Detroit Cornerback Jalen “Teez” Tabor Runs Back An Interception Against Missouri, October 2016.
Night two of the 2017 NFL Draft was an interesting night for the Detroit Lions and their fans. A lot of people were already criticizing Lions general manager Bob Quinn for selecting Jarrad Davis the night before, despite a superior talent in Reuben Foster still being on the board. Would he dare go against the fans and media and make another controversial selection in round two? Of course, he would.
With other solid cornerbacks available, Bob Quinn decided to go with Teez Tabor. Once considered a surefire first round pick, the ball hawking Tabor’s stock fell due to a poor 40 yard dash and a shoddy hamstring. With speed being such a valued attribute for NFL corners in the modern game it’s easy to see why other teams passed but, you can also tell what Quinn saw in him. Tabor possesses elite instincts and awareness that put other corners on the roster, not named Darius Slay, to shame. These are skills that you simply, cannot coach.
Year one was a bit of an anomaly for Tabor. He spent the first half of the season recovering from his hamstring injury, was a healthy scratch for six games, and played sparingly when he was active. There’s definitely a lack of experience there, but if you can point to one game as his true rookie showcase, it has to be the Tampa Bay game.
Tabor effectively shut down Buccaneers star receiver Mike Evans while he was on the field. Evans is a true number one receiver in the NFL and even though he’s not the fastest guy out there (4.52s 40-time) he’s produced multiple terrific seasons while matched up against most of the game’s top corners week after week. Corner is typically a position where rookies struggle the most, yet Tabor has shown potential to shut down number one’s already in his young career.
There’s certainly a cap on Tabor’s potential due to the lack of top end speed, but another reason to believe that he can thrive is the arrival of new Lions head coach Matt Patricia. All that we’ve been hearing since Patricia came to Detroit is that he’s going to formulate the defensive scheme to fit the players that he has.
I’m confident that coach Patricia can find a way to put Tabor in positions that can minimize the exploitation of his weaknesses and maximize Tabor’s awesome playmaking abilities. With what we’ve seen from Tabor already and what we know about Patricia, there’s no reason not to believe that Tabor could be a significant contributor from here on out.
There’s going to be a logjam at CB2 going into training camp, with Tabor, Nevin Lawson, and DeShawn Shead all battling for that starting spot opposite Darius Slay. It’ll be very interesting to see who comes out on top, but with the amount of draft capital spent to get Tabor and the ability that he has, my hope is that he will win that job and maintain it for years to come.
Also, for the more superstitious fans out there, Tabor will be switching his jersey to number 31 this season. Darius Slay made a significant jump when he switched to number 23 for his second season, after a forgettable rookie campaign.