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By: Shae Dougall
Jalen Tabor, CB, Florida
Florida vs Alabama (2016)
Florida vs LSU (2016)
Florida vs Florida State (2016)
Teez Tabor can do a little bit of everything. He’s a very experienced, successful cornerback from Florida whose claim to fame is a rock-solid, consistent, high-quality presence in a very good group of DBs. Despite having fairly slow straight-line speed, he has that undefinable “quickness” quality that scouts love to talk about. Tabor was made to play more off-coverage, as he’s more of a finesse guy who would probably get beaten consistently downfield if he was forced to press big, fast receivers all the time.
Tabor is going to be a bit of a risk-taker in the NFL if his college tape is any indication. This will result in some picks, but will also result in some big plays going the other way. A team with a good group of safeties that play over the top would likely be the ideal fit for Tabor, because some of the craftier QBs will be able to take advantage of his gambling. Tabor is also not the biggest guy in the world, and much like Tre’Davious White, I’m concerned that his lack of size will result in him not only getting boxed out of quick routes, but also getting beat over the top. His vertical jump from the combine was only 31 inches, and he did struggle with deep speed at times in college.
Play Recognition: 10 out of 10
The reason Tabor was so successful in college was due in large part to his ability to read the quarterback’s eyes and adjust to the receiver quickly. Since Tabor is not a once-in-a-lifetime type of athlete (not even close, really), he has clearly honed his play recognition skills to make up for these deficiencies. His read and react capability is off the charts, making a few plays where he actually left his assignment to follow a play that he knew was developing elsewhere on the field. This can also be viewed as a negative I suppose, but he seems to be instinctive and smart enough to understand when to take risks.
Speed: 3 out of 5
Tabor disappointed at the combine with a slow 4.6 40 time. Per NFL.com, there are also “whispers” that Tabor “fears deep speed”, which is evidenced by the amount of off coverage he played at Florida. I’m not that plugged in, unfortunately, but I did see several situations on tape where Tabor was pressing the receiver and backed off more than 8 yards before the play started. He has quick recovery time when the ball is in the air, but his penchant for getting beat over the top is concerning.
Mirroring: 10 out of 10
Even when pressing, Tabor’s mirroring ability is excellent. He sticks to receivers coming out of cuts like glue, consistently providing tight man-to-man coverage.
Pursuit: 4 out of 5
While Tabor isn’t going to catch up to any plays that are over his head, he has a very solid ability to chase down plays that develop on the other side of the field. More than once on tape (especially against LSU), I saw opposing quarterbacks scramble out of a collapsing pocket only to be chased down by Tabor once the line of scrimmage had been crossed.
Man: 12 out of 15
Tabor will be a good man coverage corner, as he is consistently able to read the play and mirror his receiver on shorter and intermediate routes. His deep coverage ability is a concern, though, especially with the precision deep passing of NFL quarterbacks. I’d also like to see Tabor get more physical at the line of scrimmage, but I don’t believe that his lack of physicality is unfixable or even necessarily undesirable. His desire to be physical at the line is probably affected by his knowledge of his own limitations on deep routes.
Zone: 14 out of 15
Tabor may be the best zone corner in this draft with his uncanny instincts and penchant for reading the quarterback’s eyes. Would be an ideal fit for a team that runs a lot of zone coverage. I expect some infrequent gambling-related breakdowns in zone coverage on trick plays and misdirection passing plays. Luckily, Tabor mostly knows when to hold ‘em, and when to fold ‘em.
Press: 3 out of 5
I don’t foresee an NFL future in which Tabor is playing much bump-and-run coverage. Tabor can press effectively on occasion, but Florida didn’t ask him to do much of it because it’s clearly not a strength of his.
Tackle: 3.5 out of 5
He’s not the best tackling cornerback out there, but he’s not the worst. Once the receiver is well-covered, he’s certainly not getting any yards after the catch. Open field tackles are more of a weakness though; Tabor was occasionally out of position to tackle on deep routes where the receiver wasn’t his responsibility but he was in the area.
Ball Skills: 5 out of 5
Tabor has great hands and the ability to affect the ball in the air. He’s also great at punching the ball out of the receiver’s outstretched hands, which I saw on more than one occasion. He finished his Florida career with 9 interceptions, an impressive number.
Tackle: 3 out of 5
This is a difficult category to speak to because I rarely saw Tabor stick his nose into a pile of guys and bring the runner down. I’m pretty sure he can do it because he can bring down receivers pretty consistently, but without seeing him take on the toughest college backs (even when Florida played LSU, I don’t recall seeing Tabor vs. Fournette on any occasion), I think it’s hard to be 100% certain.
Play Recognition: 4 out of 5
I caught Tabor out of position on a trick run play against LSU, but that was a special circumstance. I can assume that he usually realizes when the run is developing, similarly to how he always seems to know where the pass is going to go.
Willingness: 2 out of 5
He is not an eager participant in run support, but he will get involved if it looks like the play is getting serious or if he is the last line of defense. Usually he gets swallowed up by a block and lets somebody else do the dirty work.
Injury: 8 out of 10
This template is a bit flawed in the sense that I’m allowed to talk about a prospect’s injury history but not his suspension history. Tabor was suspended in college a couple of times, and it’s always difficult to say how that will translate to the NFL. It’s definitely a concern. Even though injury isn’t an issue with Tabor, I would say that it’s reasonable to see him miss some time for other, less wholesome reasons.
Total Prospect Rating: 81.5 out of 100
Pro Comparison: Asante Samuel
Okay, this is too easy. I don’t even have to write a lot. What other NFL player in the past 15 years gambled more and tackled less than Asante Samuel? He was also a good guesser, resulting in a lot of interceptions. I maintain that Samuel could have extended his career into his mid-40s if he had just switched to a situational free safety that had a contract requirement that he wasn’t allowed to tackle anybody.