I don’t think I have ever seen a football player so excited to be part of rookie minicamp. But that’s exactly the impression I got listening to Jacksonville Jaguars’ first-round draft pick Taven Bryan.
The former Florida Gators defensive tackle met with the media on Friday to discuss his first impressions of being part of an NFL team and going through the paces of learning the game on the next level.
“It’s awesome,” he said. “It’s awesome to be able to dedicate 100 percent of your time [to football]. There are only 24 hours in a day and you get to spend 16 doing football, so it’s pretty sweet. I mean, it’s like the ideal job in my opinion.”
That’s the kind of first impression the fans want to hear and his teammates hope for. Bryan walks into a situation where he does not have to start immediately but still has a chance to make an impact in his first season. The Jaguars have one of the best defensive lines in the NFL and were second in the NFL in sacks last season. Bryan, who played tackle at Florida, could be moved outside as well, eventually replacing Calais Campbell.
Bryan is one of 63 eligible players who has been out in the heat, running drills and learning how to adapt to life in the league.
Bryan was a one-year starter at Florida where he only had five sacks in his college career. He is athletic enough to become a solid pass rusher and tough enough to play with a hand down in the middle to stop the run. Some have compared his skill set to a raw J.J. Watt. The Jaguars will take that and if Taven Bryan becomes that kind of player, then 28 other teams will kick themselves that they did not make a move to draft the 6-foot-5, 293-pound rookie.
Taven Bryan’s appearance in black and teal means the team is planning for the future, where Marcell Dareus, Abry Jones and Calais Campbell all have contracts that could affect their positioning in 2019 and 2020.
Head coach Doug Marrone spoke to the media following Bryan’s interview. He said he wasn’t getting too excited about what he saw on the practice field adjacent to TIAAA Bank Stadium because it was early in the process, but was pleased the players came in and showed they were in shape and ready to work.
″We’re basically playing in our pajamas,″ Marrone said. ″We’re not tackling, not doing things of that nature. So it’s very difficult to give an evaluation.
″I want them to coachable and available,″ Marrone added. ″I don’t want to see them in the training room, I want to see them paying attention and at the front of the line. I want to see the type of leadership they have and are good listeners and they go about their business. First impressions are important and I’m not talking about making plays right now. I’m talking about the way you handle your business and that’s what I’m looking at.″
Marrone said the plan is to get these players ready for the remainder of the offseason so they are up to speed when the veterans report to camp. The last thing the team needs is there to be a gap between those who are prepared to work and those who cannot do the simple things NFL players need to do become successful.
Taven Bryan understands that and wants to give this team all he can to help them reach the playoffs once again.
″I just want to give a good impression with the coaches and do everything I can,″ Bryan said.