Detroit Lions: A closer look at linebacker Jahlani Tavai
Clearing up the issue, KITCW opinion
If you want to read more about Bob Quinn’s comments on the draft, you can read some other commentary from 247 Sports, here. What we can see is that Tavai does fit the Lions’ mold for players. The Lions do not demand top-end speed out of their edge-linebacker players.
Bob Quinn gave some basic requirements and combined with the examples on the New England Patriots and Detroit Lions rosters, we can quantify exactly what he means. What can’t exactly be quantified here is the individual performances by Jahlani Tavai, here are the highlights from the San Jose State game, here. You can see him doing a nice job on third-round pick Josh Oliver on a couple of occasions plus see him move and tackle. It wasn’t a defensive game, though.
What seems to be valued is the ten-yard split, arm/ wingspan length, height and weight, a good short shuttle time, and some basic measurements in the vertical jump and broad jump.
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What still doesn’t sit well is that Tavai’s measurable skills did not fall close to the top end of the testing we observed from the other fourteen prospects, which would indicate that he was a better prospect and thus worthy of a higher pick than almost all others. That doesn’t mean that he can’t play, though.
His film is good against lesser competition, he can move in short areas while covering, he can tackle; he often drags players to the ground after lunging and almost falling on top of them, instead of keeping proper knee bend and exploding through the tackle. He lacks the ability to cover over any extended distance due to his marginal speed. In short areas, like in zones, he is fluid and has good change-of-direction ability.
Quinn said that he can rush the passer, cover, and tackle. We did see him rush the passer but he did not look great in that area. He played high and tried to bull rush or speed rush almost exclusively. In the film we saw, he didn’t get to the quarterback, although he did amass more than sixteen sacks at the college level.
Overall, we aren’t sure that it was a great value at pick forty-three but Bob Quinn is ultimately responsible for the outcome. If Tavai starts and is productive, no one will probably say too much about this pick. We really feel that based on the Top 50 draft pick used, Detroit Lions fans should expect a player specifically chosen for this system at that spot to be close to All-Pro honors in the near future.
You have had time to process this selection, what do you think? Do you fall into the “I trust Bob Quinn” faction? Do you automatically default to being skeptical based on the Lions draft history?
As part of the fanbase, we are somewhat skeptical but willing to keep an open mind because we want to hope for a better 2019. Follow us CoachKirk @mkirk2 on Twitter for more Detroit and Michigan sports, plus some other random content.