INDIANAPOLIS — Taven Bryan said Saturday that he wanted to show “a little bit of personality and athleticism” at the NFL Scouting Combine. He got the first part out of the way Saturday. Sunday, he’ll try to take care of the second.
Bryan is a Natrona County graduate who attended Florida and earned second-team all-conference honors as a defensive tackle before choosing to leave the Gators after his junior year for the NFL Draft.
Bryan is considered by some to be a first-round prospect in the upcoming draft. Sunday, he will run through on-field drills with other defensive linemen at Lucas Oil Stadium.
“It’s pretty surreal,” he said. “It’s kind of an awesome experience, I’ve put probably two months specifically for these two days, honestly, both the field drills and the bench. This moment? All the decisions I’ve made ‘til now have accumulated, and they’ve got me where I am today.”
But first, he had some charisma to display.
After speaking about the benefits of training at altitude in Colorado, Bryan was asked if he had met with the Denver Broncos.
“I have not,” he said.
“Do you plan on speaking with them?” the reporter continued.
“Um,” Bryan said, lifting up his maroon Combine jacket and peeking down at a schedule stored somewhere inside for about 5 seconds. “I do not believe so. Not today.”
After some laughs, another reporter asked to see if he could check inside his jacket to see if he had an appointment with Green Bay.
“I don’t know if I could do that,” he said with a laugh. He didn’t check, despite the reporter jokingly offering him $1 for the favor.
At Florida, Bryan developed a reputation on the field as well. His former defensive line coach at Florida, Chris Rumph, dubbed him the “Wyoming Wildman.”
“I always get questions like what’s it like in Wyoming,” he said. “It’s kind of the same as everywhere else, nothing too exciting. It’s not like we ride horses to school or anything like that.”
Bryan’s wildness was both a pro and con on the field, he said.
“I feel I’m a very aggressive D-lineman, get off the ball, try to get my hands on some people,” he said. “I think that plays into a benefit for me. A downfall? When I know I’m supposed to be not extending as much, sometimes I still do it. I’d like to be able to moderate my aggressiveness a little more.”
Bryan recorded six tackles for loss as a junior, four of which were sacks. He had 37 tackles, 17 solo, in 10 games. He said he’d be open to playing either inside or outside at the next level.
“Honestly I don’t have a true preference, both of them have their advantages and disadvantages,” he said. “With the three-technique, you get a lot more 1-on-1s than you would normally at any other position. It’s kind of helpful when you want to make more plays. End is another good one I like.
“The nose? Nose (guard), you’ve got to be a solid teammate, man. You’ve got to hit that double team every time and, really, it kind of sucked, honestly. But you’ve got to do it, man.”
Wherever he plays, Bryan said teams have told him that perfecting his technique will be key as he prepares for the next level.
“They say I need to work on some of the small things, like I said, doing dumb things,” he said. “You can’t be doing those at the next level, because the next level everybody is just so much better.
“... Definitely don’t spin in the run game. That’s not a good thing, I’ve gotten caught a couple times doing that.”
While Bryan said he hadn’t been asked any particularly outlandish questions, he did have one team ask him to compete in a staring contest — an exercise that made headlines earlier this week when Texas punter Michael Dickson said he was asked the same thing.
“They wanted me to stare at a thing without blinking, see how long I could go without blinking,” Bryan said. “... Honestly, I think I failed it. So I think I failed it. (The) team is definitely not interested at this point.”
Luckily, his efforts to show he has a personality are going just fine.