For the NFL Combine, numerous players will have the opportunity to either increase their draft stock through this process or see their stock fall due to poor medicals, interviews, and/or athletic testing.
Prior to the Combine, I wrote a preview highlighting five players that we need to keep an eye on in the lens of the Pittsburgh Steelers and what they are looking for this offseason. The first name on that list? Clemson DL Bryan Bresee.
At the Combine on Wednesday, I got to speak to Bresee and asked him what separates him from the rest of the defensive linemen in this draft class.
“My athletic ability, my competitiveness, and my past rush ability,” Bresee answered. “Just a bunch of things for a big guy that are very uncommon.”
Bryan Bresee is a big, long, fast, and explosive defender that backs up the pedigree as a former top recruit out of high school. He has the strength at the point of attack and can move all over the defensive front, having the strength to play inside as well as the athleticism to rush over the tackle on the edge. When it comes to potential, Bresee has it.
However, he never reached that potential at Clemson after going through adversity the last couple of years. He tore up his ACL four games into the 2021 season, missing the rest of the campaign, and saw more adversity come his way in 2022, dealing with a kidney infection while losing his younger sister to brain cancer. When asked about how he was able to handle and overcome adversity last season, Bresee said the game as well as his support group helped him weather those storms.
“Football was my escape through a lot of things,” Bresee said. Having my teammates, my family, coaches, a lot of support all around me was definitely crucial during that time. And it motivated me just to push through and continue to go.”
Having talked to NFL Network draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah during his pre-Combine conference call, he said that teams were split on Bresee due to the injuries, lack of production at Clemson, and the technical issues that show up in his tape. He mentioned that the Combine will be big in terms of showing teams that he is indeed healthy and is deserving of the first-round projections he has been getting since he took the field as a freshman back in 2020.
“Just going out to this combine and competing,” Bresee said. “I’m doing everything. I think just showing everybody healthy me out here and just show them how I move, how I work. I think that’ll help me a lot. I feel great. Uh, I feel really, really good. So yeah, I’m super excited. Towards the end of the season, I started feeling much better and into now this offseason and then now to the combine. I think just going out here and doing everything out here competing will show a lot of people a lot of things here.”
The Combine will be a money maker or a money pit for Bresee depending on how he fares in the medical checks and in the on-field workout. However, he shouldn’t have to worry about the interview process as Bresee is a well-spoken man with first class character. Pittsburgh Steelers HC Mike Tomlin would know that as Bresee said that he and Tomlin have been tight since his first year in the Tiger program.
“Yeah, I have talked to them,” Bresee told me. “I’ve known Coach Tomlin since my freshman year at Clemson. He’s there all the time. So, it was just like catching up with an old friend with him. He’s a great guy. Super easy to talk to and a phenomenal coach.”
As Dave Bryan highlighted in a recent post on Bresee, he is likely in the running for Pittsburgh’s 17th overall selection in the first round for various reasons. He checks all the boxes from what the Steelers look for in DL prospects, being listed at 6053, 305-pounds with another outlet has Bresee possessing 33-inch arms and 10 2/8-inch hands. He has known Tomlin for three seasons now as the two catch up every time Tomlin goes to Clemson. He has the pedigree of a top recruit and oozes potential to become an impactful interior defensive lineman.
Still, the concerns with Bresee cannot be ignored as he has the injury concerns he will need to put to rest along with being extremely raw, needing refinement to clean up the technical errors in his game. In summary, Bryan Bresee is a low floor/high ceiling prospect that you must trust regarding the medical as well as your coaching staff to get the best out of him consistently. Should the medical check out, Pittsburgh may believe they can be that team with Karl Dunbar coaching him up and Cam Heyward mentoring him from Day 1. We shall see how he fares with his workout portion of the Combine on Thursday, but Bryan Bresee is a name to keep circled throughout the rest of the pre-draft process.