Jahlani Tavai

Hawaii
LB

Prospect Info

College
Hawaii
Hometown
Class
Inglewood, CA
Senior
Height
Weight
Arms
6' 2"
250 lbs
31 7/8”
Hands
9”

Prospect Grade

5.40
NFL Backup or Special Teams Potential
How We Grade

2019 Draft Results

Drafted by
Detroit
Lions
Round 2 ‧ Pick 11
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Playlist

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
Overview
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.
Strengths
  • 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
Weaknesses
  • 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

News

The Debrief

Winners and losers from Day 2 of the 2019 NFL Draft

Five best value picks from Day 2: Bears nail Montgomery selection

Winners and losers from Round 1 of the 2019 NFL Draft

2019 NFL Draft: The five best value picks of Round 1

GRADE
9.00-10
Once-in-lifetime player
8.00-8.99
Perennial All-Pro
7.50-7.99
Future All-Pro
7.00-7.49
Pro Bowl-caliber player
6.50-6.99
Chance to become Pro Bowl-caliber player
6.00-6.49
Should become instant starter
5.50-5.99
Chance to become NFL starter
5.20-5.49
NFL backup or special teams potential
5.01-5.19
Better-than-average chance to make NFL roster
5.00
50-50 Chance to make NFL roster
4.75-4.99
Should be in an NFL training camp
4.50-4.74
Chance to be in an NFL training camp
NO GRADE
Likely needs time in developmental league