Rising defensive lineman talent Taven Bryan leaves Florida early for NFL Draft

New Florida coach Dan Mullen was announced as the head coach of the Gators on Nov. 26, and less than a month later, he lost one of his best players. Defensive tackle Taven Bryan announced Monday on Twitter that he will forgo his senior season in Gainesville and enter the NFL Draft.

Bryan had 40 tackles, six for loss and four sacks as a junior. The Casper, Wyoming-native was ranked No. 20 in Chris Trapasso's top 20 NFL prospect rankings after Week 13 of the college football season. That was after the loss to Florida State in which Bryan had two tackles for loss.

Trapasso noted that Bryan's versatility as end or tackle in either 3-4 or 4-3 systems makes him an intriguing prospect at the next level, so much so that his teammates refer to him as "J.J. Watt," and Trapasso sees similarities in how he plays to the Houston Texans star.

Florida's defense in 2018 will be led by new coordinator Todd Grantham with defensive end Jabari Zuniga and Cece Jefferson -- as long as Jefferson, a junior, doesn't jump to the NFL early as well -- leading the charge up front. Florida went 5-7 (3-5 SEC) in 2017, fired coach Jim McElwain in October and will open the 2018 season Charleston Southern on Sept. 1.

Bryan is the second Florida junior to depart for the NFL as star wide receiver Antonio Callaway, who sat out the 2017 season on an indefinite suspension after being charged with felony credit card fraud, has hired an agent.

College Football Writer

Barrett Sallee has been a member of the sports media in various aspects since 2001. He is currently a college football writer for CBS Sports, analyst for CBS Sports HQ and host for the SiriusXM college... Full Bio

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