By John Reid, GateHouse Media Services
JACKSONVILLE — As the Jaguars headed into their second week of organized team activity practices Tuesday, first-round draft pick Taven Bryan has already made a favorable impression on defensive line coach Marion Hobby and some of the veteran players.
Through the workouts are non-padded, it is Bryan’s quick first step off the ball that’s caught Hobby’s attention.
″That kind of jumps out at you,″ Hobby said. ″I like that 6-foot-4, 295-pound frame. He’s not doing a bunch of talking, but he’s not afraid to ask questions. He’s assertive. He’s not a me guy. I think he wants to please.″
In 11-on-11 work, the Jaguars have Bryan, a standout at the University of Florida, playing on both sides of the ball, mostly at defensive tackle. But with defensive ends Dante Fowler, also a former UF standout, and Dawuane Smoot not participating last week, it allowed Bryan a chance to get reps at defensive end, too.
″I just want to do the right things,″ Bryan said. ″I’m starting at the bottom and I’m trying to work my way up and maybe earn some playing time.″
Since rookie minicamp, coach Doug Marrone said the most important things he want to see from Bryan and the six other draft picks is whether they’re coachable, can avoid injuries and are good listeners.
″God gave you two ears and one mouth so you can listen twice as much as you talk,″ Marrone said. ″I believe that’s what smart people do. I want to see them paying attention.″
Since joining the veterans for workouts last week, Bryan has sought out Calais Campbell, Malik Jackson and Marcell Dareus for advice. On Thursday, he was seen talking with Jackson and showing him the way he uses his hands to get off blocks.
″We talk often,″ Campbell said. ″He’s trying to learn the actual plays and the techniques to use in certain situations that can give him advantages and stuff. He is really learning the basics right now. 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.”
With the influx of exceptional defensive line talent, which included acquiring Dareus before last season’s trade deadline, Hobby joked that he is willing to give a ″Thank You″ speech to executive vice president of football operations Tom Coughlin and general manager Dave Caldwell.
The Jaguars still looked to strengthen their defensive front by selecting Taven with the 29th pick in the first round despite that they were the only team in the league last season to have four players with at least eight sacks, which included Campbell’s franchise-record 14.5, Yannick Ngakoue’s 12, Fowler and Jackson each had eight.
″Tom Coughlin’s history is he kind of likes defensive linemen and my defensive coordinator (Todd Wash) is an ex-D-line coach,″ said Hobby, who is in second year with the Jaguars after serving six seasons on Dabo Swinney’s staff at Clemson, which included winning a national championship in 2016.
″Hey man, it’s great. I think it’s a great situation. Just bring him. Whoever you put in that room, we’re going to coach them. My real goal and we talked about it – I want to play in that big game. We smelled it, we were close. I want to play in that big game.″
Reid is a sports writer for the Florida Times-Union in Jacksonville.