Even for a team that won 11 games last season, there weren’t a ton of NFL ready prospects on the roster for the Cincinnati Bearcats. However, considering that there are seven rounds in the NFL Draft and the fact that such an event includes more than 200 selections, there is at least some chance that a Bearcat will have his name called this weekend. If there is one player who best fits the bill, it is Cortez Broughton, who has been gaining some real hype as the draft approaches.
Broughton saved the best part of his career for his senior season. That could be seen as a strength or a weakness depending on your perspective. If we take a positive outlook, the evidence shows that Broughton took in the lessons he accumulated and used them to improve his play in a major way. With thanks due to a superior defensive scheme than the one from his first few years, Broughton blossomed into an all-conference defensive tackle in 2018. He smashed his personal career-best marks in tackles for loss (17.5) and sacks (6.5). Adding elite pass-rushing abilities to his skill set should serve him well at the next level where teams are always looking to upgrade their ability to create pressure, especially from the interior.
Those 17.5 tackles for loss were a big part of Broughtons’ leadership for the UC rush defense, which led the AAC in 2018. Broughton not only kept the middle a dangerous place for opposing running backs, he also pursued ball carriers effectively and made sure it was difficult to break open big runs.
Beyond his skills at shedding blockers and making plays in the offensive backfield, Broughton consistently displayed an ability to read play calls and the intention of opposing quarterbacks. With active hands at the line, he produced 10 passes defended and an interception during his collegiate career, which are pretty remarkable numbers when you consider that he was battling offensive linemen at the center of the trenches on each and every play.
Area to Improve
NFL general mangers may be wary of Broughton’s ability to consistently perform like he did last fall. As I mentioned, he really improved his production as a senior but that means that he wasn’t performing at such an incredible rate in the years before. He did earn all-American Athletic Conference second-team honors in 2016, but in 2017 he managed only 3.5 total tackles for loss. So the plan for Broughton’s ascension to an NFL regular is a pretty simple one: just continue the progressive path he has already started.
The Arizona Cardinals would seem like a pretty solid landing spot for Broughton. They are a team that ranked last in the NFL in rushing defense and 29th in sacks last season. In addition, they only have three defensive tackles on the roster currently. Broughton could not only help fortify the ranks but add some punch to the pass rush and rush defense. Other teams that would could use a player with his abilities include the Oakland Raiders and Jacksonville Jaguars.