INDIANAPOLIS — When Natrona County graduate Taven Bryan showed up to Landow Performance to train this offseason, former Wyoming offensive lineman Ryan Cummings mistook him for another offensive lineman himself.
“He looks like an O-lineman,” Cummings said of the defensive tackle, who played college football at Florida. “He’s just thick. He’s big.”
Johnny Townsend, a Gator teammate of Bryan’s, called him “one of the most talented guys you’d ever seen in terms of a football player.”
“He was just gifted athletically,” Townsend said.
Sunday, Bryan got to put his athleticism to the test, participating with other defensive linemen and linebackers in on-field drills at the NFL Scouting Combine.
The 291-pound Bryan had the second-best three-cone drill time (7.12 seconds) among defensive linemen, who are classified as a separate category from edge rushers at the Combine. He had the fourth-best vertical jump (35.0 inches) and the fourth-best broad jump (119.0 inches) among defensive linemen. Bryan’s 20-yard shuttle time of 4.48 tied for sixth among defensive linemen. His 30 bench press reps tied for seventh among defensive linemen, and he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.98 seconds, 14th among defensive linemen.
The former Mustang, who left Florida after his junior season, is projected by some to be a first-round pick in next month’s NFL Draft, which would make him the first Wyoming-born player drafted since 2011 (Chris Prosinski).
Bryan, who has said he would be OK with playing any defensive line position, set the bar high for himself when it comes to interior linemen he tried to emulate.
“J.J. Watt would be one of them,” he said. “Technician. ... Some of his techniques are just awesome. I like Ndamukong Suh. He’s a very aggressive strong guy. Gets after it, really mean dude, good dude to model a game after.”
Some of Bryan’s numbers stack up well with the former. As NFL Research pointed out, Bryan is just 3/8 of an inch shorter than Watt was at his Combine. Bryan is one pound heavier, he recorded four fewer bench press repetitions, his 10-yard split was .03 seconds faster, and his 40-yard dash was 0.07 slower. Watt had 0.24 seconds on Bryan in the three-cone drill and a slightly better time in the 20-yard shuttle, but Bryan’s broad jump trailed Watt’s by just an inch, and his vertical was only two inches off.
Cummings said that Bryan told him his film from Florida was bad.
“I’m looking at it like, ‘You’re crazy, right?’” Cummings said.
That jibes with Townsend’s experience in Gainesville, Florida.
“He’s a perfectionist,” he said. “He’s very humble, and he goes about everything very professionally. He holds himself to a very high standard, because he knows he’s good, and we all know he’s good. I’m excited to see where he ends up this year.”
Cummings said he had heard some favorable things from NFL teams in regards to his athleticism.
“They really like my get off and how I attack and I’m aggressive,” he said.
A look at Bryan’s tape makes it hard not to side with Cummings. Bryan spoke Saturday about what allows him to get off the line of scrimmage so quickly.
“Some of it is natural ability, but what I’ve really found that helps me personally is that I practice it day in, day out,” he said. “No matter what I do, whether it’s a walk-through, full pads, I always work on my get-off. My goal is to always be the first one out. I feel like you get off the ball like that it gives a special opportunity to kind shock the O-lineman and it causes a little bit of space.”
It’s not the only way he’s shocked an offensive lineman.