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View from the O-Zone: Perfect fit


JACKSONVILLE – He flew, he landed, he smiled – and he savored every moment.

Taven Bryan chose a number Friday – 90. He shook many hands, and he said many words. And perhaps the most pertinent words he said on his first day as a professional football player came while standing on EverBank Field moments after his first professional press conference.

"I'm just ready to get to work," Bryan said.

First-Round-Pick-Introductory-Press-Conference day is a cool, memorable day in the NFL – stuffed with ceremony and smiles – and it's far more than an intro presser.

So, it was for Bryan on Friday.

Take a look at images as the Jaguars first-round pick, Taven Bryan, arrives at EverBank Field.

He woke in Texas, rode a private plane to Jacksonville, saw his name on a giant videoboard while riding in that plane, posed for pictures with Jaguars Executive Vice President of Football Operations Tom Coughlin, walked for a second consecutive day on a red carpet…

As memory-making days go, this ranks with the best.

"I definitely enjoy it," said Bryan, a defensive tackle from Casper, Wyoming, who played three seasons at the University of Florida before entering the 2018 NFL Draft. "I enjoy this opportunity, honestly. Not very many people get it. I got really lucky and I'm very happy with it. … It will sink in, eventually."

The press conference and on-field photo with Jaguars General Manager David Caldwell, Coughlin and Head Coach Doug Marrone was Bryan's last stop on a whirlwind day at 'the Bank, and it was during the presser that you began getting a feel for just why Bryan is in Jacksonville.

Marrone, speaking for the first time since the selection, quickly dismissed the notion that just because the Jaguars are deep and talented at Bryan's defensive line position the rookie might be being brought in to develop and play in future years.

"Make no mistake about it, we brought him in here to be productive and help us win," Marrone said, patting Bryan on the shoulder. "We didn't say, 'Listen, just relax and we'll bring you along.'"

Marrone talked, too, of Bryan's "get-off" and the fact that Bryan "doesn't remain blocked long."

"That's the one thing you look for in a defensive lineman," Marrone said. "You can see him escape, and you can see him make a play. Those are things you want to see."

Marrone then emphasized what he tells all rookies – that what they did to get here doesn't matter much anymore, and that now "you have to go out and there and have to earn everything."

It's on that front that it's easy to see why Bryan is in Jacksonville. And it's easy to see why the franchise sees him as a perfect fit.

That became clear listening to Bryan in the press conference – and listening to his father, Brandy, afterward. Bryan talked of multiple jobs he did from age 10-to-17, jobs Brandy – a former Navy Seal now a captain in the City of Casper (Wyoming) fire department – gave him. Laying concrete. Painting. Framing houses. Roofing. Plumbing.

"He's a very busy dude," Bryan said of his father.

And a tough one, too. Brandy spoke to the media after Friday's photo op. He told the story of nine-year-old Taven working a concrete job with a group of 16-to-18 high school students, and of how Taven broke concrete with a 16-pound sledgehammer while the high school students mostly watched. Brandy said the ranch manager told the high schoolers that evening, "If I see this young man outwork you high school athletes one more time, I'm going to fire all of you."

"My kids don't get a free ride for nothing; they have to work their way through everything," Brandy said.

By the time Brandy finished, you no longer wondered why Coughlin and Marrone selected Bryan.

Heck, you were amazed Coughlin didn't trade up to get him.

Take a look as the Jaguars introduced their 2018 first round pick, Taven Bryan.

"Obviously, his family did an outstanding job – the work ethic, the way he goes about his business," Marrone said.

That work ethic, of course, guarantees nothing because nothing is guaranteed in the NFL. First-round selections miss and seventh-round selections hit, and even the hardest workers sometimes are among the misses. But work ethic sure increases your chances of being among the hits, and listening to Bryan and his father Friday, it was pretty clear that if he's among the misses, work won't be the reason.

"I'm just ready to get to work …"

Was that really what Bryan said standing on the field at the 'Bank Friday with his name in impossibly big teal and gold letters on a video board behind him?

Was that really what he was thinking on the first day of the rest of his life?

Well, of course it was.

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