A 2017 NFL Draft prospect, Caleb Brantley, is facing a misdemeanor charge for allegedly knocking a woman unconscious earlier this month.
The former Florida Gators defensive tackle was considered a first or second round pick in this week’s draft. However, legal allegations may make NFL teams reconsider drafting Brantley at all.
On Friday, Brantley was charged with misdemeanor simple battery from an incident with Chelsea Austin, 20, that occurred earlier this month. According to ESPN, a woman told police that Brantley made crude comments towards Austin which resulted in her pushing the 6-foot-2 defensive lineman. Brantley responded by striking her in the face and knocking her unconscious.
The complaint from the Alachua County Clerk of Court in Gainesville, Florida, also said that the 5-foot-2 woman suffered dental injuries from the incident. Austin suffered a displaced tooth which will require a root canal. Further, the complaint said Brantley used force that was out of retaliation and not self-defense. The intensity of Brantley’s force exceeded what was necessary, according to the complaint.
One of the women in the complaint said she was standing next to Austin during the dispute. She said Brantley knocked Austin unconscious. Another female witness said she saw Brantley strike Austin with a closed fist. This second witness identified Brantley from a photo lineup as the man who threw the punch. Per 24/7 Sports, that makes two women who claim that Brantley was the aggressor.
The alleged incident took place on April 13 at 2:15 a.m. at Fat Daddy’s Bar in Gainesville, Florida. After the incident, Austin confirmed that she struck Brantley first. She said he disrespected her. The initial police report listed Brantley as the victim and no charges were made at the time, per WTSP. Caleb Brantley suffered no injuries from the altercation.
However, the attorneys for the complainant in the Caleb Brantley case says the Gainesville Police Department falsified a report in the investigation.
In a release from the Tampa Bay Times, the representation for Austin said that the facts circulated about the incident were inaccurate. They said it is simply not true that Austin struck Brantley first. The release also says that Austin was and is the victim of the incident, not Brantley.
According to the release, Austin is undergoing extensive medical treatment after the incident. Further, Austin’s life has been affected as a result of the incident and the alleged false report. She has received numerous hateful comments and pressure from social media to drop the charges. She wants the harassment to stop and she wants to return to life before the incident, per the release.
Brantley, 22, did not immediately return calls for comment, per the ESPN report. On the other hand, Austin referred questions to her lawyers.
Ultimately, we should find out more information as the case gets closer to court. At the moment, it seems like there are a lot of conflicting facts about that night.
Brantley registered 80 tackles, 5.5 sacks, and three forced fumbles over 31 games during his three seasons at Florida.
Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller ranked Brantley as the sixth best defensive tackle in the 2017 NFL Draft. Now, Miller tweeted that this incident could cause Brantley to slip out of the draft entirely.
It is true that teams will have to scramble for information on Brantley’s incident with the draft less than a week away. Moreover, they will have to talk to Brantley and see how he handles the incident. Even if he is innocent, there is too much uncertainty for an NFL team to invest a high draft pick into Brantley. If he is guilty of the battery charge, then a team faces public relations headaches as the NFL has cracked down on domestic violence issues of the past few seasons.
CBS Sports has Brantley as the sixth defensive tackle too. Brantley is the 75th overall ranked prospect in the 2017 NFL Draft, per CBS Sports. Additionally, ESPN ranks Brantley as the No. 4 defensive tackle and No. 55 prospect overall. Of course, that could change with this latest report or if more information puts Brantley in a bad light.
After the combine, a separate CBS Sports article said that Brantley admitted there were issues with his effort at Florida. His combine tests were also underwhelming, according to the article.
It remains to be seen if Caleb Brantley can uphold that draft stock with this misdemeanor charge over him. Questionable tests, effort, and an off-field charge could make Brantley tumble down draft boards. We will find out where Brantley lands when the 2017 NFL Draft begins April 27 at 8 p.m. EST. Brantley might not hear his name called until the later rounds, which occur on April 28 and 29.
[Featured Image by David J. Phillip/AP Images]