The Jaguars don't have the best track record with first-round picks; that's no secret. Another one is poised to be painted on the wrong side of Jaguars' history potentially, but this is the year Taven Bryan can change that. Coming into his third season, it's make or break time for the former Florida defensive lineman. Hopes were high for the 28th overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, but the production just hasn't been there. In Bryan's defense, the situation has not been great, and he hasn't been able to get on the field as much as you would hope for a former 1st round pick. With the defensive front looking vastly different in 2020, Bryan will need to prove his worth if he plans to hang around Duval.
The Jaguars found themselves in a very unusual place during the 2018 draft. The team was picking outside of the top 10 for the first time since 2007. With the team coming off of its most successful year in a decade, Dave Caldwell decided to bolster a position of strength. It was a questionable decision at best. The team was coming on an AFC championship run that should have accumulated in a Super Bowl appearance, but there were still holes on the roster. The offensive line could have been improved, as well as the receiving core. They followed up with D.J. Chark in the second round, and there is no doubt that choice seems to have worked out well, but if there was one place the Jaguars did not need to spend their first-round pick that year, it was the defensive front.
With the D-Line rotation as stout as it was, it's no surprise Bryan struggled to find playing time his rookie year. While he did appear in all 16 games, Bryan finished the season seeing the field for only 29% of the team's defensive snaps. That's not quite what you might expect from a first-rounder. In fact, it was the lowest defensive snap percentage for a first-round pick that year and less than all but two of the first 50 selections. The rookie managed to rack up 20 total tackles, 1 sack and 4 pressures. He also finished with a missed tackle percentage under 5%. His second year left much more to be desired. With Marcell Dareus out of the picture for a large portion of the year due to injury, Bryan saw his snap share rise to 46% while starting 8 games down the stretch. He increased his production with 33 total tackles, but his missed tackle percentage rose to over 17%, and the production just wasn't there with almost 200 more snaps than the previous year.
Bryan did improve down the stretch as he got a better fit and feel with consistent playing time. Taking a look at some tape from last year's final game at Indianapolis, Bryan was able to best Pro-Bowl guard Quentin Nelson several times. He shows explosive potential and strength to move lineman off the ball. 2020 will be his chance to shine. The Jaguars moved on from Calais Campbell after shipping him to Baltimore and declined Dareus' 2020 option in February. The team signed Al Woods and Rodney Gunter along the interior, but as the incumbent, Taven has the chance to indeed prove that he belongs as a starting 3-tech in the NFL. The Jaguars won't be hesitant to replace him after picking up another defensive tackle in this year's draft as well, but he will have chances to play all along the line in the new 3-4 packages. He can line up inside for nickel formations, and outside as the big strong-side end.
This will either be the year that Bryan shows the team and Duval fans alike that he can play at a high level, or join the list as another Jaguars' dud in the first round. Hopefully, Taven can find himself on the right side of history.
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