout the course of a game.
He does not necessarily have explosive speed. However, Bryant has quickness that can hang with arguably any wide receiver. His long speed is actually just as potent as his short area quickness. Moreover, Bryant can stick with opponents, due to his smoothness within the hip sink, hip coil and flipping the hips to turn and run down the field. Because of this, he is largely difficult to get around or completely shake away from. Bryant’s clean footwork allows him to sustain leverage and readjust on a dime, if need be.
Bryant is definitely willing to come in and lay a shoulder into the opponent. He clearly has a quicker trigger than some may expect, due to his patient style. There are some inconsistencies with Bryant’s tackling form and strike zone. But, his improvements in areas like making stops in space or attacking the feet of the opponent, rather than the ball, could continue to give him a more solid foundation moving forward.
Bryant does not necessarily have horrible length. Nevertheless, this defender is just not as gifted with the otherworldly numbers that we have seen with recent cornerbacks entering the NFL. His overall mass and play style make up for that, however. Bryant does have a good feel and comfort for timing up his extensions and disruptions when going against routes. The same can be said when facing receivers at the point of reception.
Bryant was obviously able to move around to both sides of the field at Cincinnati. At the same time, he was primarily used as an outside cornerback on the weak side of the formation. Bryant will not likely see as many snaps in the slot or in the box, which he briefly experienced with the Bearcats. This is also due to the play style and temperament that he is comfortable with. Bryant may be able to boost his rookie stock by providing special teams value, though.
The Kansas City Chiefs have some well-rounded skillsets within their current cornerback room. But, they still lacked in terms of consistent playmaking ability last season. Both things can be true. Not only is Coby Bryant a bonafide playmaker on the outside of the defensive formation. In fact, he has proven that he can continue to progress and deliver situationally, as he did throughout his college career.
His patience, body control and instincts could be a nice wrench thrown into the Chiefs cornerback mix. Bryant is not necessarily physical or long on the outside. However, his approach on defense could mesh well with the speed of a L’Jarius Sneed or the length of a Rashad Fenton. Most of all, Bryant’s instincts and situational awareness is monumental for a younger defender playing one of the most difficult positions in football. He has shown that he can handle a full plate, which would also be important if he were to join the Steve Spagnuolo defense.
Be on the lookout for more FPC Chiefs draft prospect profiles throughout the rest of the spring. For more great sports and NFL content, stay tuned to Full Press Coverage.
– Braden Holecek is the Kansas City Chiefs managing editor for Full Press Coverage. He covers the NFL. Like and follow on Follow @ebearcat9//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js Follow @FPC_Chiefs//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js and Facebook.
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