After heading to Florida earlier in the week to learn a thing or two about Jarrad Davis, I realized halfway to the airport that the Lions had also drafted another Gator in the second round. So I instead headed to the beach to work on my tan before I learned about Teez Tabor.
What’s in a 40 time? Narratives, that’s what. When mock drafts came out during the 2016 season, many of them had Tabor going in the first round. Some had him going well before the Lions would be on the clock. Then the combine came.
It’s true that Tabor had a bad day. But is that any reflection of the type of player he is? Well that’s what I wanted to ask Andy Hutchins of Alligator Army. First I had to find him.
I looked everywhere. I went to the Florida museum of Natural History, Loblolly Woods Nature Park and Alfred A.Ring Park. Finally I found him just eating a pizza at Blaze Pizza, which is close to the stadium. I probably should have checked there first. Here’s Andy’s thought on Tabor.
POD: What are your thoughts on Teez's time as a Gator?
AA: “I think Teez grew more than basically any other Gator ever in his time at Florida. He came in as a cocky five-star corner, went through some humbling over his first two years, and came out as a (mostly) mature leader of the team as a junior, publicly changing his name to Teez from Jalen and making the most of his time in the spotlight.
I don't know if he quite lived up to the five-star billing he had, but Florida's foes also generally weren't challenging him by the end of 2016, and his most prominent failing on the field was a result of him tripping on a route at Tennessee, not any sort of obviously blown coverage. He also made big plays when he could, once picking off a pass by literally wrestling a catch away from a receiver and thrice pick-sixing opponents, and was never a liability in coverage.”
POD: What are his strengths?
AA: “I think Tabor has a deep understanding of how to play corner, and the mentality to compete as a corner in the NFL, and I think he's had those for years now. He's a wizard at the tugs and touches that corners use to control a receiver, and compensates for his lack of elite athleticism with instincts that sometimes put him where the ball is going before it gets there. He's also got good, if not great, size for the position, and active hands that rarely fail to at least impact the catch.”
POD: What are his weaknesses?
AA: “Obviously, Tabor isn't the fastest player to ever play corner. He can be quick in short spaces, but he is not a fireball in cleats, and he's not going to turn and run with the fastest of the fast in the NFL. By virtue of his handsy play, he's also going to be constantly on the verge of getting called for pass interference, and won't have the leeway granted to veterans that might prevent some of those flags from being thrown.”
POD: Tabor was originally slated to go much higher, does his poor combine really show the kind of player he is? Or is he just better in pads?
AA: “I think Tabor's Combine and Pro Day performances suggest that he 1) did not really train to make himself faster in the months leading up to the Draft and 2) is better in pads than he is in shorts. I don't know that I thought his junior year (or Florida career) was spectacular enough to make him the first-round pick that many thought he would be, but I also thought that too much was made about those 40-yard dashes, especially given that Tabor was really not getting toasted like one would expect a "slow" corner to be as a Gator.
If Tabor gets burned early and often in his career, those times will get discussed endlessly, to be sure. But I just don't buy that he suddenly became something other than a competent, clever corner in fewer than five seconds in Indianapolis after being that player for three years in Gainesville -- and I'd guess that the Lions agree with that assessment.”
I’m not sure I could have put it any better than Andy did. A bad combine performance doesn’t change what the player put in or what the player will do in the NFL. Just as a great combine doesn’t make a player a certified star.
I’d also have to agree with Andy on the narrative that will undoubtedly surround his career if he has some early rookie woes. It’s almost as if Tabor could be the Eric Ebron of the defense for the Lions fans.
I see it differently. I see a steal here for the Lions. They got a player that was a first-round talent until he had a bad day in spandex. I’m positive that Tabor will soon find himself firmly planted on the other side of Darius Slay on the Lions depth chart. Let’s hope that’s sooner rather than later.