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Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Desmond Bryant makes Oakland Raiders

Defensive tackle Desmond Bryant '09 has made it through final cuts of the NFL's Oakland Raiders and is a member of their 53-man roster as a backup defensive lineman. Bryant signed with the Raiders as an undrafted rookie free agent shortly after the 2009 NFL Draft.

Rare as it is to make an NFL squad as an undrafted free agent - it's even rarer to make it as a Harvard alum. The 6-5, 290 lb. end/tackle hybrid impressed pro scouts at Harvard's pro day before the NFL draft with his wingspan, speed, and power. Though Bryant has some ways to go with technique, he has worked hard to get up to pro speed since signing with the Raiders.

Raiders Head Coach Tom Cable told the Associated Press that, "he’s got the big body, and he’s got the want-to, and he’s allowing his coach to take him where he’s trying to go.”

Bryant told the AP that, "Surprisingly, it hasn’t been as bad as I thought. The speed of the game is obviously a little faster, guys are a little bit bigger, but the biggest thing I would say would be technique-wise. Technique is everything out here, whereas before I was bigger and stronger than everybody. I could use that more. Now I have to have my technique down a lot more."

Bryant always impressed those of us in the booth with his sheer athleticism and power on the defensive line, and he dominated many Ivy League offensive linemen. He took some time off from school at one point, which may have hampered recognition of his abilities around the Ivy League. His enormous frame and long arms make him physically suited for the NFL, and if his technique has improved as much as it appears, he could have a solid career ahead of him.

Bryant joins backup QB Ryan Fitzpatrick of the Buffalo Bills and starting C Matt Birk of the Baltimore Ravens as the three former Harvard football players on an NFL roster.

Classmate and quarterback Chris Pizzotti signed as an undrafted free agent with the New York Jets, but was unable to beat out incumbent third-string QB Erik Ainge for a roster spot.

The Associated Press published a feature on Bryant that can be found here.

GoCrimson.com also published a piece on Bryant's roster spot here.

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