In the hours since it was announced that Steelers third-year receiver Martavis Bryant is facing a year-long suspension for, once again, violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy, the reactions among media members and fans can be paraphrased like this:
- “How can such a talented receiver potentially throw everything away?”
But maybe the better question is: Why did Martavis Bryant, a youngster who possesses all the physical attributes you could ever want in a wide-receiver, last until the fourth round of the 2014 NFL Draft?
- If you really are honest with yourself, Â the best answer is because scouts and coaches knewÂ BryantÂ could potentially throw all of that talent away.
Speaking of quotes about Bryant’s potential, here’s one from NFL.com’s Mike Mayock, courtesy of Bryant’s pre-draft profile: “Bryant has a crazy wide receiver skill set, but he’s a one-year wonder. The guy has some scary talent, but also some immaturity issues.”
The last part of that quote, the stuff about Bryant’s immaturity, that speaks volumes. And as Bryant’s mom, Roberta, told ESPN last year in a story that was published in the weeks following her son’s four-game drug suspension to begin the 2015 season, those immaturity issues began to surface when he was still at Clemson, and they manifested themselves by, among other things, “being around the wrong crowds.”
- Obviously, if Bryant’s mom knew about the crowds her son was hanging out with while in college, NFL scouts, coaches and general managers certainly knew.
While it’s often a joke and kind of ridiculous what NFL personnel ask prospects during interviews at events like the just concluded NFL Combine, you can certainly understand the need for being thorough. There’s a lot of money and time invested in draft choices, and the higher they’re picked, the bigger the investment.
Just judging Bryant by his frame (6’4″) and 40 speed (4.4), you’d think it would be a no-brainer that a player with those attributes would somehow work his way into the first round, this despite a college reputation as an undisciplined route runner with suspect hands.
- For Bryant to fall so far, tells you all you need to know. There’s a reason scouts and coaches are thorough when vetting a potential draft choice.
Can you imagine if some team had taken a chance on Bryant and drafted him in the first round?
Look at what the Browns are going through right now, just two years after selecting quarterback Johnny Manziel in the first round. Manziel had a chance to perhaps take the Browns’ organization to places it hadn’t been since it came back into the NFL as an expansion team in 1999; he could have been a hero, a savior. Instead of that, however, Manziel’s many off-the-field troubles have made him just another punchline for the joke that the Browns’ franchise continues to be.
You look at Bryant’s stats in his very short time in the league, and they just scream breakout star:
- 76 receptions for 1,314 yards and 14 touchdowns in just 21 games.
But the rub is that he has only played in 21 of a possible 32 games, and, unless some miracle happens, a year from now, you will be able to change that to 21 out of 48.
- In other words, he is totally unreliable, and his career-arc is the perfect example of what Mayock meant by his quote.
Martavis Bryant does have some scary talent–good enough to be a first round pick. However, his immaturity issues were a concern for a reason, and that’s why he fell so far, and that’s why his career could be cut short before it even has a chance to blossom.