Detroit Lions rookie linebacker Jahlani Tavai refused to listen to all the negativity surrounding his draft status. Now, that focus is creating a true lion.
In the second round of the 2019 NFL Draft, the Detroit Lions selected a rather unknown linebacker out of Hawaii, Jahlani Tavai. As soon as the pick was announced, Lions fans jaws were dropping and they were confused.
Hardly anyone knew who Tavai was and the immediate reaction was that Detroit had overreached in a tremendous way. Fans had not heard of this guy, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t a good player.
Tavai had shoulder surgery that kept him out of the NFL draft combine and the Senior Bowl which pushed him under the radar a little bit. General manager Bob Quinn and his scouts, along with head coach Matt Patricia had sure knew who he was though.
When Tavai was confronted about the criticism by the Lions fanbase over his second-round draft selection. Here’s the response he gave to MLive.com during OTAs.
"“I don’t really care, worry about anything, I think there was a quote, ‘lions don’t listen to the opinion of goats,’ or whatever. I’m just going to have that mindset and focus on what I can control. And right now, I can control taking care of my body and just worrying about tomorrow.”"
The rookie linebacker wasn’t joking. Tavai hasn’t paid any mind to the naysayers and it shows with his short body of work so far.
Tavai has been picking up the Lions defense very quickly and very steadily. He is quick to fix mistakes and always ready to learn more. The rookie is much quicker than initially given credit for and the guy has a motor that doesn’t quit. He always seems to be around the ball.
Standing 6-foot-2 inches and weighing in at 250 pounds, Tavai hits like a monster. The young linebacker has great instincts and reads plays very well early on. He can shed blocks nicely and drop into coverage very well too.
Detroit’s rookie linebacker has been working incredibly hard throughout camp and has looked very good in the small preseason doses we have had the pleasure of watching. He could very well be a feared player on this Lions defense soon enough. Tavai appears to be the real deal.
Tavai is extremely versatile as well. The Lions have had him in all four linebacker positions and he plays them all very well, especially for a rookie. This is excellent news for a defense that has lost Jarrad Davis to an ankle injury for a few weeks at the very minimum. Tavai can be plugged in anywhere there is a need.
Tavai was truthful when he said he doesn’t listen to the opinions of goats. All of the negativity that has deemed his draft status as a reach has been pushed to the back of his mind and he is just focused on what he can control. That focus has been creating a true lion. I sure hope you’re ready to hear him roar on Sundays, but don’t think for a second that Tavai cares if you’re not!
As for myself, I’m sold and have become a fan of Jahlani Tavai. I believe the Detroit Lions have found yet another special player via the NFL draft. How do you feel about Tavai’s performance thus far? Has he been keeping to his word in your opinion? Let me know what you think in the comments section below!