“With the 43rd pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, the Detroit Lions select Jahlani Tavai, University of Hawaiʻi.”
The move confounded NFL fans around the country, but it came as no surprise to Hawaiʻi fans who have watched linebacker Jahlani Tavai over the last four years.
Despite an injury-shortened senior season, Tavai wraps up his UH career ranked second all-time in school history with 391 tackles. The four-year starter also finished with 220 career solo tackles.
Detroit selects LB Jahlani Tavai out of @HawaiiFootball in round two!— PFF Draft (@PFF_College) April 27, 2019
Tavai only played 252 defensive snaps in 2018, but he still logged an impressive 23 defensive stops in the run game and earned a 76.5 run-defense grade #NFLDraft https://t.co/dvj2KnZbRE
Tavai was one of my favorite players in this draft. "Out of sight, out of mind" for many because he played at Hawaii and his shoulder kept him from the Senior Bowl and Combine.— Dane Brugler (@dpbrugler) April 27, 2019
But Tavis is an ideal modern day LB. Inside-out versatility and can play any down. https://t.co/mAZWUKDuPy
Tavai was thrice selected to an all-Mountain West team. He is the first Mountain West Conference player off the board in this year’s draft.
The first UH player to be drafted since the Tampa Bay Buccaneers selected Joey Iosefa in 2015, Tavai is now tied with Pisa Tinoisamoa (43rd overall) for the third-highest draft pick to come out of UH, behind Ashley Lelie (19th overall) and Travis LaBoy (42nd overall).
It’s unclear how Detroit plans to use him, as they currently have 2017 first-round pick Jarrad Davis at middle linebacker. Tavai has experience playing both middle and outside linebacker. He spent the last three seasons as the Rainbow Warriors middle linebacker, but played outside during his freshman year.