Taven Bryan is going to be an NFL player. There is almost no doubt about it. Bryan has the desired athletic traits. He is elite in most of the areas that would translate to NFL success.
Finding a place for Taven Bryan
The tape matches the physical profile as well. Taven Bryan is explosive. The burst to shoot up the vertical and destroy explosion scores for his size shows up clear off of the snap. Watch the play below. Bryan is lined up between the center and guard. He is able to get off and into the gap between the guard and the tackle. The tackle tries to get over to help, but Bryan has built up way too much momentum. Bryan cannot be stopped and is forcing a quick pass.
On the right side, the combination of guard and tackle is not nearly enough. Bryan is able to take up so much attention that he also springs the defensive end stunting inside free with a clear push on a stumbling guard.
Bryan uses the combination of his burst with power, length and hand usage to make plays in the backfield. He is able to fight through power and make the play behind the line of scrimmage.
This is helpful in the run but has begun to show up in the pass rush, which is what has boosted his NFL draft stock. In the two years prior, Bryan had four sacks combined. However, in 2017, he put up six. Along with the burst off of the ball, Bryan shows enough bend and balance to turn the corner on the guard and get inside the pocket, forcing the sack by his third step back.
Along with the bend, Bryan shows the relentlessness and stamina to chase the opposition downfield. Bryan is able to explode through the guard, make contact with the running back, break free and chase down a more mobile quarterback from behind. Some of Bryans best plays come in chasing backs and quarterbacks laterally and down the field, something most defensive lineman cannot accomplish.
Finding a fit
However, with the ridiculous athletic traits and tape to match it comes the question of size and fit. As shown, his 291 pounds would put him in just 13th percentile amongst defensive tackles to participate in the combine. He is absolutely undersized in this area.
It does not help that one of his bigger weaknesses is pad level. Watch the play below. He is lined up over the right guard, and bursts inside to take on the center. However, as he moves, watch his pad level. His head and shoulders peak over the centers, showing that he is losing the battle for leverage. It does not matter who quick you are off of the line, if that momentum is going towards springing into the air rather than driving into the backfield, it is wasted movement.
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Add that to his small size and questionable instincts in diagnoses, and you can see him taken out of plays in situations that would not be expected from him.
Below, the left guard is able to stand up Bryan off of the ball. Without his momentum, the tackle is able to come in and seal Bryan off, forcing a hole to the left side.
Again, Bryan springs off of the ball but is too high out of his stance. The guard is able to easily get his hands on Bryan and essentially guide him away from the play.
In the play below, it is not even a pad level issue. He just is not strong enough to consistently hold his own in the trenches against bigger guards and centers.
His inability to diagnose shows as he can get momentum going to where the offensive line would like him to go at times. This makes sealing him out of runs and taking him out of plays easier than anticipated.
Bryan is going to struggle with power on the interior. His physical attributes and his tape show that as much as they show his explosion. However, compared to more defensive ends, who play outside, potentially in a five-technique, he fits in terms of frame much more.
Bryan still shows athletically to fit in well with players who play a bit more outside. He does not have the explosion as some speed rushers but has the size to hold up against the run better.
A 3-4 team looking for a five-technique may be the best fit for Taven Bryan in the NFL. His explosion will show, and his pad level will be less of an issue against higher standing tackles than crouched down interior lineman. He has the speed, length and bend to pass rusher, and has the burst and explosion to hold his ground in the running game.
Where does he fit?
Taven Bryan is going to be scheme versatile. That sort of talent and athleticism he brings helps that. However, while the statistics may be better in the trenches as a three-tech, the downs are going to come with it and force coaches to react. In a five-technique, it is an alignment he is not completely used to. However, given his profile and playing style, this could be just as easy of a transition as anything else.