To the dismay of many around Jacksonville, the Jaguars selected Taven Bryan with the 29th pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. The team had obvious needs on the offensive side of the ball — including QB, WR, TE and RG — but instead went with a high upside defensive lineman out of Florida, who would obviously go on to be buried on the depth chart behind the cast of star studded players along the Jags' D-Line.
Instead of getting an immediate impact player on the offensive side of the ball, the Jaguars went with a project defensive lineman. That left a lot of people scratching their heads as the Jags entered a season with Super Bowl aspirations.
Bryan's 2018 season was, unsurprisingly, largely disappointing. The Jaguars repeatedly attempted to put a square peg in a round hole with Bryan, lining him up at defensive end more than three technique (where he played in college) for much of the season. Throughout the offseason and training camp Bryan received positive reviews from his mentor, Calais Campbell, but in-season rarely showed the potential that had NFL scouts salivating through out the draft process.
His final performance of 2018, however, showcased how Bryan might make an impact for the Jaguars in the 2019. And he'll need to. First round picks are premium assets in the NFL and they're expected to make a big impact for their ball club no later than year two.
The Jaguars were thoroughly beaten by the Texans in the final week of 2018, but Bryan's effort was solid throughout the contest. He finished with 32 total defensive snaps, tied for the most he played all season. While playing less than half the total defensive snaps in this one, Bryan's impact was still felt. He consistently showed his burst with quick get offs, both from the defensive tackle and defensive end position. And he was able to take down Deshaun Watson in the backfield for his only sack of the season.
There's little question that Bryan was put in a less than ideal position as a rookie. He was asked to learn two positions, but wasn't given enough playing time to really get into a rhythm at either. Still, far too often, he looked lost on the field as a rookie.
Playing time shouldn't be a problem in 2019. The Jaguars are expected to get rid of their starting three technique defensive tackle, Malik Jackson, during the offseason, which will give Taven Bryan the opportunity to earn the starting job at that position. If Bryan does, in fact, earn a spot in the starting lineup for the Jaguars next year, he'll need to look much more like the player we saw during the final game of the season than the one we saw for the first fifteen contests of the year.
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