Tabor on his selling point: ‘Just press play’

Landon Watnick, Beat Writer
Inside the Gators

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The 2017 NFL Scouting Combine was a mostly forgettable outing for former Florida cornerback Jalen “Teez” Tabor. After bench pressing 225 pounds just nine times, he ran a 4.62 40-yard dash, tied for the worst among participating cornerbacks.

Pro Day presented a redemptive opportunity, but Tabor also struggled in some drills Tuesday inside of the indoor practice facility. Notably, he posted a 40-yard dash in the 4.7-second range.

"It is what it is. I ran as fast as I can run,” Tabor said. “I've been a 4.6 guy, but it's so shocking because you don't see it on film. That's the great thing about it. You see 4.3 guys and you're like 'he run 4.3? He's getting beat over the top every game, what are you doing?' So I run 4.6 but it's shocking to y'all because it doesn't show, it doesn't seem like that on film."

However, Tabor doesn’t believe a 40 time defines him. The argument he made during his time with reporters Tuesday is that his film speaks for itself – after all, Tabor finished with four interceptions, six pass breakups, a fumble recovery, a sack and 33 tackles as a junior in 2016 before declaring for the draft.

"Let me ask you that question: If you was hiring somebody, would you make them do stuff that they wouldn't do on the job and then evaluate them? Or would you evaluate them on what they do on the job?" Tabor argued.

"Just press play. I already did everything I could do. Just press play, you know what I mean? That's what I do. I'm pretty sure I've got more picks than a lot of the top guys. I'm pretty sure I've got more touchdowns, probably more touchdowns than they got picks. I don't get it. They say I'm slow, but I'm not getting beat that way and I'm beating people back this way.

"Yeah, I'm not a track guy. If we was trying out for the Olympics, I wouldn’t be here. The thing is we're going to the NFL. I'm catching picks and running back this way, jamming people at the line. So I'm a good football player. When it comes 53 yards this way and 120 yards this way, I'm the best. Now, you line me up, I might not beat you in the race, but reading routes and all that stuff, it's no question."

However, Tabor was able to draw some positives from his experience at Pro Day on Tuesday, including his 32-inch vertical jump.

"My short shuttle. Stop and start. That was pretty good,” Tabor said. “I think I got an inch higher from the vertical at the Combine (31 inches). So did some pretty good drill work. I felt pretty good."

"It is what it is. I mean, it's not going to be my loss if you pass on me. I'm going to be in this league for a long time. Somebody could lose their job if they pass on me, so I ain't mad at it."

When meeting with the media briefly during Pro Day, Florida head coach Jim McElwain rang a similar tone as Tabor, selling his former standout cornerback while praising what he could bring to the table for an NFL team.

“Even in talking to these guys it’s about what you put on film. Ultimately, all these drills do is either possibly confirm or put some things into it,” McElwain said. “Guys, he plays at fast, fast level. And you guys that have covered us, I don’t know if he’s ever been beaten and he’s chased guys down when he’s had to. On a double-move here and there, he might have got beaten, but at the same time, he plays on film and puts on film that the speed is not an issue. And I think that’s exactly what a lot of these guys have talked about.

“You’re talking about a long corner, a guy that’s got size and short-space quickness and yet played at a high level against really good players. … Unbelievable ball skills, great instincts, loves the game, really good teammate, good in the locker room. And really communicates and helps the people get better around him.”

One question NFL teams have had about Tabor have been his off-the-field issues. In the summer of 2014, Tabor was cited for marijuana possession. After serving a suspension in 2015 for reportedly refusing to take a drug test, he was suspended for the season-opener against UMass in 2016 following a notorious practice altercation with tight end C’yontai Lewis.

"I just was up front. I made a couple of mistakes when I was young,” Tabor said. “Everybody was 18, 19, 20 years old at one point in time in their life, and everybody's done some things they wished they could have back, including myself. That's all I expressed to them, that I was young, immature decisions and I learned from it."

Added McElwain: “He’s got great character. And here’s the good thing, he’s learned from it. He’s never been a problem in any stretch of the imagination. He’s a guy we’re better when he’s on the field and that’s pretty obvious. He makes the guys around him better.”

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Alex Shepherd/Inside the Gators

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