- Bryan Bresee
- 6’5″ 305 lbs
Bresee was a five-star prospect, and the #1 player ranked nationally in the 2020 recruiting class. The Maryland native played football at Damascus High School, where he earned the Gatorade Player of the Year. Bresee was also named Maryland Defensive Player of the Year in 2018. He was also named a USA Today All- American in both 2018 and 2019. The star defensive lineman led his team to a state championship in 2019. Bresee would finish his high school playing career with 80.5 tackles for loss and 35 sacks. He committed to Clemson in a star-studded class that features multiple players projected to have first-round grades in the 2023 NFL draft.
The highly touted recruit made an immediate impact on the Clemson Tigers’ defense. In his first three games, he recorded six tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks, and two passes defended. He recorded four sacks in 2020 which led the nation among all true freshmen. The star of the Clemson recruiting class achieved the ACC Defensive Rookie of the Year as well as being named AP All-ACC first-team defense. Breese would finish out his first season at Clemson with 5 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, and a sack in the Sugar Bowl.
Unfortunately for Bresee, he struggled with injuries for a large part of his career at Clemson. He tore his ACL just four games into his sophomore season. That would cost him the entirety of the season. The Bresee family was also dealing with a personal tragedy heading into the 2022 season. Ella Bresee, the sister of Bryan, passed away after being diagnosed with a rare form of brain cancer. The former #1 recruit dedicated a game in her honor against Furman in 2022.
Bresee didn’t quite look like the same player in 2022 as he did when he burst onto the scene as a true freshman. He has struggled both physically and mentally getting back but did post 3.5 sacks, his most since the 2020 season. Bresee was named a LOTT Impact quarterfinalist and All-ACC second-team defense. The Clemson DT declared for the 2023 NFL draft in January.
Drawing a Crowd
There are constantly so many hidden yards in a football game that never get accounted for on the stat sheet. Unfortunately, this doesn’t translate into fantasy football scoring. However, having an interior defender who can create havoc is a huge plus for NFL teams. We often call this doing the ‘dirty work’ as a defensive tackle. A player who can take on a double-team or even tie up three blockers so his teammates can make a stop is key to a good run defense.
Bresee makes a hard inside move here and disrupts this run play before it even starts. He crashes inside and creates a logjam of traffic. The ball carrier has almost no chance on this play without making a highlight-level play to find a hole and create positive yardage. Bresee isn’t always going to be credited with these tackles. He had a huge part in why this play was a win for the Clemson defense.
Bresee is a large man with the type of lateral movement that can make blocking him on the interior difficult. The former top recruit can play multiple positions on the defensive front, as he showed at Clemson. According to PFF, he played 910 DL snaps during his career. He was charted with 773 of those coming as an A or B gap defender. Bresee did play 36 snaps outside the tackle this season, the most of his career. This was also the most he’s played since his freshman season when he earned All-ACC defensive honors.
The versatility he possesses makes him even more of an intriguing prospect. Bresee will be the most successful if he’s allowed just to use his natural gifts to get in the backfield and blow up blocking assignments. He has struggled post-ACL injury to be a gap-control run defender. This is just not where he’s at his best, but he has shown he can play that role.
Flashes of Dominance
Bresee was a highly-ranked recruit for a reason. He has great movement, athleticism, and power for his size. His dominance at the high school level had pro scouts keeping an eye on him before he ever stepped foot on a college campus. The Clemson defensive tackle has shown flashes of being a truly dominant player at times. He has routinely wrecked offensive game plans, especially pre-ACL injury.
Here he shows some of those flashes in 2022 post-ACL injury. The Clemson defense is attempting to protect a 14-point lead in the ACC Championship game, and Bresee clearly came out of half attempting to send a message. In the first play, he lines up outside the tackle and uses his power and hands to counter the offensive tackle once he reads it’s a play-action pass. The TE is lined up here to give help, but he slides inside to pick up a blitz that never comes. Bresee can shed the blocker and get pressure on the QB, and forces a near interception.
The second play here is a well-executed spin move from a 300 lb. defender. Bresee’s lateral movement is slowly getting back to where it once was. It’s apparent he continues to improve after missing almost all of the 2021 season. This is when the Clemson defender is at his best when he can get backfield penetration and throw the timing off instantly. He is very good at not overcommitting and forcing the QB off the spot to make a rushed throw.
The recovery from the 2021 ACL injury has been a long road back for Bresee. The Clemson defensive lineman has struggled to show some of the same explosiveness he did during his freshman season. The durability concerns are a major red flag for a player of his caliber. As a dynasty manager, it’s extremely frustrating to have a player with so much upside but can be listed as questionable on a week-to-week basis.
I feel as long as he steadily progresses and doesn’t suffer a long-term injury, especially to his lower body, he will get back to being the same player. This is a young player who has been through a lot in his career already. Bresee has had to overcome physical and emotional trauma at such a young age. That, combined with the pressure of being a top recruit and playing at a high level for a team that’s expected to be a National Championship contender every year, can make or break you.
Playing With Leverage
This one seems to be the easiest to call out for prospects when you watch one of their ‘bad games.’ I saw this in the Florida State game, the worst-graded game of the season a 41.3 overall grade by pro football focus. Bresee had one of his worst performances and didn’t seem like himself in that game.
The Clemson coaching staff monitored Bresee’s snaps after his injury. He played less than 350 snaps in the 2022 season. There are very few prospects that don’t have the occasional off-game, but this game against the Seminoles showcased the things that most people are concerned about with Bresee as a prospect
Bresee does almost everything right here. He can get penetration and works his way down the line of scrimmage to make a potential tackle for loss or no gain on the running back. He takes a poor angle at the point of contact and ends up missing the tackle. This turns what could be a negative play into a big first down and sets the Florida State offense up for another scoring opportunity.
You’re rarely going to get a running back down making a high tackle while chasing. The hustle and effort are there in this play, he just doesn’t execute. Making plays like this routinely can be the difference between being a rotational player and being a starter.
Bresee is going to be an interesting prospect to monitor from now up until the draft. He can go anywhere from the late first round to the third round as of now. While there are many things to like, there are still concerns about how the former two-time high school All-American will perform. Three teams I would keep my eye on would be Seattle, Pittsburgh, and Arizona. I think he fits well with all three and likely becomes a Day 1 starter for either NFC West team. The Los Angeles Chargers are also an intriguing spot for Bresee with their lack of depth in the 2022 season.
If the Steelers can find a way to draft him in the second or third round, they would be the best fit from a dynasty perspective. You’ll have a 12-year vet in Cam Heyward, who has been a very solid IDP, showing him the ropes. Although he may not get the snaps in Pittsburgh as he would for another team immediately, it could benefit his career long-term.
As dynasty managers, we rarely hold out much hope that an interior defensive lineman will be highly productive. We have seen players accomplish this, and there’s a ton of upside in taking these guys earlier than most would in DT-premium formats. It’s nearly impossible to project that a player can be the next Jeffrey Simmons, but if you can find a player who is, you’ll fill a massive hole in your dynasty roster at a very cheap price.
This defensive tackle class is a bit deep, and if others are selected ahead of him in the NFL draft as expected, there can be some hidden value on the Clemson defender. In those dynasty formats that do not require a DT to be started, you’ll be looking in the last two rounds of your rookie draft to select Bresee. I always encourage managers to take a shot on an IDP starter at a thin position over a WR or TE, who will need at least a year or two to develop.
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