Will this be the season Jacksonville Jaguars defensive tackle Taven Bryan has a breakout year and puts an end to his “bust” label by local and national media?
Until he is able to change the minds of local and national media and the fan base that had hoped the Jacksonville Jaguars would draft Lamar Jackson, defensive end Taven Bryan will fight an uphill battle.
The first two seasons of his NFL career have been anything but stellar. The former Florida Gator first-round draft pick has been part of an interior defensive rotation that has had issues with the run and individually, Bryan hasn’t been able to carve out an identity worthy of being amongst the 32 best players in the 2018 NFL Draft.
At least one NFL, Bleacher Report’s Alex Ballentine, believes Bryan could have his best season in 2020, which could help erase what appears to be a failed career so far in the NFL.
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“The Jaguars have hit on a lot of their recent picks on the defensive side of the ball. Yannick Ngakoue, Ronnie Harrison and Myles Jack make up a nucleus of young playmakers who could have a bright future (in the unlikely event Ngakoue stays long-term),” Ballentine writes.
“However, Taven Bryan hasn’t shown the team much since being drafted No. 29 overall in 2018, adding just three sacks and 16 pressures in two seasons as a rotational player. Those aren’t exciting numbers, but there is still reason to believe the best is yet to come for the Florida product.”
Fans who have been critical of Bryan sure hope so and hope the Jacksonville Jaguars, who were a few months removed from the AFC title game when they drafted him, realize their misfortune.
Bryan was brought in with the intention of playing outside as a big pass rusher who would eventually replace Calais Campbell. The experiment did not go according to play and midway through his rookie campaign, Bryan moved inside to tackle where he appeared to be more comfortable.
Bryan looked better in 2019, but still never wowed anyone with his play against the run or his pass rush skills. What made his performance even more dismal was the success of other players taken around him, especially Jackson, who was the league’s MVP. While Bryan is expected to see extensive playing time again this season, the Jacksonville Jaguars front office added more pieces to the defensive line puzzle by signing Al Woods and Rodney Gunter in free agency.
The team also drafted DaVon Hamilton out of Ohio State in the third round of the NFL Draft.
“First, there was a step up in improvement for Bryan in 2019. He started eight games, posted the eighth-highest run grade among interior defenders in November, per Pro Football Focus, and finished the season with a respectable 75.6 overall grade,” Ballentine adds. “That’s all while taking a much bigger role than he had in his rookie season. He went from playing 29 percent of the defensive snaps in 2018 to 46 percent in 2019.”
The idea of moving players in and out of the lineup and having a deep rotation will help the team and Bryan to keep him fresher during games.
Bryan has this season and one more remaining on his rookie deal. The Jacksonville Jaguars do have a fifth-year option they can pick up. But realistically, if Bryan does not improve this season and cannot take another step in 2021, fans won’t have to worry about him on the roster because it might be the end of his tenure in Duval County.