"I feel like if I wouldn’t have got injured this year, it probably would have been a whole different story going into the draft," he said. "But there’s certain things in life that you can’t control and God has a plan for you."
Bryant broke his fibula and dislocated his ankle in a Sept. 28 win against Wisconsin. The Ohio State safety missed the final nine games of his senior season, forcing him to watch from the sideline as the undefeated and second-ranked Buckeyes lost their final two games.
Bryant requested a medical hardship to play another year of college football, but the NCAA said no. And so he entered the draft with little to show for his final collegiate season — not an ideal audition for a career when you’re already undersized at 5 feet 10, 193 pounds.
"It’s been tough, I feel like, just because just this whole year has kind of been a struggle with first the injury, and then I just know that going into the draft it was going to be a struggle with someone eventually picking me up," Bryant said minutes after St. Louis selected him. "I waited it out and I’m just happy to be a St. Louis Ram right now."
Bryant was the fourth defensive back the Rams picked, following Lamarcus Joyner (second round), Maurice Alexander (fourth) and E.J. Gaines (sixth). He will face a challenge to earn a roster spot in a secondary that returns four starters.
"He’s a good little football player," Rams coach Jeff Fisher said after the draft.
Bryant said he was surprised to be picked by the Rams, but maybe he shouldn’t have been. He had a one-on-one conversation with Fisher following his April 30 pro day at Ohio State.
"We were sitting there in the hallway," Bryant said. "We talked for about six or seven minutes. He was just telling me little things like he liked my game. And he told me the second-best thing in life behind having a child is getting a call from an NFL team telling you you’re part of that organization."
The next time Bryant and Fisher spoke, Bryant had just found out that the Rams were going to pick him. It was a dream come true for a player who had encountered some rather large obstacles and was just hoping for a shot. But at the same time, he believes his talent merited a higher selection.
"I feel like I was definitely a steal in this draft," he said, "because I know my talents and I know exactly what I can do on the football field."
A few days after the draft, Bryant was in St. Louis with the rest of his new teammates. Not long after that, he was out on the field with the rest of the Rams’ rookies — he started out wearing No. 42 but was changed to No. 26 after running back Daryl Richardson was released — and then going through offseason workouts with the team’s veterans.
Bryant already had a supporter in another Buckeye. That would be middle linebacker James Laurinaitis, who already knew Bryant and had talked to OSU defensive coordinator Luke Fickell about him.
"I know Christian Bryant, and talking to the defensive coordinator at Ohio State, we’re still friends from when I played there," Laurinaitis said. "He said when Christian went down, he thought that their defense lost their heartbeat and that he was the toughest guy that maybe he’s ever coached."