Every time the draft comes around, character questions become a major part of the process. It affects how willing teams are to take a player high in the draft. Reggie McKenzie said in his first round draft press conference that he is treating the trade to acquire Martavis Bryant like a draft pick, sending the 79th pick, which they received from trading down with the Cardinals, to Pittsburgh.
“Martavis was all about being able to use that pick and get another player,” said McKenzie. “It’s like drafting a player. We feel like we’ve drafted Martavis Bryant.”
With that in mind, this ‘pick’ should be looked at with the same scrutiny. And it’s highly concerning.
Bryant was originally a 4th round pick by the Steelers out of Clemson. He had decent, but not great numbers his first couple of seasons, but mainly his issue was drugs.
Bryant failed a drug test that had him suspended the first four games of the 2015 season. Then he was suspended the entire 2016 season from failing SIX drug tests! This prompted a rehab stint.
He returned in 2017 and then lost his job to JuJu Smith-Schuster and his response was voice his desire to leave Pittsburgh. For all that, the Steelers ended up getting a pick higher than they spent when they originally drafted him.
Bryant may not start in Oakland either, and with just one year left on his rookie contract, if he plays well and wants to go somewhere he can start, the Raiders will have just traded a third round pick to rent him for a year.
His character aside, what of his talent? Reggie McKenzie was asked what he saw in Martavis Bryant.
“Other than he’s scored a lot of touchdowns and gets all the first downs, he’s ideal what you’re looking for in a receiver,” McKenzie responded. “He can play big. He can play fast. He makes plays. We think he can be a dynamic receiver for Derek [Carr].”
He can definitely play big. He’s 6-4, 211 pounds. He averaged 15.2 yards per catch and 53.3 yards per game with 17 combined touchdowns in 36 appearances with 16 starts. His 15 games played last season was the most of his career. He appeared in 10 games as a rookie and 11 his second season due to his first suspension. And, of course, not at all in 2016.
It would take a lot to go right that has not gone right with Bryant for this to be a solid trade. Obviously he will have had to be past his drug issues first and foremost. If he can, he has the talent the Raiders desperately need on this team as a big red zone target. But even in that instance, they won’t get to enjoy four years of him on a rookie contract. He is going to be expensive to keep after this season.