LB Jahlani Tavai, Hawai’i

6’2” – 250 lbs. – N/A
Redshirted, then started eleven games at outside linebacker the following year, posting 56-5.0-3.0. Slid inside as a redshirt sophomore and had a highly productive campaign of 129-19.5-7.0. Enjoyed another strong campaign as a junior (124-11.0-5.5), then sustained a season-ending shoulder injury in late October of his senior year; finished with a line of 82-5.5-2.0. Has a thick build, but just average height and length, with arms which measured under 32” in Indianapolis. Played inside and outside for the Warriors, in addition to taking some snaps on the edge from stand-up rusher looks, many of which were bailed out into spot drops. Has an excellent motor in pursuit, playing the game with the type of tenacity teams look for in linebackers. When combined with solid speed, that allows him to play sideline-to-sideline and also to make tackles in space. At his best when he’s allowed to pin his ears back and play downhill against the run. Attacks blockers, gets what extension he can, and is able to scrape down the line and flow toward the ball. Closes well, with some burst into contact; however, can be more of a hitter at times. A little bit of a feast-or-famine player because of his aggressiveness; blows up plays in the backfield but can also be caught out of position and consequently, many of his tackles come well down the field. Doesn’t have the widest tackling radius because of his lack of length. Stayed on the field on passing downs in college. Has some tools to work with as an edge rusher; pretty good explosiveness and bend, especially for more of an off-ball linebacker. Good slap, with the ability to dip his shoulder without noticeably slowing down into the bend. Was also asked to make a lot of spot drops out of edge looks; has quick feet and can get himself into position fast. However, doesn’t have the soundest fundamentals when backpedaling, and overall athleticism is more impressive than his actual feel in zone. An interesting prospect with the size, athleticism, passion, and versatility teams look for in a linebacker, but whose game has inefficiencies because of his aggressiveness, and who doesn’t have ideal length. Sort of a jack-of-all-trades, master-of-none type who may be best as an edge rusher in an odd defensive front at the pro level. Draft stock will be to some extent determined by his medical checks; probably a third-day pick either way.

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