Mel Kiper: Boom or bust with possible Falcons pick Taven Bryan

Prospect Profile: Taven Bryan (0:44)

Mel Kiper Jr. says Florida DT Taven Bryan has physical gifts reminiscent of J.J. Watt, but his productivity hasn't yet matched his measurables. (0:44)

If the Atlanta Falcons decide to draft Florida defensive tackle Taven Bryan on Thursday night, they could have an impact player for years to come.

Or they might get a player who could fizzle out quickly.

That's how ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper assessed Bryan during his final pre-draft conference call Friday when talking about the top defensive tackles available.

"Taven Bryan is the kid out of Florida who has a little boom or bust to him," Kiper said. "He could be great. He was disruptive, but he's got to locate the ball a little bit better. He gets in the backfield and all of sudden he's not making the play, where you see guys like [Da'Ron] Payne and [Vita] Vea doing that. Hurst as well.

"If you want to roll the dice for a grand slam, you take Taven Bryan from Florida. He can be a three technique."

It's no secret the Falcons need a playmaker along the defensive line next to nose tackle Grady Jarrett, with run-stuffer Dontari Poe signing with Carolina in free agency. The Falcons would like to have a player with pass-rush ability, which the versatile Bryan possesses. Payne and Vea are more of the big nose tackle type who will stuff the run and create space for linebackers to make plays.

Word around the league is the 6-foot-5, 291-pound Bryan will be long off the board if the Falcons stand pat with the 26th overall pick. Kiper sees him going to either Dallas at No. 19 or Detroit to No. 20. The Falcons obviously have a strong interest in Bryan while going to Florida last week to take a last look at him.

General manager Thomas Dimitroff always is open to trading up, and he has a willing trade partner sitting at No. 18 in the Seattle Seahawks. Last year, the Falcons traded the 31th pick, a third-rounder and a seventh-rounder to the Seahawks to move up to No. 26 and draft defensive end Takkarist McKinley.

Of all the top defensive tackles, Michigan's Maurice Hurst probably is the best fit for the Falcons' scheme. However, a heart condition diagnosed at the combine might keep Hurst from being selected in the first round.

Kiper offered his assessment of Hurst and the other defensive tackles.

"Maurice Hurst is the ultimate three technique out of Michigan," Kiper said. "He's, I think, more of an early-to mid-second. Some think late first. Underrated? You can spin that any way. Some would say Bryan is underrated based on the talent. I don't see that because I think if he was more productive, he would have gone in the top 10-15, guaranteed.

"Vea and Payne, if you want to say overrated because they're not going to give you great pass rush. They're going to be disruptive without being guys getting sacks. They're not Haloti Ngata. So if you want to say that, you could go that route."

In terms of sleeper defensive tackles, Kiper pointed to Nathan Shepherd of Fort Hays State and R.J. McIntosh of Miami as intriguing prospects likely to go in the late second/early third round. Shepherd made a pre-draft visit to the Falcons on April 5 along with Payne and Cincinnati offensive tackle Korey Cunningham.