During the 2019 NFL Draft cycle, I stumbled upon film of the Fresno State defense while watching offensive players from the Mountain West. While I was able to see Fresno State play a couple of live games, I didn’t realize the success they had had on the defensive side last year.
For the season, they only allowed 14.1 points per game, good for 3rd lowest in the country. Those numbers aren’t inflated due to play in the Mountain West, as they were equally as successful against Power-5 and other quality competition.
Fresno State only allowed 21 points against Minnesota, 14 against UCLA, 16 against Boise State and 20 points against Arizona State. For a lesser known defense, they were getting after it.
The Bulldogs had some decent drafts prospects come from that defense last year, but the best one might be back to hold down one side of the field in 2019.
Jaron Bryant, the 6’1 rising senior cornerback enters the year coming off of consecutive All-Mountain West selections. He’s racked up 117 tackles, 5 interceptions and 19 passes defended in those seasons.
The first word that came to mind when evaluating Jaron Bryant? Opportunistic. In 2017, two of his interceptions were returned for touchdowns. In week one of last year, he returned two blocked kicks for touchdowns in the same quarter against Idaho.
On top of being relied on to shut down one third of the field, Bryant is a fierce tackler. He’s constantly looking to mix things up, which suggests a potential at multiple defensive back positions in the NFL.
With a few defenders gone from the dominant Fresno State 2018 defense, Bryant will be relied on even more if they’re going to sustain that success. He’s posed to take that challenge head on, and improve his draft stock in the process.