2018 NFL Draft: Why Florida DT Taven Bryan could be the Falcons' first-round pick

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(AP photo)

*Editor's note: This is the fourth of seven prospect profiles who the Falcons could select with the 26th overall pick in the first round.  *

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. – The Falcons have one of the league's most talented rosters, but there are a few positions that they may target with the No. 26 overall pick in the upcoming NFL Draft.

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At the forefront of those positions is defensive tackle. The Falcons lost starter Dontari Poe in free agency, and they have not opted to re-sign Ahtyba Rubin or Courtney Upshaw at this point, although that doesn't indicate they won't in the future. The return of Jack Crawford from injury will be a welcome one, but it's clear the Falcons need to add depth and talent along the interior of the defensive line.

There are a number of interesting defensive tackles in this year's draft class, and Florida's Taven Bryan is a player many mock drafts have linked to the Falcons in the first round. NFL.com analyst Bucky Brooks is among the latest to predict the Falcons will take Bryan in the upcoming draft, here is what he had to say about his choice:

"Dan Quinn loves athletic defensive linemen with non-stop motors. Bryan fits the bill as a dynamic athlete with the size, strength and quickness to overpower blockers at the point of attack."

During his time at Florida, the 6-foot-4, 291-pound Bryan didn't stuff the stat sheet, finishing with just 10.5 tackles for a loss and 5.5 sacks in three seasons. At the NFL combine, however, Bryan wowed teams with an exceptional workout that included benching 225 pounds 30 times, a 35-inch vertical and running the 40-yard dash in 4.98 seconds.

Bryan flashed the level of athleticism at times during his career with the Gators, and his first-step quickness is among the best of the interior defenders in this draft class.

While his first-step quickness may be the thing that immediately stands out about Bryan, he doesn't have to win with that trait alone. Bryan's proven that he can transfer that first step into an effective bull rush to beat linemen with leverage and power, especially in one-on-one situations.

via GIPHY If the Falcons are looking for an athlete to pair with Grady Jarrett along the defensive line, Bryan is among the most athletic defensive tackles in the draft. That raw athletic ability didn't translate into significant on-field production, but with NFL coaching and veteran leadership, Bryan could tap into his large potential.

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