Each day leading up to the 2018 NFL draft, I’ll break down one of my top 50 prospects. In some cases, we had to make tough omissions because of injuries, poor pre-draft workouts or incomplete information. For more complete scouting reports on all the prospects, check out the Pro Football Weekly 2018 Draft Guide, which is available for order now.
22. Florida DT Taven Bryan
6-foot-4, 291 pounds
Key stats: Bryan only started 14-of-36 college games.
The skinny: The son of a Navy SEAL, Bryan was a three-star recruit in high school from Casper, Wyoming. Most programs looking at Bryan were west of the Mississippi River, but the prep two-way lineman ended up at Florida because former head coach Will Muschamp was the only FBS coach who would promise to play him on the defensive side of the ball.
Bryan redshirted in 2014. In 2015, he played in 12 games (one start) and totaled 10 tackles (1.5 for loss) and ran back a fumble recovery 48 yards against Florida Atlantic. As a sophomore, Bryan played in 13 games (two starts) in 2016 and totaled 17 tackles (three for loss), one sack, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries.
As a junior in 2017, Bryan started all 11 games (Gators had a game canceled because of weather) and totaled 40 tackles (six for loss), four sacks and was named second-team all-SEC. Bryan declared for the NFL draft after the season.
Upside: Outstanding athletic testing numbers — 40-yard dash (4.98 seconds), 10-yard split (1.68), vertical jump (35 inches), broad jump (119), 3-cone drill (7.12 seconds) and short shuttle (4.48 seconds) all put him in rare air for a 290-plus pound player. Nice height and a frame to add bulk. Can shape his body according to the team he lands with and where he might fit. Squats 600 pounds and has a max bench of 425 (did 30 reps of 225 pounds at the combine). Very low body-fat percentage. Strength development stalled under former coach Jim McElwain’s staff — room to get even stronger.
Often the first guy off the snap. Will induce false starts against jittery offensive linemen. At least once a game, it seems, he knifes into the backfield for an eye-opening penetration. Shows excellent motor — runs hot for four quarters. Often saw additional blocking attention. Tracks down screens from behind and will make backside run stops.
Can bench press offensive linemen and walk them back into the backfield. Feet keep churning through initial contact. Very good on stunts and twists where he can surprise blockers with his quickness and burst. Tallied a ton of pressures that don’t show up in box scores and can disrupt timing blocks easily with his athletic ability. Watch Bryan (No. 93) get small, rip through the block attempt of 6-foot-6, 320-pound Kentucky OG Logan Stenberg and then show the strength to finish off the impressive sack:
Had to wait his turn on talented Gators defensive line. Still relatively new to the position. Clean medical history. Best football theoretically should be in front of him.
Downside: Developmental talent — not instant coffee. Might need to have reduced role early on before bearing fruit. Unpolished player who could stand to be paired with a veteran DL coach to refine technique and push him further. Could stand to use a year reshaping his body, depending on team fit and role. Lean body mass, below-average arm length and smallish hands.
Positional awareness is below-average right now. Will take the cheese on screens and misdirection plays. Still needs to sniff out the ball better. Case in point: On this play against Florida State, Bryan shoots the gap pretty much unblocked and is right there to make a play on the draw but never sees the ball and lets the runner scoot right by without even getting a paw on him for a big gain:
Not a refined pass rusher. Can lack a plan and will run himself out of plays. Pad level rises at times, giving blockers a bigger target. Hands will stop moving when sparring with offensive linemen and can get stuck on blocks with his short wingspan and occasionally sloppy technique. Lack of consistent production is a legitimate concern.
Ejected in fourth quarter of 2016 SEC title game loss to Alabama (a game the Gators were losing by 24 points at the time) for bodyslamming RB Joshua Jacobs.
Best-suited destination: At Florida, Bryan was primarily a 3-technique in a one-gap system, although he could play over the nose in passing downs or be tried as a two-gapping end in the NFL. Ideally, he would land on a team where he’s not expected to start immediately and learn from a patient defensive line coach who can harness his immense talent. Among the teams that could be good fits for Bryan include the Seattle Seahawks, New Orleans Saints, Minnesota Vikings, Atlanta Falcons, Buffalo Bills, Detroit Lions, Carolina Panthers, Dallas Cowboys, Oakland Raiders, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Indianapolis Colts and Washington.
Quotable: “I would love to see what a guy like [former NFL defensive line coach] Jim Washburn would do with him. There are plenty of D-line coaches who will bang on the table and say, ‘Give me a year with this guy.’ His shortcomings … they’re teachable. He could have been a top-10 pick had he gone back [to Florida].” — Southeast area scout
Player comp: Darnell Dockett
Expected draft range: Late first round
50. Oregon RB Royce Freeman
49. South Dakota State TE Dallas Goedert
48. LSU DE-LB Arden Key
47. Ohio State C Billy Price
46. Alabama S Ronnie Harrison
45. Oklahoma State QB Mason Rudolph
44. Texas A&M S Armani Watts
43. South Carolina TE Hayden Hurst
42. UCF CB Mike Hughes
41. USC RB Ronald Jones II
40. Maryland WR D.J. Moore
39. UTEP OG Will Hernandez
38. Stanford DT Harrison Phillips
37. Ohio State DE Sam Hubbard
36. Stanford S Justin Reid
35. Oregon OT Tyrell Crosby
34. SMU WR Courtland Sutton
33. Penn State TE Mike Gesicki
32. Colorado CB Isaiah Oliver
31. Georgia OL Isaiah Wynn
30. Texas A and M WR Christian Kirk
29. Alabama LB Rashaan Evans
28. Alabama WR Calvin Ridley
27. Michigan DT Maurice Hurst
26. Texas OT Connor Williams
25. Georgia RB Sony Michel
24. LSU RB Derrius Guice
23. Boise State LB Leighton Vander Esch