By Michael Stets
ALLEN PARK – Lions GM Bob Quinn has always shown a willingness to trade and at the start of Day 3, he pulled the trigger on his second deal of the weekend. Quinn traded down in Round 4, sending pick No.111 to Atlanta for the Falcons’ sixth-round pick, No.186, and pick No.117, which he used to select Clemson defensive end Austin Bryant.
Bryant, 22, was a two-year starter and helped the Tigers win a National Title in 2018, earning third-team All-ACC honors with 44 tackles and eight sacks. He was named the Cotton Bowl Defensive MVP in the CPB Playoff Semifinals against Notre Dame.
Dane Brugler of The Athletic, gave this pre-draft analysis on Bryant: “Overall, Bryant is a determined rusher with NFL length and play violence, but he relies more on effort than burst, power or know-how, projecting as an NFL back-up edge rusher.”
Bryant has the size and length that Quinn and head coach Matt Patricia prefer on the edge at 6-foot-four, 271 pounds with 34 5/8-inch arms. He will likely become part of the defensive line rotation, playing behind Da’Shawn Hand, Trey Flowers, and Romeo Okwara. Bryant also possesses toughness and ability to play through adversity, playing with a torn pectoral last season and waiting until January to have surgery.
“At the end of the day I knew why I came back to school and that was not only to get my degree but play in and win a National Championship,” Bryant said in a conference call. “That’s what I wanted to do. If I could walk I was going to be out on that field with my teammates just because that’s how much I love those guys. I wouldn’t be able to live with myself if I knew that I could’ve went out there and played and didn’t so … It may have had consequences, but it was well worth it. I ended up in the right place in Detroit, Michigan. I can’t wait to get there and see the city, meet everybody in the facility, and just bring a great attitude, a great working-man mentality to the program.”
Clemson is well known for its defensive prowess. Four of Bryant’s Clemson teammates were taken in the first 40 picks of this year’s draft with three defensive linemen (Clelin Ferrell, Dexter Lawrence, Christian Wilkins) going in the top 17.
Was Bryant surprised he didn’t get taken earlier than the fourth round?
“Who knows? Speculation is speculation,” Bryant said. “But all I know is that I’m very happy to be a Detroit Lion. It really doesn’t matter when you get drafted or where. It’s all about what you do when you get there. And I’m glad and I’m blessed that I’m going to play for a great tradition of a football team, [and] to be in a great league, a fraternity that not many people get to say that they are a part of.”