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2017 Detroit Lions roster review: Is Teez Tabor ready to become a starter in 2018?

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Chicago Bears v Detroit Lions Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Our review of the Detroit Lions’ 2017 roster continues with their second-round pick Teez Tabor. For a second-round pick, many believed Tabor’s rookie year was a disappointment. But was that always part of the plan or did the Lions have to temper expectations after making the draft pick? Let’s take a look at Tabor’s 2017 season.

Teez Tabor

Expectations for 2017

After the Lions drafted Tabor, there were a lot of mixed feelings about where he would fit in with the team immediately. The Lions had already gone out and signed DJ Hayden in free agency and were loaded with talent at cornerback. Darius Slay, Nevin Lawson and Quandre Diggs all had starting experience and all had shined at some point in their career.

So the odds were stacked against Tabor to be an impact player from the start, even after being selected so high in the NFL Draft. Once training camp started and Tabor struggled to keep up with his peers, it was evident he wasn’t going to get legitimate playing time for at least the first month of the season.

Actual role in 2017

2017 stats: 10 games (1 start): 14 tackles, 0 passes defended
PFF grade: 61.3 (below average)

As expected, Tabor didn’t get any relevant playing time on defense for the first half of the season. He made a brief debut in Week 6 against the Saints, but didn’t really get any true playing time until Week 9 against the Packers. Once Tavon Wilson was lost for the season and Quandre Diggs moved to safety, Tabor’s playing time increased. He earned his first start in the season on Week 16 against the Bengals, and with Nevin Lawson out due to an injury, Tabor was expected to get a full load of snaps in the season finale. Unfortunately, Tabor suffered an arm in the first quarter and did not return.

Tabor’s play was up and down in his limited opportunities. At times, he looked like the real deal, like when he disrupted a red zone pass to Mike Evans in Tampa.

But other times, he struggled to keep up with the speed of the NFL. After a surprisingly low 40-yard dash time at the NFL Combine and the Florida Pro Day, Tabor’s speed was the biggest concern. It wasn’t a huge problem in 2017, but it did pop up at times.

Outlook for 2018

Contract status: Signed through 2020

There’s no question Tabor will be on the team in 2018, but will he be a starter? The Lions have yet to make a decision on Lawson and Hayden, both of whom are set to become free agents next week. Should both be let go, the path would be paved for Tabor to assume the No. 2 corner position opposite Slay.

But is he ready? Slay, a former second-round pick himself, became the Lions’ full-time starter in his second year, and picked up an impressive 17 pass breakups that season. Tabor will have to improve drastically this offseason to take on that role, but general manager Bob Quinn was impressed with how he finished 2017.

“Teez had a solid rookie year,” Quinn said at the NFL Combine last week. “We started him off slow on purpose to kind of get his feet wet a little bit before we threw him out there. The more he played down the stretch, I think the better he played.”

Detroit is almost certainly going to bring in competition to push Tabor in 2018. That being said, if Tabor isn’t in a starting role by the end of the 2018 season, it will be an extremely disappointing start to his career.

Poll

When will Teez Tabor be a starter for the Lions?

This poll is closed

  • 31%
    At the beginning of the 2018 season
    (373 votes)
  • 51%
    By the end of the 2018 season
    (619 votes)
  • 9%
    2019
    (109 votes)
  • 8%
    Never
    (97 votes)
1198 votes total Vote Now