With the 2014 NFL Draft only a few months away, we reached out to some of the draft prospects we believe the Green Bay Packers could target in May. We’ve already heard from players like Michael Campanaro and Marcus Smith this week, and today, we hear from a true warrior in the trenches, Syracuse defensive lineman Jay Bromley.
Bromley was a three-year starter at defensive tackle for Syracuse. He was not only named team captain and earned All-ACC honors in 2013, but he also led Syracuse’s defense in sacks with 10 and tackles for loss with 14.5 as a senior.
Bromley’s breakout senior campaign and impressive showing in the East-West Shrine game in January has generated some buzz around the Syracuse prospect leading up to the draft.
At 6-foot-3 and 306 pounds, Bromley has prototypical size and short-area burst to play as a three-technique in a 4-3 defense or as a five-technique end in a 3-4 scheme. Bromley’s versatility and ability to generate pressure as an interior rusher makes him a valuable player for NFL teams looking to add defensive line talent in the draft.
The Packers could certainly use a player like Bromley on their defensive line.
To learn more about Bromley’s game and to hear his thoughts about possibly playing in Green Bay, I spoke with him over the phone recently and here is what he had to say.
Q. First, tell us a little bit about your background. Where did you grow up, and how did you first get into playing football?
JB: I grew up in Southside in Jamaica Queens. I was raised by my aunt and uncle. They adopted me when I was three years old. My biological father was in jail and my mother was on drugs. I only saw her sparingly. Growing up was rough. I grew up in an impoverished neighborhood. There were a lot of gangs. I was fortunate enough to not get into all that stuff. My sisters and family didn’t let me get into that stuff.
I didn’t really play football until I was in high school. I actually wanted to quit at first. It was really tough, but my mom told me to not quit. I just stuck with it and kept playing. I didn’t play much as a freshman. But I started at center as a sophomore and junior. My senior year I started as both a defensive end and left tackle.
Q. What led you to choose Syracuse?
JB: I didn’t have any scholarship offers at first. I couldn’t afford to go to Nike camps and all those things like some of the other players. I did go to a few spring camps, however. At first, it seemed I had a lot of interest there, but later I found out schools were interested in the other kids. I thought there was interest from Rutgers and Stony Brooks.
At the end of my senior year I played in the all-star game called the Empire Challenge. I was the last player picked to play in the game, but I played in the game and actually won MVP.
Once I got on that stage, I always felt like I was one of the best players. I went to practice. I worked hard and when the game came everything fell into place. The next day Syracuse called and offered me a scholarship.
My coaches told me I probably wouldn’t play at the next level because my feet were too slow, but after the all-star game, Syracuse was interested and then Penn State. I decided to go with the original offer and play at Syracuse. It seemed like the better fit.
Q. I heard you impressed some people down in Florida at the East-West Shrine game in January. Tell me a little bit about your experience there. What was the week like and how do you think you helped yourself with your performance?
JB: The experience was great to talk to so many different scouts and get with new coaches and learn some things. The defensive line coach was a great coach. Really it was just locking in and trying to focus on the game. Learning the new lingo and about offensive packages. Just going out there and playing, really.
The competition is raised and just going out there and matching it. I tried to go out there and get better each and every day. This is football and this is what I do. I’ve been doing it for years know. I just kept telling myself I’m going to learn from my mistakes and I’m going to get better. That’s my mindset.
I love watching great defensive tackles. I love watching Aaron Donald. He just earns it. He’s a great player. When we played Pitt in the season, it was a battle between two great defensive linemen who could impact the game. I feel I played well, but his team won by one point. He dominated that game. He blocked that extra point. I just love playing the game and I love competition like this.
Q. For people who may have not seen you play, describe your game for us. What kind of defensive lineman are you and what are your strengths?
JB: I am a versatile guy. I can get it done anywhere on the field. I don’t even know how I’m going to get it done sometimes, but I do. That’s defensive line play. It’s not always pretty, but you get it done. Sometimes, it’s the little things that get it done.
I love when people tell me I can’t do something. I’m relentless and I get after the quarterback. It’s all about want to. People say I can’t and I do. You may get me but you won’t stop me.
I’m a melting pot of different things at the position. I’m aggressive, but I’m alert. I have a good understanding of the formations. I’m going to watch a player’s stance and their eyes. I’m going to figure out what they’re going to do.
Every great defensive lineman can’t be blocked one-on-one. They don’t let themselves be blocked one-on-one. That’s my mentality when I step on the field. I feel like I can’t be stopped because I just get after it. I don’t have just one thing I do tremendously at, but a lot of things I do well. I have a complete game.
Q. Would you consider yourself scheme versatile player on the line between the 4-3 and 3-4?
JB: Yes, definitely. I can play the 3-4 or 4-3. I’m not big enough to play nose in a 3-4, but I can play the five-technique. I can also play the three-technique in a 4-3. I can do both. Whatever system I’m in I’ll learn. I’ll be fine. There isn’t a lot of difference, really. On the gap scheme you know you’re going to take on the runs. Being in the 3-4 allows you to be really disruptive. I can two-gap and hold my own no matter where I am on the line.
Q. You’re a player I’m hearing more and more about when it comes to the draft. Do you feel like you’re an underrated player that could really surprise some people in the NFL?
JB: Definitely. I’m really underrated. How many defensive tackles get ten sacks in a season? I had sacks against Florida State and Clemson. Both great teams. I’ve made plays. I feel like I’ve been underrated from the start. It started back from high school. I enjoy the role, honestly. I embrace it.
I went to the East-West Shrine game and surprised people. I could have been in the Senior Bowl and should have been there. I know I can play with those guys.
If I sit in a room with Aaron Donald and Timmy Jernigan I know I can hold up with them. That’s not to take away from the players they are. They’re great, but to be successful you have to believe you can be the best player on the field. That you can compete with the best. You have to be a competitor. You have to enjoy it. Love what you do and have fun with it.
Q. Do you pay much attention to all the draft coverage out there, like where you’re project to go in the draft or where you rank among your peers?
JB: I try to ignore draft coverage. I can’t even tell you where I’m projected. None of that stuff is for certain. I’m just blessed to have the opportunity to be where I am. Wherever I go as long as God is with me it’s going to be great.
Q. The Packers will be looking for defensive line help in the draft this May. How would you feel if Green Bay drafted you?
JB: I’d be excited. Playing for the Green Bay Packers and with a great organization, fanbase, and quarterback in Aaron Rodgers would be great. They’re playoff contenders every year. It would be awesome.
Q. What kind of player and person would they be getting?
JB: They’d get a mellow guy. A guy that wants to come in and work hard and learn. A guy that wants to get better and strive to be the best. A guy that will come in and do his job and not cause any problems and will get along with his teammates. A guy that wants to win.
Q. Do you know much about the Packers or their fanbase? How about their defense?
JB: I don’t know much about the city, just about the cheeseheads. I know it’s a 3-4 defense. Clay Matthews and B.J. Raji are great players. I also know about Jerel Worthy. On offense there is Rodgers and Jordy Nelson.
Q. What would you bring to their defense if they drafted you, and what could you learn from the veterans already there?
JB: I could bring a pass rush from a five-technique or defensive tackle position. I could learn about the league and what to expect. I could learn how to watch tape and analyze film and how to put maximum effort into something and be successful.
Q. Are there any NFL players you study or try to model your game after?
JB: I like to watch Ray Mcdonald and Justin Smith from San Francisco. I also like defensive ends Osi Umenyiora and Chris Canty. I love watching good defensive line play and good defensive linemen making plays.
I like to watch these players and see the moves they use and use them myself, like getting a good punch off the line. I picked that up from watching these players. I picked up the swim move from watching J.J. Watt. I like to watch these guys and just try to imitate the greats.
Q. Who have been the most influential people in your life?
JB: My coach from high school that passed away this year, Ruby Aberelos. He’s been the most influential person in my journey to the NFL. And, my other coaches from high school. They taught me how to be a young man. They saw my potential and knew I could be better. They challenged me. I also have my grandmother to thank for a lot. She pretty much raised me.
Q. Tell us a little bit more about yourself. When you’re away from football, what do you like to do in your free time?
JB: I’m just a normal guy. I like to chill. Play video games. Crack jokes. Watch sports. Watch movies. Go to events. I love poetry, actually. I also just love playing football. It’s an aspect of my life that for whatever frustration I have I can just let it out.
Q. Anything else you’d like Packers fans to know about you before I let you go?
JB: Just that I want to thank you for the opportunity to talk to me. You could have been interviewing anybody and you interviewed me. I’m thankful you took the time to get to know me better.
Career college stats
2013 – 41 tackles, 14.5 TFL, 10 sacks, 3 QB hurries, and 3 FF
2012 – 41 tackles, 7 TFL, 2.5 sacks, and a blocked kick
2011 – 32 tackles, 5.5 TFL, 1.5 sacks,
2010 – 8 tackles and 2 QB hurries
Film on Jay Bromley
Jay Bromley against Minnesota: 4 tackles, 2 TFL, sack, and a QB hurry
Jay Bromley against NC State: 4 tackles, TFL, FF, and a sack
Watch more film on Jay Bromley and other draft prospects at draftbreakdown.com.