When you’re named after one of the greatest basketball players to ever do it, there’s an almost unfair level of expectation placed on you pretty much from birth. Thankfully, Cincinnati cornerback Coby Bryant heads to the 2022 NFL Draft having exceeded all possible expectations of his college career. He was honored as the best cornerback in the nation this year, but what does Bryant’s scouting report tell us about his pro potential?
Coby Bryant NFL Draft Profile
- Position: Cornerback
- School: Cincinnati
- Current Year: Graduate senior
- Height: 6’1″
- Weight: 198 pounds
Coby Bryant Scouting Report
Lost in the argument over whether Cincinnati did or didn’t belong in the College Football Playoff this season is the fact that they have a roster backed with NFL-caliber talent. In Ahmad Gardner and Myjai Sanders, they have two potential first-round prospects. Quarterback Desmond Ridder is also held in high regard in some quarters.
Bryant has NFL Draft potential in his own right. Throughout his career, the Cincinnati cornerback has tallied 170 tackles, 35 pass breakups, 9 interceptions, and 4 forced fumbles. The gaudy statistics catch the eye, helping him secure national recognition. However, diving beneath the numbers in his scouting report reveals some NFL-level traits.
During his time in Cincinnati, Bryant has developed into the ideal size for an NFL cornerback. An undersized high school prospect whose build compromised his recruiting journey, he now looks every bit the NFL CB. Additionally, he appears to have decent functional length. He doesn’t have the longest arms in this cornerback class. However, they meet the requisite NFL threshold.
More importantly, Bryant knows how to put his frame and length to good use in coverage. At the line of scrimmage, he can jab his arm into his opponent to gain an advantage on release. Down the route, he does a good job of using his length to feel for his opponent. Additionally, he can use this combined with physicality to work the receiver to the sideline. At the catch point, he can get his arm around to make a play on the ball.
Fluid, fearless, and mentally fine-tuned
Bryant’s scouting report showcases some impressive athletic ability. He’s extremely fluid and possesses incredibly fast feet. Furthermore, he demonstrates the ability to transition from an excellent backpedal into running with ease and no wasted movement. His straight-line speed is impressive, and he’s shown the range to cover the entire width of the field to make a play.
The Cincinnati cornerback is also impressive from a mental aspect. He can be seen routinely communicating with his teammates to ensure they are aligned correctly. Bryant is also capable of making post-snap adjustments. He does a good job reading the quarterback, and he shows an innate understanding of route concepts. Cincinnati staff praised his attention to detail in film study, which is apparent on tape.
This intelligence is also evident in run support. Bryant routinely takes excellent angles when playing against the run. The Cincinnati cornerback showcases excellent play diagnosis in this regard. As an “alpha” in the secondary, he plays with a physicality against the run, confidently taking on ball carriers of any stature.
At present, I have Bryant listed as my 123rd overall player in the 2022 NFL Draft. That puts him as a fourth-round selection early on Day 3. With a Senior Bowl invite in his grasp, it would be a surprise to see him selected later than that. He also has the potential to elevate his stock with an exceptional performance in Mobile.
Areas for improvement
While Bryant projects as an early Day 3 prospect in the 2022 NFL Draft, there are some areas for improvement in his game. These could potentially limit when he’s selected. However, as an intelligent player with impressive athleticism, these coachable improvements should be well within his capability.
As mentioned above, Bryant plays with a physicality against the run. He’s a willing tackler. Nonetheless, he needs to be more consistent with his approach to the technical aspect. He doesn’t routinely wrap up when tackling, allowing his opponent to sometimes break free for extra yardage.
In coverage, he doesn’t always play as tight as you would like to see. There were multiple examples on film where he allowed at least a yard or two of separation that allowed his opponent to pick up a first down or gain a chunk of yardage before he was able to bring him to the ground.
Although Bryant has showcased some ability to disengage from blocks, he needs to ensure this is the norm rather than the exception in his game. He’s particularly inconsistent in this regard.
Bryant Player Profile
Some people are born with a silver spoon in their mouth. Others, possibly by virtue of their famous namesake, are born with a “Mamba mentality.” Cincinnati CB Bryant certainly falls within the latter category. However, it’s not just an expectation of greatness and an alpha mentality that has driven Bryant to the brink of the 2022 NFL Draft.
He has been fueled at every stop along the way. His brother, Christian, was his idol at a young age. Coby watched as the elder Bryant forged a collegiate career at Ohio State and made his way to the NFL with the Arizona Cardinals. At Glenville High School, he was coached by the father of NFL star Ted Ginn Jr., at the school where NFL star Marshon Lattimore learned his craft.
As a junior, Bryant tallied 50 tackles, 5 pass breakups, and 1 interception. He spent time at cornerback and safety for Glenville, showcasing some defensive versatility. As a senior, he earned an AP All-Northwest Lakes District DII honorable mention. In a year where Glenville went 7-0, their cornerback was named a Senate League All-Star.
Despite this success, Bryant wasn’t heavily recruited. A three-star prospect and ranked the 170th cornerback in the class, he had a smattering of offers from smaller schools, including Western Michigan, Buffalo, and Marshall. However, a familiarity with Cincinnati head coach Luke Fickell from his brother’s time at Ohio State presented an unexpected opportunity.
“I told him that this would be an opportunity for him, and we’d have a great relationship and have a great time doing this,” Fickell would later reflect on Bryant’s recruitment.
“I expected more calls,” said the Cincinnati cornerback. “But, I was grateful for the ones that I received. I was excited Coach Fickell wanted me and I took the opportunity with it.”
Bryant’s career at Cincinnati
Within five years, he’d take the opportunity, run with it, and become recognized as the best cornerback in the nation. Back in 2017, however, he was still an undersized freshman battling to make his way in the college world. At Glenville, he measured in at 5’11” and 150 pounds, making him a slender figure physically unsuited to the college game.
During his freshman campaign, he developed and saw time on special teams and limited action at defensive back. Bryant made his debut against Austin Peay, tallying 4 tackles during the 2017 season. It paved the way for a sophomore season where he became a full-time starter at cornerback for Cincinnati.
Bryant opened the season with 5 tackles against UCLA. Between that game and a Military Bowl performance that saw him secure 8 tackles, the Cincinnati CB tallied 33 tackles, 11 pass breakups, 2 interceptions, and 1 forced fumble. Both interceptions came in a standout performance against Temple. Impressively, he played nine games of the season following a fractured hand injury.
Bryant began to carve his name into the Cincinnati record books as a junior. Coming back to haunt Temple once more, he scored off a blocked PAT for only the second time in school history. During the season, he tallied 54 tackles, 8 pass breakups, and 1 interception (3 of those 8 pass breakups came in a standout performance against East Carolina).
Establishing himself as one of the best in the nation
Despite the disruption of the 2020 college football season, Bryant continued to impress at cornerback for Cincinnati. Having earned All-AAC Academic honors as a junior, he achieved first-team honors in his senior season. After securing 2 interceptions against USF and picks against ECU and Georgia, he led the team with 4 interceptions. He added another 7 pass breakups, 35 tackles, and a forced fumble to his résumé.
Although he could have declared for the NFL Draft following his senior season, Bryant opted to return for his final year of eligibility. The decision paid dividends, as he established himself as one of the best CBs in the nation. In the program’s biggest game vs. Notre Dame, he was named the Lott Trophy Impact Player of the Week after registering 7 tackles and 3 pass breakups.
During the 2021 season, he registered 42 tackles, 11 pass breakups, 3 interceptions, and 3 forced fumbles. As teams repeatedly avoided teammate Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner, Bryant was the Cincinnati cornerback clubs routinely tested. And, routinely, he passed the test with flying colors. As a result, he was named the Jim Thorpe Defensive Back of the Year. The young man named after basketball royalty had ascended to the highest point of his position at the college level.
“Coby is an extraordinary man,” cornerback coach Perry Eliano told media as he attempted to summarize Bryant. “He’s a tremendous leader on and off the field. His success is no surprise to me or anyone in the building. The by-product of his success is due to his unmatched determination to be the very best.”