Kelly Bryant arrived at Mizzou with expectations he was never going to be able to live up to. He left with a fanbase ultimately disappointed both because of his performance and the team’s lack of success.
It’s hard to say how much of that was justified, though.
Bryant was a solid quarterback at one of the best programs in the country, finishing the 2017 & 2018 seasons completing a combined 66 percent of his passes for 7.2 yards per attempt, 15 touchdowns and nine interceptions. That’s... Fine. Not good, but not bad, either.
Fine wasn’t going to cut it with the supporting cast this season at Missouri.
That’s what was weird about his lone season at Missouri. Bryant wasn’t “fine” at any point this season. He was either quite good, or quite un-good.
In Bryant’s first six games, it looked like he was breaking out the way so many Tigers fans were hoping he would. In those six games he completed 65 percent of his passes for 8.75 yards per attempt with 12 passing touchdowns and just four interceptions. That’s a pace every Mizzou fan would have been happy with.
But something changed. I don’t know if it was scheme, health, or a combination of the two. But Bryant’s performance and production dropped off a cliff. In his final four games, he completed just 57 percent of his passes at a rate of 5.7 yards per attempt. He had just three touchdowns and one interception in those four games.
It became hard to watch.
Here are Bryant’s career stats:
What does it all mean for his draft prospects? It’s hard to say. Which player are you drafting? If you’re selecting the player we saw the first six games of the season, Bryant could be the perfect modern backup quarterback; a player who can get you through a game in a pinch with his mobility and playmaking. The hope is the first six games wasn’t a mirage and the final four games can be explained by his hamstring injury.
Regardless, I have a belief it’ll click for Bryant in the NFL and he’ll ultimately find a role as a quality backup quarterback. Some of that is based on the player. A lot of it is because of the person.
Bryant seems to have a way with his teammates that’s rare. A group of his former Clemson teammates made the trip to Columbia for the Tigers’ Spring Game last season. They returned again in the fall during one of Clemson’s bye weeks. His teammates at Mizzou seemingly loved Bryant in way that’s rare.
That’s hugely valuable in a locker room. A team-first player that’s seen as an energy giver. Bryant will likely go at some point on day three, and the team that takes him will be getting a quality player and person who can contribute as a solid backup for years to come.