Florida defensive tackle Taven Bryan is one a confounding evaluation. Playing 30 games over three seasons with the Gators, Bryan posted just 10.5 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks. However, Bryan also flashed some of the most physically dominant play you’ll see from a college football defensive tackle. To top it all off, Bryan went to the Scouting Combine and posted a vertical jump in the 97th percentile, a broad jump in the 98th percentile, a three cone in the 95th percentile and a short shuttle in the 80th percentile (all among defensive tackles).
Although Bryan is well behind Michigan’s Maurice Hurst as far as defensive tackles go in the 2018 NFL Draft, he is positioned to be one of, if not the next defensive tackle taken after Hurst. Although his college production doesn’t match up with the freaky plays and athleticism, he’s got a profile worth taking a shot on at the top of this year’s draft.
It isn’t hyperbolic when I say Bryan has the best get off I have ever seen in a prospect coming out of college. It’s absolutely unbelievable:
On top of an elite get off, Bryan has the short-area quickness to move sideline-to-sideline and make plays on runs to the outside.
Granted, Bryan is a prospect needing refinement at the next level, but if a team can put him in a one-gap system, he will thrive. Bryan’s combination of burst off the snap and quickness will have him showing up in the opponent’s backfield regularly.
Much like Bryan’s game as a whole, there are moments of utter brilliance when Bryan plays with power. He has the physical ability to simply rag doll opposing linemen to the ground:
At times it looks as though you’ve put a Division I athlete across from a child playing Pop Warner:
Bryan’s ability to generate push from the interior will be an encouraging sign for the team that selects him hoping to mold him into an every-down defender. This display of functional strength could absolutely translate to holding up inside against the run:
Hand usage and technical ability is where Bryan’s game will need to develop most if he’s going to reach his full potential. Often times, Bryan will struggle to disengage if he fails to win initially. Bryan’s legs will move 100 miles per hour while his hands do nothing at all. (This is a poor camera angle, but you can see Bryan doing nothing to get off the block.)
Luckily for Bryan, he was able to win in college simply by beating his man off the snap. In the NFL, he won’t be able to do it with any sort of consistency. This is simply getting inside the guard’s shoulder, dipping a bit and moving with pure will and determination:
Will and determination isn’t going to get you very far playing across from high-level NFL offensive linemen, but I’ll be damned if it isn’t fun to watch:
At 6-5 and 290 pounds in a lean, athletic frame, it would be completely understandable if Bryan played high and with poor balance. But instead, he explodes off the snap low and maintains good leverage despite his height. Much like his ability to generate push from the interior, this speaks to the potential for Bryan to become a consistent three-down player on the inside.
Although Bryan possesses the length and athletic ability to makeup for it, he tended to explode off the ball, knife through gaps only to work himself past the ball carrier and leave his gap exposed. A glaring flaw in his game as a run defender at this juncture, but something almost any team would live with in a 97th percentile athlete.
Overall, Bryan is a superb athlete who didn’t produce at the level his athletic ability and flash plays signal he should have. At 6-5 and 290 pounds with long arms and an explosive get off, Bryan has the potential to kick outside to defensive end in certain situations. Although he isn’t as polished as Maurice Hurst or as staunch against the run as Vita Vea, Bryan has the profile that will make him well worth a first round pick towards the back end of the draft. With Malik McDowell’s future in doubt, Bryan could fit onto the Seattle Seahawks roster in a similar role as they had planned for McDowell.