NAME: Jahlani Tavai
CLASS: RS Senior
JERSEY: No. 28
RECRUITMENT RATING: 2-star
WT: 235 lbs
PROS: Smart linebacker whose best plays come from heady work before/at the snap. Will quickly diagnose how the offense is attacking, likely with good film study supporting his inferences, and beat blockers to the spot. Has some decent flexibility to work through tight angles and get involved on tackles/slow down runners in tight quarters. Will activate his hands with only average power, but does well to keep his chest plate clean. Does a good job balancing instincts and discipline — is unafraid of attacking what he sees, but rarely loses to misdirection and often sniffs it out earlier than most defenders. A good blitzer who is deployed as such frequently.
CONS: Tentative when approaching tackles. Often waits on his heels for contact to come to him, surrendering yardage and the opportunity to deliver a strike/make an impact play. Drag-down tackler who can be shaken in space. Lacks requisite NFL athleticism, especially in space, which does not bode well given how his frame projects to NFL play. Doesn’t have significant closing burst and greatly labors when asked to work sideline-to-sideline. Angles are generally too sharp to the line of scrimmage and he loses the corner.
Cannot be trusted in coverage. Has little experience in zone, and accordingly his awareness and understanding when tasked with even simple zone responsibilities is limited. Fails to feel routes and react to quarterbacks’ eyes. In rare man coverage reps, athletic limitations once again show up. Skills translate to a box MIKE, but frame translates to a space WILL.
– Benjamin Solak