ALLEN PARK, Mich. (AP) — The Detroit Lions have selected their second-straight Florida Gator, taking cornerback Jalen Tabor in the second round with the No. 53 overall pick in the NFL Draft on Friday night.
Detroit desperately needs a cornerback to play on the opposite side of standout Darius Slay and Tabor seems suited for the job. The Lions also addressed a need Thursday by using the No. 21 pick on Florida linebacker Jarrad Davis, who can play against the run or the pass, after releasing injury-prone linebacker DeAndre Levy.
Tabor was expected to be a first-round pick until his lackluster showing at the combine and Florida’s pro day. He ran a 4.62 40-yard dash in Indianapolis and was even slower — running in the 4.7s — inside the Gators’ practice facility.
He skipped his final year of college eligibility to enter the draft. Tabor, who is from Washington, D.C., had 33 tackles, four interceptions — one returned for a touchdown — and a sack last season.
Detroit’s defense has been a priority so far in the draft after being largely overlooked in free agency. The franchise focused on offense, adding veteran linemen Rick Wagner and T.J. Lang to replace departing free agents Riley Reiff and Larry Warford early in the offseason.
The Lions are hoping second-year general manager Bob Quinn can follow up his first draft with another successful series of picks this year. Quinn’s first four picks last year, starting with first-round offensive tackle Taylor Decker, all went on to play key roles during at least some stretches of last season.
Detroit struggled to make game-changing plays on defense last year and has been looking for playmakers on that side of the ball. Its search, clearly, included a couple of former Gators.