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2019 NFL Draft results: Detroit Lions select LB Jahlani Tavai in second round

The Lions have selected a linebacker in the second round of the 2019 NFL Draft.

NCAA Football: Hawaii at UCLA Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

After selecting Iowa tight end T.J. Hockenson in the first round, the Detroit Lions have followed up that pick with the second-round selection of Hawaii linebacker Jahlani Tavai.

This pick certainly comes as a pretty big surprise for most fans and analysts. With a few popular cornerbacks on the board, like Greedy Williams, Justin Layne or David Long, the Lions decided to go with a linebacker many had pegged for Day 3 in the draft.

Tavai was a four-year starter at Hawaii, racking up 390 tackles, 41 tackles for loss and 16.5 sacks over 47 games played.

Since he’s a relative unknown, I’ll differ to our friends at Arrowhead Pride and this profile of Tavai:

His comfort level as a rush SAM, MIKE and WILL linebacker in a 4-3 Under system make him a perfect player to groom behind the Chiefs starters. He has good range and exceptional short-area quickness. This quickness allows him to trigger downhill and meet the ball carrier with full force in the gap. He’s long enough to set the EDGE in the run game and will give little ground against blocking tight ends. In man coverage, he shows plenty of ability to drop and carry players vertically, as well as being able to kick out into the flats against a running back. He regularly disrupts the quarterback with his blitzing ability, making him a good fit with Spagnuolo’s higher blitz tendencies.

One big concern with Tavai is a serious shoulder injury that limited him to just eight games in his senior year.

As for his fit in Detroit, he gives the Lions some much-needed depth at the linebacker position. He could potentially take up Christian Jones’ spot on the starting roster, or could even slide into middle linebacker, moving Jarrad Davis to an outside more pass rushing position.

Of course, that’s all assuming Tavai is as good as the Lions are expecting. Not many analysts had Tavai going as early as Day 2, so there’s a lot of trust happening here in Detroit’s scouting team.

Lions remaining picks

  • Round 3, Pick 25 (88 overall)
  • Round 4, Pick 9 (111 overall)
  • Round 5, Pick 8 (146 overall)
  • Round 6, Pick 11 (184 overall)
  • Round 6, Pick 32 (204 overall)
  • Round 7, Pick 10 (224 overall)
  • Round 7, Pick 15 (229 overall)

Top remaining needs for Lions:

  • Guard
  • Cornerback
  • Tight end
  • Wide receiver
  • EDGE
  • Linebacker
  • Safety
  • Backup QB

NFL Draft schedule


What: Rounds 2-3 of the NFL Draft
When: Friday, April 26, 7 p.m. ET
Where: Nashville, TN
Time per pick: Round 2: 7 minutes; Round 3: 5 minutes

Estimated time of Lions picks:

  • Pick 88 overall: ~10:36 p.m ET


What: Rounds 4-7 of the NFL Draft
When: Saturday, April 27, Noon ET
Where: Nashville, TN
TV: NFL Network, ESPN, ABC
Time per pick: Rounds 4-6: 5 minutes; Round 7: 4 minutes

Estimated time of Lions picks:

  • Pick 111 overall: ~12:36 p.m. ET
  • Pick 146 overall: ~2:12 p.m. ET
  • Pick 184 overall: ~3:55 p.m. ET
  • Pick 204 overall: ~4:54 p.m. ET
  • Pick 224 overall: ~5:38 p.m. ET
  • Pick 229 overall: ~5:49 p.m. ET

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