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2017 NFL Draft Preview: CB Teez Tabor

© Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Jalen “Teez” Tabor is an athletic cornerback prospect, but can his skillset transition to the NFL?

Over the course of the weeks leading up to the 2017 NFL Draft, we will take a look at the top NFL prospects at each position. We look now into the defensive back position. Today we look at Jalen “Teez” Tabor of the University of Florida. 

College Career

Tabor is part of a strong pipeline of defensive backs coming to the NFL from Florida, a group that includes other highly touted prospect Quincy Wilson, as well as current NFL players Vernon Hargreaves III and Keanu Neal. Tabor was first team All-SEC at cornerback his sophomore and junior years, recording a combined eight interceptions and 20 pass breakups over those two seasons. He also earned AP third team All-American for his efforts this season. 

Here’s a sampling of the best highlights of Tabor’s college career: 


Pros

Tabor is a prototypical cornerback in terms of his size, build, and athletic ability. At 6‘0” and 199 lbs. with 32-inch arms, he is the perfect size for a corner. He has great athletic ability, including great acceleration and quickness that allows him to recover and contest throws to larger receivers. He allowed only four catches of more than 20 yards in this past season because of his ability to recover quickly. 

What sets Tabor apart are his ball skills, especially when he is playing off a receiver and has the ability to cut a route and make a play on the ball. His vision and ability to anticipate throws and routes makes him ready to step into an NFL defense, as Tabor demonstrates in this clip: 


Tabor is also a very physical corner, but effective in terms of his physicality. He only accrued six penalties last season, and three of those came in one game. His physicality combined with his size helps him against larger receivers and in the short passing game. His size and speed also gives him the ability to be effective in man and zone schemes. 

Cons

While Tabor is quick and can accelerate well, he does not have a lot of pure, straight-line speed, and that can be exploited in the deep passing game. With a time of 4.62 seconds in the 40-yard dash, Tabor does have some burn-ability for the faster receivers in the NFL today, as demonstrated by this 67-yard touchdown Tabor allowed against Jauan Jennings of Tennessee: 


Tabor is also not a very sure tackler, especially in the running game. He missed 16 of 110 tackle attempts in his college career, and has a tendency to dive at the feet of a ball carrier rather than square up and make a tackle in the open field. 

Tabor does have a great ability to jump routes, but his eagerness to jump routes can make him lose his assignments, especially in zone coverage. He will have to make adjustments in the NFL because quarterbacks love to take advantage of over-eager cornerbacks who are trying to jump routes. 

The Verdict

There is little doubt that Tabor has great NFL talent. He has good size and quickness that will translate to the NFL, but he can struggle at times in the deep game against faster NFL receivers. His ability to read defenses will be helpful in zone or man pass defense schemes, and he will probably end up with at least decent interception numbers in the NFL

Tabor will not immediately step in and be a number one corner in a great defense the way other corners in the draft might (especially Marshon Lattimore), but Tabor can immediately step in and be a good number two corner and has the potential to be a number one corner in the NFL. Tabor is not necessarily the best at any particular skill among the cornerbacks available in the 2017 NFL Draft, but his overall ability across multiple skills in the passing game makes him a solid mid-to-late first round pick who could potentially fall to the early second round if teams get scared by Tabor’s lack of vertical speed. 

Best Fit

Tabor’s great athletic ability and high upside as an NFL cornerback allow him to fit into a lot of different teams — teams that are both young and developing that can allow Tabor to develop with them, or teams that are more established and can allow Tabor to develop in an environment where he does not have a lot of pressure on him to be a number one cornerback. 

There are teams early in the first round who could be looking for a cornerback, including the New York Jets and the Carolina Panthers, but I don’t think anybody will pull the trigger on Tabor that early. The first couple of teams in the right range in the first round that seem to be good fits for Tabor are the Arizona Cardinals and Philadelphia Eagles at 13th and 14th overall. 

If Tabor starts to slip past those teams, Tabor could find himself with any number of teams in the second round looking for help at the cornerback position, including the Chicago Bears, New Orleans Saints, and Buffalo Bills (who lost Stephon Gilmore in the off-season to the Patriots). 

Ultimately, Tabor has a lot of potential, but in such a deep cornerback draft with teams having wildly different evaluation methods, Tabor can fit in at a wide variety of teams looking for an upgrade at CB2 or looking for a long-term CB1 prospect. 

Edited by Emily Berman, Coleman Gray.

SQuiz
Which NFL team draft former Florida cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III?
Created 3/15/17
  1. Atlanta Falcons
  2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
  3. New York Giants
  4. Seattle Seahawks

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