We know that Florida DT Taven Bryan is the hot name around the Falcons campfire, and it looks like the team got some time in with him before Thursday’s big night.
D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that the Falcons worked Bryan out Wednesday, along with other Florida Gators (RB Mark Thompson’s name popped up previously).
If you’re curious, other potential Florida draftees are CB Duke Dawson, WR Antonio Callaway, TE DeAndre Goolsby, S Nick Washington, K Eddie Pineiro and P Johnny Townsend. Any one of those guys, hypothetically, could’ve met and worked out with Atlanta, too.
Ledbetter speculates that DTs Vita Vea and Da’Ron Payne won’t be available at the team’s 26th pick, and that Bryan will likely be available when the Falcons pick.
Some other analysts believe Bryan could go higher in the draft, which would necessitate a trade up to get the Florida DT. Teams like the Chargers, Seahawks, Cowboys and Lions could all be enticed by Bryan’s physical abilities and intangibles and could feel they’d be the coaching staff to get his potential where it needs to be.
D-Led’s got a nice writeup on the defensive tackle class and how it relates to the Falcons on that link, so give it a whirl if you’ve got some time.
We’ve shared with you Eric’s scouting report on Bryan, so let’s hear from our own Charles McDonald, who wrote up a post about Bryan over at Football Outsiders.
The physical flashes are very real and will cause any coach to ponder what Bryan could turn into with the right help. On the other hand, Bryan frequently shows an alarming lack of nuance and feel for the game of football. Right now his game is similar to where Ra’Shede Hageman and Robert Nkemdiche were in their respective draft classes. Maybe Bryan will be the one to cash on his otherworldly talents -- he doesn’t have the off-field concerns like Hageman and Nkemdiche, but his game has similar deficiencies and shortcomings. With the right staff and tons of patience, Bryan could be great, but at the same time his weaknesses can be break the backbone of defensive structure.
Outside of his athletic possibilities, the enticing part about Bryan is that he can be both an interior defensive lineman as well as a guy that could play some defensive end. If Bryan lives up to his potential, he could help do what Dontari Poe was doing in the middle alongside Grady Jarrett, and give the pass rush a little of the pop that Adrian Clayborn is leaving behind. His measurables have made some light J.J. Watt comparisons pop up. It’d be mightily intriguing to get him on Atlanta’s DL and see what he could do. His ceiling is irresistible to think about.
But, the worries are also there, and are warranted. If Bryan doesn’t live up to the hype and continues to showcase raw potential, especially into years two and three, it’d leave Atlanta with a continued trouble spot at DT. We should note that Hageman began to come on strong for Atlanta before his release for off-field issues, so perhaps that’s some proof Atlanta has what it takes to get out of Bryan what he’s capable of.
Bryan has felt like the obvious pick since January, when rumors out of the Senior Bowl pegged Atlanta as highly-interested in what he could do.
The team’s first pick is still a mystery, but, no doubt, Bryan’s the favorite in the clubhouse right now. Perhaps this has been as simple as it really seems all along, and Bryan’s just their guy. Maybe the team really is that flexible with where this pick will go. Maybe they’ll trade up to get a Vea or a Payne, or just opt to trade out and get more picks for later. We’ll know soon enough.