Football Intelligence –Shows good patience in his keys, doesn't bail out at the first sign of a flashing defender. He's pretty sharp before the snap to anticipate ball flow and it shows, given his production despite less than ideal athletic abilities.
Tackling –Heavy hitter when he's able to get you square. He needs to be better to come to balance and not overrun his preferred run fit, but when he catches the ball carrier flush he's capable of violent finishes.
Block Shedding –He has all the functional power needed and flashes some counters to discard of hands. That said, he doesn't offer consistent platform when looking to challenge and will lose a lot of his natural play strength when locking horns at the POA.
Competitive Toughness –Really like his motor and aggressiveness to rally to the football. High motor and plays with aggression, rarely caught lagging behind the football. His functional power is effective when he's balanced...just not always consistent there.
Lateral Mobility –Has necessary range to play in the middle but he's not overly explosive on film and his play speed didn't really flash as a huge plus trait. He feels cracks developing along the POA and does well to preemptively slide into an adjacent gap.
Coverage Skills –He's more comfortable in shallow zone, where his football IQ can shine and allow him to feet routes developing. Has only modest burst and range, so wouldn't task him with a lot of reps turning and running up the field.
Gap Shooting Ability –Really effective when he's anticipating plays because he has the functional play strength to run through stop signs and lateral contact. His aggressive forward push and leverage in doing so create a notable close to the football.
Feet/Change of Direction –Wasn't overly enamored with his lateral mobility or short area quickness, he can get a little greedy as a scrape defender and get out of position without having the pivot or redirection ability to come back into a desired fit.
Flexibility –Didn't see a lot of lower body mobility, which hindered his body control when he is tasked with working out in space. He doesn't offer a lot of lateral bend and tilt to corner with pace off the back side of the football, but he's fine in linear plugs.
First Step Quickness –Thought his burst was best when he was stepping forward into the line of scrimmage, he has enough initial juice to press past a lateral challenge and get into gaps.
BEST TRAIT – Gap Shooting Ability
WORST TRAIT – Contact Balance
BEST FILM – Army (2018)
WORST FILM – Navy (2018)
RED FLAGS – 2018 shoulder INJ
Jahlani Tavai is an intelligent linebacker who has the consistency in his reads needed to be in proper positioning and help a defense. Tavai's challenges stem from him not being the most dynamic functional athlete, he's a bit of a throwback linebacker who doesn't project all that favorably to today's spaced out NFL game. Tavai has a role to play, but I'm not sold on his functional athleticism allowing him a role as a three down linebacker.
ROUND GRADE - Fifth Round