GAINESIVILLE, Fla. — Former Florida defensive tackle Taven Bryan chose not to run the 40-yard dash at the Gators’ pro day after running a 4.98 in the 40 at the NFL Combine.
“Tape’s really what matters, honestly, and I feel like I have really exceptional tape, especially for a 4-3 defense,” Bryan said.
The 6-foot-4, 290-pound Bryan was the highest projected prospect of the 18 players who took part in Florida’s pro day on Wednesday morning.
Close to 50 NFL coaches and scouts attended the event, including Cincinnati Bengals coach Marvin Lewis and Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator Rob Marinelli.
Bryan, a projected first-round pick, has drawn comparisons to JJ Watt based on his athletic ability at defensive tackle.
Rob Rang of NFLDraftScout.com ranks Bryan as the 21st-best prospect in the draft, and projects in his mock draft that Bryan will be taken with the 23rd overall pick by the Los Angeles Rams. Dane Brugler of NFLDraftScout.com has the Detroit Lions taking him with the 20th selection in his mock draft.
After recording only 27 total tackles in his first two seasons at Florida, Bryan enjoyed a breakout junior season with 40 tackles, six tackles for losses and four sacks while often facing double-teams.
Bryan said he hasn’t patterned his game after any specific NFL players.
“I can do things certain other people can’t do and they can do things that I can’t do,” Bryan said. “So, you know, you’ll look at them, see where they excel, see where maybe they have a couple of tricks they use. Maybe look at something like that, but really as to pattern after somebody, I would say no.”
Bryan did take part in a defensive line drill conducted by Marinelli in which he displayed a quick burst off a three-point stance, then weaved through and knocked down tackling dummies.
“I feel like I’m really good,” Bryan said. “You know, I never get blown off the ball. I always hold my gap. Pretty stout for 290. I don’t know if there’s anything I need to prove.”
Florida’s Pro Day also was about second chances for two former players. Wide receiver Antonio Callaway was invited to participate despite sitting out the 2017 season for his involvement in a credit card fraud team.
The 5-foot-11, 193-pound Callaway was Florida’s most dynamic playmaking threat in 2015 and 2016, posting 89 catches for 1,399 yards and seven touchdowns in his first two college seasons. Callaway also had two punt returns for touchdowns as a freshman and a kickoff return for a touchdown as a sophomore.
“That experience right there, taking football, me away from the game I love, it humbled me,” Callaway said. “It just showed me how much more I loved the game than I thought I loved it.”
Callaway also was cited for marijuana possession in May of 2017 and was accused of sexual assault in a Title IX investigation in December of 2015, although he eventually was exonerated.
Despite the off-field issues, Callaway is still projected to be drafted. NFLDraftScout.com ranks him as the 17th-best wide receiver prospect in the draft and the 136th-best prospect overall. The site projects him as a fourth-round pick and characterized him as “a frightening combination of talent and trouble.”
“I’m not this bad person that the media portrays,” Callaway said. “I mean, I can’t stress it enough. I just gotta … actions. Let my actions speak for me.”
Former Gator All-American safety Matt Elam, who formerly played for the Baltimore Ravens, also took part in Florida’s Pro Day.
Elam, 26, did not have his contract renewed by the Ravens and sat out last season after being arrested on drug possession charges in February of 2017. The charges eventually were dropped.
“I’ve been trying to get myself right mentally and — to show these people that I deserve a second chance and the opportunity to do this game that I love, that I’ve been doing all my life,” Elam said.
Elam ran the 40-yard dash on Wednesday in the 4.4-4.5 second range.