With the 29th pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, the Jacksonville Jaguars selected defensive linemen Taven Bryan out of the University of Florida. Here’s the biggest factors that helped the Jaguars decide to draft the 293 pound lineman.

The Numbers

Taven Bryan, standing at 6’5 and 293 lbs, is a big addition to the defensive line in Jacksonville. From 2015 through 2017, Bryan totaled 62 tackles, 10.5 tackles for loss, 5.5 sacks, and one interception. Bryan’s statistics, at first glance, seem unimpressive for a first round pick. However, it is not about how you start, but about how you finish.

Bryan’s best season came in 2017, where he totaled 37 tackles, 6 tackles for loss, and 4 sacks. The fact that most of Bryan’s production came from the interior makes his season even more impressive.

The Competition

In addition, Bryan produced these numbers in the highly competitive SEC. As we know, Dave Caldwell loves to select players from this conference, and rightfully so. The SEC is highly regarded as the conference with the highest competition of play in college football.

In the past, Dave Caldwell has selected former SEC college standouts Luke Joeckel (2013, Texas A&M), Dante Fowler (2015, Florida), Leonard Fournette (2017, LSU) and now Taven Bryan (2018, Florida). Besides Joeckel, all of these players are thriving on the Jaguars roster. That fact speaks volume of why Caldwell loves to select players from the SEC. If a player can produce at a high level in the SEC, it is more than likely that the player will be successful in the NFL. In this case, the Jaguars will hope that Taven Bryan can carry the momentum from his 2017 season into his NFL rookie season in 2018, and beyond.

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The selection of Taven Bryan has been seen as a success by analysts. Chris Simms of Bleacher Report even went on to describe Bryan as a “poor man’s J.J. Watt“. Having Bryan drop to the 29th spot turned out to be a great scenario for the Jaguars.

The Salary Cap Situation

However, despite the great scenario, the selection came as somewhat of a shock to many analysts and fans. This is because of the fact that the Jaguars, who are known as “Sacksonville”, already boast one of the best defensive lines in the league. At first glance, it seems like the selection of Bryan may have been a waste.

However, after studying Jacksonville’s roster, one will see that the Jaguars also have one of the most expensive rosters in the league. This may be the biggest reason why the Jaguars selected Bryan. After a season under his belt, along with proper development, Taven Bryan gives the Jaguars the option to free up a good amount of cap space in 2019 by releasing either Marcell Dareus or Malik Jackson.

According to Over The Cap, Jackson and Dareus both rank in the top 10 among defensive tackles with largest salary cap hits in 2019. Jackson ranks third with $15,000,000 due, and Dareus ranks eighth with $10,585,000 due. With that in mind, it seems like it could and will be an easy decision for the Jaguars to release one of these, or even both Pro Bowl defensive tackles and hand over the reigns to Taven Bryan. This move would also help the Jaguars’ chances to sign young stars such as Myles Jack, Jalen Ramsey, and Yannick Ngakoue to long term deals in the near future.

The selection of Bryan may seem like a surprise at first; however, the selection makes more sense after studying the cap situation and roster of the Jacksonville Jaguars. It is reasonable to expect Taven Bryan to play from around 250 to 300 snaps in 2018 as a rotational defensive linemen, and go on to become a full time starter in 2019.

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