Florida has had a defensive player taken in the first round of the NFL draft each of the last five years, and that streak will continue as Taven Bryan was taken in the first round with the No. 29 pick by the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Taven Bryan found his way to Florida from Wyoming
Former Gators head coach Will Muschamp recruited Bryan out of Casper, Wyo., and later his future position coach, Chris Rumph, would playfully dub him the “Wyoming Wild Man.”
But while reporters were always fascinated with Bryan’s background, he never gave away much in interviews. After his pro day workout he revealed that growing up he was not much of an NFL fan, preferring to entertain himself outdoors.
His father Brandy Bryan was a Navy SEAL in the early 1990s and set the tone for Bryan’s physical training.
Taven Bryan didn’t become a full-time starter until his final season
Bryan both tantalized and frustrated his coaches early in his collegiate career, not always showing the focus needed to deliver on his obvious physical potential.
He didn’t become a full-time starter until his redshirt junior season in 2017 when he recorded 40 tackles, 6 tackles for loss, 4 sacks and 3 quarterback hurries. He received second-team All-SEC honors from the Associated Press and was a consistent highlight on a team that overall struggled its way to a 4-7 finish.
Bryan had played behind fellow NFL prospect Caleb Brantley prior to 2017.
Taven Bryan has drawn comparisons to J.J. Watt
The comparisons to Houston Texas star J.J. Watt started last summer with a Bleacher Report feature on Bryan and his background.
Many NFL analysts have reiterated that comparison during the build-up to the draft, strengthened by the similarities between the players’ size and combine numbers.
— NFL Research (@NFLResearch) March 4, 2018
Taven Bryan was a weight room legend at Florida
Bryan’s Florida teammates talked about his weight room prowess and raw strength as if they were telling Paul Bunyan-esque tales.
“He’s amazing. He could lift the whole weight room if he wanted to,” Gators running back Lamical Perine said last summer. “We would have a full workout, he would go in after everyone was done and walking out. He’ll go in and have his own workout.”
Said Florida defensive end Keivonnis Davis: “Squat, bench, curl, whatever it is, that man is a beast. I’m telling you, he’s a beast. He’s a beast, like he’s a real-life beast. He’s a monster. I tried working out with him over the summer, but I was sore the next day. He’s a monster. It’s crazy.”
Taven Bryan said he didn’t expect Jacksonville to take him
Bryan was the only defensive lineman to work out at Florida’s pro day, which meant he got one-on-one attention from Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli and Philadelphia Eagles defensive line coach Chris Wilson.
He did visit with the Jaguars during the pre-draft process as well, but he says he didn’t expect the team to select him.
“Honestly I didn’t think you guys would pick me at all because you guys already have a bunch of great players, a bunch of Pro Bowlers, a bunch of great athletes,” Bryan said in a post-draft interview posted by the Jaguars. “I honestly didn’t see it coming at all. I saw the Jaguars and was like, ‘I’m not going to get picked.'”