D. Led’s Mock Draft 3.0: Falcons select the ‘Wyoming Wildman’ 

On our path to the draft, we’ll drop the latest mock draft from D. Orlando Ledbetter, our Atlanta Falcons Beat writer, each Friday. Here’s version 3.0 for the NFL Draft, which is set for April 26-28 in Arlington, Texas.

Here in the Mock Draft 3.0, with the 26th pick in the NFL draft the Atlanta Falcons will select Florida defensive tackle Taven Bryan.

It’s a “needs” pick as the Falcons must replace defensive tackle Dontari Poe, who left for Carolina and a boatload of cash in free agency.

After free agency and a quick glance at the depth chart, the Falcons have pretty clear draft needs. 

The Falcons need a defensive tackle, wide receiver, guard, fullback and linebacker out of the draft or from the undrafted rookie pack.

Falcons coach Dan Quinn has intensely studied the defensive tackles. 

The Falcons have already met with Washington defensive tackle Vita Vea and Alabama’s Da’Ron Payne. Both of those defensive tackles will have new homes before the Falcons select.

Quinn likes the depth in this draft at the defensive tackle position, but Bryan would be too hard to pass on.

Bryan, 22, is 6-foot-5 and 291 pounds. He runs the 40-yard dash in 4.98 seconds. 

He grew in Wyoming helping his father, Brandy, a former Navy SEALS, with the family construction business. He’ll fit in the Falcons brotherhood theme and also has some Navy SEALS training from his upbringing.

At Florida, he redshirted in 2014 before playing three seasons and entering the draft after his redshirt junior season. He earned the nickname “Wyoming Wildman” while amassing 10.5 tackles for losses and 5.5 sacks over his career. 

“Overall, Bryan is still in the development phase with his rush plan and run-defending skills, but he has the athleticism of a defensive end, the power of a nose tackle,” wrote Dane Brugler in his 2018 NFL Draft Guide.

Bryan has a downside, too. 

“The potential of a NFL starting three-technique – his flashes are similar to former Ole Miss defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche on the field (29th pick in the 2016 NFL Draft by the Arizona Cardinals), displaying the athletic traits and upside of a first-round pick, but the consistency and discipline of a second-round prospect,” according to Brugler.

Bryan believes his game translates well to the NFL style of play. 

“When it comes to me, I feel I’m a very aggressive (defensive) lineman, get off the ball, try to get my hands on some people,” Bryan 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.”

Falcons defensive line coach Bryant Young would be charged with getting Byran ready to go and play alongside of the emerging Grady Jarrett. 

Bryan has been studying NFL players. 

“J.J. Watt would be one of them – technician, I’ve seen him do some things … some of this techniques are just awesome,” Byran said. “I like Ndamukong Suh, he’s a very, aggressive strong guy. Gets after it, really mean dude, good dude to model a game after.”

His father has certainly had an influence on Bryan. 

“He was just always on me, so I guess maybe from that background, he made sure I was always working, busy, wouldn’t let me get away with anything,” Bryan said. “Definitely helped build into the man I am today.”

Former Georgia linebacker Roquan Smith and former N.C. State defensive end Bradley Chubb, who played at Hillgrove High, will attend the NFL draft, according to the league.

Smith and Chubb are projected to be selected in the top 10.

Bryan will also be in Texas for the draft. 

The league released a list of 22 players that will attend. 

Here’s the full list: Louisville cornerback Jaire Alexander, Wyoming quarterback Josh Allen, Penn State running back Saquon Barkley, Bryan, Chubb, USC quarterback Sam Darnold, Texas-San Antonio defensive end Marcus Davenport, Virginia Tech linebacker Tremaine Edmunds, Alabama linebacker Rashaan Evans, Alabama defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick, Central Florida linebacker Shaquem Griffin, LSU running back Derrius Guice; Iowa cornerback Josh Jackson, Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson, Florida State safety Derwin James, UCLA tackle Kolton Miller, UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen, Smith, Boise State linebacker Leighton Vander Esch, Washinton defensive tackle Vita Vea, Ohio State cornerback Denzel Ward and Texas offensive tackle Connor Williams.

Some other intriguing players to watch for the Falcons, not necessarily first-rounders, are Ohio State defensive end Jaylen Holmes, Memphis linebacker Genard Avery, Mississippi State defensive end Breeland Speaks and Limestone wide receiver Vyncint Smith worked out for the Falcons on Monday with wide receivers coach Raheem Morris and offensive assistant Davis Brock.

2018 NFL Draft: First-round order



1- 1- 1 Cleveland – Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming 

1- 2- 2 New York Giants – Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State 

1- 3- 3 New York Jets from Indianapolis (a) --- Sam Darnold, QB, USC

1- 4- 4 Cleveland from Houston (b) – Bradley Chubb, DE, N.C. State 

1- 5- 5 Denver – Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA 

1- 6- 6 Indianapolis from New York Jets (c) – Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia 

1- 7- 7 Tampa Bay – Quentin Nelson, OG, Notre Dame 

1- 8- 8 Chicago – Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State 

1- 9- 9 San Francisco – Minkah Fitzpatrick, CB, Alabama 

1-10-10 Oakland – Tremaine Edmonds, LB, Virginia Tech

1-11-11 Miami – Vita Vea, DT, Miami; 

1-12-12 Buffalo from Cincinnati (d) – Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma 

1-13-13 Washington – Derwin James, DB, Florida State 

1-14-14 Green Bay – Marcus Davenport, DE, UT-San Antonio 

1-15-15 Arizona – Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville 

1-16-16 Baltimore – Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama 

1-17-17 Los Angeles Chargers – Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU 

1-18-18 Seattle – Derrius Guice, RB, LSU 

1-19-19 Dallas – DaRon Payne, DT, Alabama 

1-20-20 Detroit – Orlando Brown, T, Oklahoma 

1-21-21 Cincinnati from Buffalo (e) – Rashaad Evans, ILB, Alabama 

1-22-22 Buffalo from Kansas City (f) – Isiah Wynn, OG, Georgia 

1-23-23 New England from Los Angeles (g) – Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame 

1-24-24 Carolina – Connor Williams, OT, Texas 

1-25-25 Tennessee – Harold Landry, OLB, Boston College 

1-26-26 Atlanta – Taven Bryan, DT, Florida 

1-27-27 New Orleans – Sam Hubbard, DE, Ohio State 

1-28-28 Pittsburgh -- Leighton Vander Esch, LB, Boise State 

1-29-29 Jacksonville – Dallas Goedert, TE, South Dakota State 

1-30-30 Minnesota – Kolton Miller, OT, UCLA 

1-31-31 New England – Mason Rudolph, QB, Oklahoma State

1-32-32 Philadelphia – Josh Jackson, CB, Iowa

(a) Jets acquired pick from Colts for first-round pick, two second-round picks and second-round pick in 2019, March 17, 2018.

(b) Browns acquired pick and first-round pick in 2017 (S Jabrill Peppers) from Texans for first-round pick in 2017 (QB Deshaun Watson), April 27, 2017.

(c) Colts acquired pick from Jets: see (1a).

(d) Bills acquired pick and sixth-round pick from Bengals for T Cordy Glenn and first-round pick, March 14, 2018.

(e) Bengals acquired pick from Bills: see (1b).

(f) Bills acquired pick and first- (CB Tre'Davious White) and third-round picks in 2017 from Chiefs for first-round pick in 2017 (QB Patrick Mahomes), April 27, 2017.

(g) New England acquired the pick in a trade with the Rams for WR Brandin Cooks and a fourth-round pick. The Patriots also picked up a sixth-round pick. April 3, 2018. 


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About the Author

D. Orlando Ledbetter
D. Orlando Ledbetter
D. Orlando Ledbetter is the Atlanta Falcons beat writer for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.