RENTON, Wash. — The Seattle Seahawks addressed one of their biggest needs with one of the NFL draft’s most interesting names, taking former Cincinnati cornerback Coby Bryant on Saturday with their fourth-round pick.
And yes, the newest member of Seattle’s secondary is named after the NBA legend. So is there any pressure in being named after one of the greatest basketball players of all time?
“Not really pressure,” Bryant said on a conference call with Seattle-area reporters, “more of a privilege, honestly. It just means I have to work twice as hard to live up to that name and set a name for myself as well too and, most importantly, represent him as well as I can.”
Bryant explained that his parents were massive Kobe Bryant fans from afar while growing up in Ohio. They gave their son’s name a different spelling so it would have some individuality.
“My parents loved Kobe Bryant and everything he brought to the table, not only as an athlete but as a human being himself and how he carried himself,” Bryant said. “So that’s somebody that they ultimately knew right away that that was somebody they wanted to name me after.”
The Seahawks needed to bolster the cornerback position but didn’t have a chance to take either of the draft’s top two options, Derek Stingley Jr. and Ahmad Gardner, who were both gone by the time Seattle made its first pick at No. 9. Instead, they landed Gardner’s college teammate with the 109th overall pick.
They had a formal meeting with Bryant at the scouting combine and a Zoom call a couple of weeks later in which they had him watch film with Karl Scott, their new defensive passing game coordinator and defensive backs coach.
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“I knew I did good after the interview,” Bryant said. “Lo and behold, I got the call.”
In addition to an interesting name, Bryant brings a ton of production and experience to Seattle’s secondary. He won the Jim Thorpe Award last season as the nation’s top defensive back while playing opposite Gardner, who went fourth overall to the New York Jets after the Houston Texans took Stingley one pick earlier. The 23-year-old Bryant recorded nine interceptions and 35 passes defended over his four seasons as a college starter.
Bryant described himself as a smart, physical cornerback who makes a lot of plays on the ball.
“I would say my ball skills are the best in the draft,” he said.
As for his basketball skills?
“I would say I’m more of a dunker,” Bryant said. “I dunk real well. I can shoot a little bit because I’m a lefty … but other than that, I really can’t do too much.”
Bryant’s Cincinnati teammates sometimes called him “Red Mamba,” in a play on Kobe Bryant’s nickname Black Mamba, or Bean, which was the basketball player’s middle name. He began last season wearing No. 7 but switched to No. 8 for the Cotton Bowl because he wanted to honor his namesake.
“I was thankful that coach [Luke] Fickell understood that and allowed me to wear No. 8,” he said.
Bryant joins a cornerback group that also includes Sidney Jones (re-signed), Tre Brown (returning from knee surgery) and Artie Burns (added in free agency). Seattle lost D.J. Reed in free agency.