GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Taven Bryan will not return to Florida for his final year.

The redshirt junior defensive tackle announced Monday on Twitter that he will enter the NFL Draft and start prepping for his professional career. He is regarded as a potential late first-round pick by some draft sites and will likely be the first Gators player selected in the draft.


— Taven Bryan (@tavenbryan93) December 11, 2017 has Bryan ranked as the No. 4 defensive tackle in the 2018 draft class and has drawn comparisons to the Denver Broncos’ Derek Wolfe and the Houston Texans’ J.J. Watt when he is playing at his best.

“Bryan has a tremendous get-off with serious explosion off the snap,” the website’s analysis reads. “He also has developed strength with active hands to shed blocks. With his length, Bryan can play end or tackle, and he would be a perfect fit as a five-technique.

Bryan had a breakout season for the Gators in 2017, his first year as a full-time starter. In 12 games, Bryan recorded 40 tackles (6 for loss), 4 sacks and 3 quarterback hurries despite being constantly double-teamed as an interior defensive lineman. He was consistently ranked as one of the top defensive tackles in the SEC by Pro Football Focus and earned second-team All-SEC honors by the Associated Press.

Bryan did note, however, that the hiring of coach Dan Mullen gave him pause when considering his decision.

“Coach Mullen coming back to Gainesville made this decision very difficult,” Bryan wrote in the tweet, “because I have the highest regard for him and I believe he is going to bring greatness to #GatorNation.”

Bryan joins wide receiver Antonio Callaway as the Florida juniors so far to declare for the NFL Draft. Juniors have until Jan.

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