Who is Jahlani Tavai?

I said the same thing honestly. I’ve been playing close attention to Day 1 and 2 players, but Tavai has not been one to be on my scouting list. I was ready, I was excited, I was going to be happy to hear Greedy Williams’ name said when our pick was announced. I was ready for Mack Wilson. I was ready for AJ Brown/DK Metcalf/Parris Campbell. Instead, Bob Quinn decided to go with Jahlani Tavai. I’ve done my research and am ready to give you some insight on who our 2nd round pick is.

Jahlani Tavai is a LB/EDGE from Hawaii where he played all four years, in 47 games. He recorded 390 total tackles in his career, with 41 of those being for a loss, and recording 16.5 sacks. He’s had a few All-Conference awards, and was 10th in the FBS in tackles in 2017 with 124. He’s obviously able to make tackles, but I have some concerns with him. First of all, he was arrested last June for assault at a night club. Secondly, he had a shoulder injury last year which kept him out for a some games. I watched his film from this year against Wyoming and San Jose State. I’m guessing 2018 was not his best season, so I went back to 2016 and watched him against Middle Tennessee. I’m not saying he is a bad player but I think taking him 43 is a bit of a reach. Here are my takeaways on Tavai.

Tavai has a nice frame at just under 6’3 and a solid 250lbs. He gets to his top speed quickly, but his top speed is not quick. Tavai is under the “quick but not fast” category. He’s one of those players that plays with a swagger, you’ll know what I mean when you see him. What I find interesting is his ability to rush the passer effectively and also his ability to drop back in coverage. What makes me scratch my head is that we need help covering backs and tight ends at linebacker, which Tavai is a zone cover linebacker. Regardless, the kid can tackle, no doubt about it. However, I see some serious redflags while watching him. He lines up as an edge occasionally, and he does well at mixing moves at the point of attack. What I find concerning is how stiff he is coming off the line. Another thing, which also impacts his inside linebacker play, is his lack of ability to get off blocks. Too many times I see him engage a blocker and is slow to get off the block to make a tackle. I’m worried about whether he will be able to chase a running back to the sideline and up the field. Lastly, he gets caught up at the line of scrimmage and can lose the ball carrier, which is really frustrating to watch.

What I can offer you is that New England was also interested in the kid, so he is wanted around the league. I don’t know about him being taken 43rd overall, because I think he’s going to be a project player. Patricia will hopefully groom him and that will allow him to be a solid inside linebacker for years to come. I’m not a big fan of this pick, so I’m praying the Lions made the right decision. Also praying we can grab David Long in the next round.