Jahlani Tavai.....your thoughts?

I know he’s a rookie from a smaller school but I’m not seeing ANYthing special about him.
I mean, he’s got the size that New England seems to like but he seems awfully stiff and a liability in the passing game.
He looks like another pick we reached for IMO.

What are you guys thoughts on him?


I think he has the makings of a great MLB. He has instincts that you can’t coach, and skills that you can.
All he lacks is top end speed, but, where he works, you rarely have to fast as much as quick. Two very different things.

yeah I haven’t been impressed, always seems a step or two behind in speed to make a defensive play . I don’t know if that’s due to lack of PT/experience , skill, or effort?

He’s a rookie. He’s made some great plays. You have to expect some growing pains.


Tavai to me was rushed into playing and should not have been . He is a 2 down LB and when in passing situations he should be rushing the passer …injuries forced Patricia’s hand to not use Tavai the way he has been thus far and really has no business dropping back into coverage unless that coverage is zone .

Tavai is a rarity with his size and versatility but to much has been put on his plate early . He is not a sideline to sideline coverage LB he is supposed to clog lanes and shed and make tackles and pass rush in obvious passing situations from multiple spots . I think the future is bright for Tavai in this scheme .


Meh…but he’s just a rookie and hopefully gets better! Looks kinda slow to me

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Tavai is one of those guys that once I saw him on an NFL field, I quickly realized the appeal. The guy belongs, and looked the part right from the beginning.


Jahlani Tavai




Prospect Info










6’ 2"

250 lbs

31 7/8”



Prospect Grade






2019 Draft Results




Detroit Lions

Round 2 ‧ Pick 11



Lions select Jahlani Tavai No. 43 in the 2019 draft

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Player Bio

Jahlani Tavai (pronounced jah-lan-ee tah-VIE) is the third member of his family to play college football. One brother, Jordan, was a defensive lineman at Kansas while another, J.R., played linebacker at USC and for the Tennessee Titans. As a redshirt freshman, Tavai started 11 of 13 games played (56 tackles, five for loss, three sacks). He was a first-team All-Mountain West pick in 2016, starting all 14 games and leading the conference with 19.5 tackles for loss (129 total, seven sacks). He was a second-team all-conference selection in 2017, ranking 10th in the FBS with 124 tackles and leading his team with 11 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks. In his senior season, he was suspended for the season opener due to a June arrest for assault at a Honolulu night club and then missed the last month of the season with a shoulder injury. Tavai was named honorable mention all-conference after recording 82 tackles (5.5 for loss, two sacks, forced fumble, blocked kick) in just eight starts.


By Lance Zierlein

NFL Analyst

Draft Projection

Rounds 4-5

NFL Comparison

Anthony Walker


While the level of competition wasn’t always noteworthy, his impact production was. In a draft that is heavy on undersized, uber-productive linebackers, Tavai offers an NFL frame, good play strength, an aggressive demeanor and almost 10 tackles per game over the last three seasons. He’s not overly explosive, but his decisiveness and motor are play traits that should serve him well as a pro. He could be a good three-down backup who could develop into an eventual starter inside.


  • Aggressive field demeanor
  • Plays with knock-back pop against tight ends
  • Pro-ready hands punch and separate at point of attack
  • Eyes play beyond his blocker
  • Rabid finding the ball and making the tackle
  • Adequate short-area acceleration Nimble to avoid foot traffic and continue flow to the ball Makes well-timed adjustments in pursuit angles
  • Rugby tackler with accurate aim to the hip
  • Has tools to rush or drop on passing downs
  • Works hands effectively as blitzer
  • Finds seam routes and faces them up in man


  • Will miss Senior Bowl and Combine due to shoulder injury
  • Hustles in pursuit, but top speed looks average
  • More active and frenetic than explosive
  • Needs to play off blocks more quickly
  • Has to stay disciplined to snuff out back-side cuts Could struggle in pure man coverage
  • Tackle technique can be segmented with feet stopping to load and explode hips
  • Misses tackles when he leaves his feet behind

He looks the part of a 5th round talent. Which is exactly where he should’ve been taken. This pick is ikaika alama francis 2.0. It’s a bad pick and a major reach. At best you have a serviceable 2 down thumper. At worst he is out of the league in 4 years. He will probably be out of the league in 4 years. He is not great on special teams, either. Don’t see him sticking long.


Yeah, that’s kind of where I’m at as well. I don’t wanna crap on the kid but he looks like exactly what Lance Zeurlein says, a NFL backup or special teams player that should have been a 4th or 5th round pick, possibly at the end of the 3rd because of his size but shoulder injury + not having great speed should have made him undraftable until after the 2nd round, not 11 picks after the end of the 1st round.

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Tackles Def Int Fumbles
Year School Conf Class Pos G Solo Ast Tot Loss Sk Int Yds Avg TD PD FR Yds TD FF
2015 Hawaii MWC FR LB 13 27 29 56 5.0 3.0 0 0 0 0 0 0
*2016 Hawaii MWC SO LB 14 85 43 128 19.5 6.0 1 0 0.0 0 2 2 2
2017 Hawaii MWC JR LB 12 66 58 124 11.0 5.5 1 8 8.0 0 1 1 0
*2018 Hawaii MWC SR LB 8 42 40 82 5.5 2.0 0 0 0 2 0 1
Career Hawaii 220 170 390 41.0 16.5 2 8 4.0 0 5 3 3

Nothing eye-popping about his college stats.

If Quinn doesn’t cut Tavai before this Sunday’s game, he should be fired immediately.


The patriots would pick him up and he would be a pro bowler. :crazy_face:


Too soon to tell how much better he gets, if any. Not saying he won’t surprise to the upside, but not saying he will either. I wonder if the next DC will be a god thing for him or uh, otherwise. I kinda think a new DC is gonna happen, and if so how does that change things for the guys we have now.

I like Tavai, I haven’t seen why went 2nd round but he’s decent.

Its shocking with how slow he is he’s the only linebacker that can even kind of cover.

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Oh, brother.


PS Bring Back Clint Kriewaldt


I actually think he is going to turn into a solid player. He has shown play making ability but they are mixed with slow reactions some of the time. That is to be expected from most rookies. Things will slow down for him and he will rely more and more on his instincts (which seem to be good).

Tom Beer


He’s doing okay…For a fourth round pick.