The Jacksonville Jaguars drafted defensive tackle Taven Bryan 29th overall with the intention of slowly developing him. However, based on his performance early on in OTAs, the learning curve may be smaller than initially expected.
Despite the fact that the Jacksonville Jaguars have a dearth of talent all across the defensive line, it’s good to develop a steady rotation and have a deep depth chart at a position where injuries are all too common.
Coming out of Florida, Bryan was viewed as arguably the most talented defensive lineman in the draft. Despite his raw technique, Bryan was seen as a guy with sky-high upside, and even drew comparisons to four time Pro Bowler JJ Watt for his physical playing style, passion, and alpha dog mentality.
One of the things that inevitably makes the adjustment period from college to the pros that much harder is the fact that many players go from being the hot shot high draft choice, to competing with seasoned veterans who already know the ropes. This is something that causes many players to endure series growing pains during their transition between levels.
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Despite the difference in talent level and skillset between levels of competition, Bryan is using his competitive nature and loud voice to ease the growing pains. Throughout the first two weeks of OTAs, he’s spent a lot of time asking questions and learning the ropes under the watchful eye of veteran Calais Campbell. As someone who’s seen it all in his 10-year career, one of the things that’s impressed Campbell most about Bryan is his drive to get better day in and day out:
"“We talk often. He is definitely eager to learn. He’s still learning the system, so he’s trying to learn the actual plays and the techniques to use in certain situations that can give him advantages and stuff,” Campbell said."
Campbell’s also noticed that Bryan has a high football IQ, which he’s able to translate to the field while developing at a rapid pace:
"“He is really learning the basics right now. I try to give him a lot of information and see what he can retain. He’s a very talented player and has shown a lot of flash, a lot of potential. I’m just eager to see what he does when we put pads on him. It is a long way away. He’s getting better each day.”"
While OTAs aren’t always the best indicator for where rookies are in their development (especially for lineman), the early returns on Bryan’s attitude, work ethnic, and development have been nothing but positive.
If the rookie continues to raise eyebrows when the pads come on in training camp, the team may have to find a position for him on the field. As the third defensive tackle taken in the first round, Bryan could also wind up being a steal.
While it’s still early on in the process, Taven Bryan has the makings of a impact player for years to come.