The Jaguars' brass expects big things from Taven Bryan in 2020, and they should. The 2018 first-round pick improved his play dramatically in 2019 and regularly found himself blowing plays up in the opposing backfield. Still, he was more of a role player last season. Now, he's expected to be the leading man at the 3-tech defensive tackle spot, where he'll be tasked with creating interior pressure.
Bryan's box score statistics from 2019 are far from impressive. He contributed just two sacks and 33 total tackles. But looking beyond the box score, it's plain as day that Bryan was an asset for the Jaguars in his sophomore season. He played just 481 total snaps in 2019, less than half of the team's total defensive plays. But in those reps, he showed the potential the Jaguars have been looking for. He routinely beat interior offensive linemen, wreaking havoc in the backfield on his way to 14 stops. His penetration against the run also allowed others around him to clean up. Bryan tallied 25 QB pressures on 233 pass-rush snaps from a pass rush perspective, good for a pressure percentage of just over ten. Taking that percentage and applying over 450 pass-rush snaps, Bryan would project to have 48 pressures in an expanded role. And that's if he doesn't take another step forward in his game.
Jaguars' head coach Doug Marrone noticed Bryan's development in year two and expects even more in year three.
"With Taven it's a little bit easier, the expectations," said Marrone. "I really felt that we probably didn't help him early on in his career. We were moving him a little bit. Technically, technique-wise, that probably stopped a little bit of the growth. When we kept him in one spot and working on the technique in the one position, you really saw some growth and saw him make some plays. So, real happy about that. I really think he will take another big step this year. He took a big step last year, where he was able to be productive and make plays. I feel really good about him. He's always been a hard worker. He's always been extremely strong, but from what I have seen right now, so far in camp, is someone that is really, really focused, really working on his game. I'm looking to see him take a big step for us this year, and I think it will help."
The Jaguars' General Manager Dave Caldwell also liked what he saw from Bryan in 2019.
"I saw a difference when we put him in at our three-technique, our defensive tackle position, and just let him play those," said Caldwell. "And around week five and week six, you saw a different player and he continued to get better, and you look at the game grade and a lot of credit goes to our defensive line coach and Coach Wash on how they developed him. Going all the way to the end of the season he kept getting ahead if you looked at the grades. He got better every week. It was better, better, better to the last game of the season where he played his best game of football."
Bryan's play in 2019 went a long way towards removing the "bust" label that many have placed on him. But in this year to year league, Bryan needs to show even more improvement in 2020. If he can do just that, Bryan will have the chance to become a mainstay at defensive tackle in Jacksonville for years to come.
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