The Jacksonville Jaguars came into the NFL Draft with needs to fill on the offensive line, at linebacker, in the wide receiver corps, at tight end and at quarterback. What the team has done over the first two days of the selection process is make the term “value pick” the mantra for the process of building this team into a Super Bowl contender.
“I want to thank you guys and thank you for the opportunity that I have been given,” first -round pick Taven Bryan, a defensive tackle from Florida, said at his introductory press conference at EverBank Field. “I am very thankful that you guys selected me. I am very glad to be here. I am appreciative of the fans and the whole community.”
Bryan, a local product from the University of Florida, could play inside or on the end and figures to get 25-30 reps in the Jaguars defensive scheme. Head coach Doug Marrone stressed this team liked what they saw in the former Gators starter and the franchise added another player who makes a great defense even better.
“I think when you look at the tape, you can never have enough good defensive lineman, from a philosophy standpoint. Me specifically, when I watch the tape, the things that I like is one, the get-off. I think that is an important part of what you do,” Marrone said.
“Taven has an outstanding get-off and the other thing is that he doesn’t remain blocked long. That is the one thing you look for in a defensive lineman. You can see him escape. You can see him make a play. Those are the things that you want to see. Knowing that it is part of it – obviously, he has done a great job to this point to be in this position to be drafted, but like I say to a lot of players, it doesn’t really matter how you got here. Just like in the first team meeting – it doesn’t matter if you were [acquired] in the first round or whether you were a free agent.”
Marrone also stressed he will continue to do the things this season as he did in 2017 – which is remind players, Bryan included, the hard work is just beginning. This is a new year and a new opportunity to reach the Jaguars’ goal of getting to the Super Bowl.
“Now, you have to go out there and you have to earn everything when you get on the practice field. When you look at his background and you speak to him, obviously his [Bryan’s] family did an outstanding job, as far as his work ethic, the way he goes about his business. We plan on him going back home, packing, getting here and getting ready to work. Get in the locker room, earn your teammates’ respect by what you do and getting in there and get him on the field and play. We are very excited about that.”
As David Caldwell, the Jacksonville Jaguars general manager stressed on Day 2, the team took the highest rated player on the Jaguars draft board when it came time to select.
Bryan adds depth for the coming season and the future. Wide receiver and second-round pick DJ Chark gives Marrone a tall, lanky pass catcher who adds another dimension to the passing game.
Caldwell said Chark was a player the team thought it might have to trade up to select. Up until the 61st pick, he was on the phone with teams looking to trade up. Chark’s size is enticing and his speed, a 4.34 at the Combine, gives this team another speedster who can also be a red zone threat.
“He’s a guy who has improved year after year and when you see what he did at the Senior Bowl and the Combine, he’s a big guy, he’s 6’3’’, he’s 200 pounds, he runs in the 4.3s. It’s a pick not just for our passing game but our running game, too. When you have a guy with that kind of speed, teams have to be cognizant of him making big plays down the field,” Caldwell told the media Friday evening.
The loss of Allen Robinson to Chicago and Allen Hurns in Dallas meant the team needed a bigger pass catcher that could catch 50-50 balls. Chark also becomes another weapon in the Jacksonville Jaguars passing game and another target for quarterback Blake Bortles.
Ronnie Harrison, who was selected in the third round is a safety who has size and is a solid tackler who will become a part of the secondary rotation and could push Tashaun Gipson or Barry Church for a starting role in 2019.
“I’m excited to get to work and be close to home, that’s where I’m from. Coming into a great organization and a great defense. I can’t wait to get to work,” Harrison said via conference call.
Harrison joins arguably the best secondary in the NFL. It’s something he spoke about, hoping he can come in and contribute as a rookie.
“I feel like it’s going to make the whole room better, Harrison added. “I feel like [you] add my competitiveness with the older vets and it’s going to make the whole room better, make the team better, as well. Just have to get everybody wanting to get better.
The Jacksonville Jaguars may be in “win now” mode, but Caldwell, Marrone and executive vice-president Tom Coughlin saw the need to add pieces for the future as well. The Jacksonville Jaguars have four more picks in the NFL Draft on Saturday and could add depth at units of strength. They also address the needs that have not been filled in the first two days of the selection process.