The Detroit Lions waited until the 53rd pick of the NFL draft last April to select Florida cornerback Teez Tabor.
But listeners and readers of the Talk of Fame Network don’t expect Tabor to wait as long to have an impact on the NFL. That was the subject of our weekly poll – which rookie cornerback will have the best season in 2017 – and Tabor won, outpolling six candidates on the ballot that were drafted higher than him.
The second-place finisher, Chidobe Awuzie of the Dallas Cowboys, was the only player on the ballot who was drafted after Tabor. Awuzie received 30 percent of the vote to finish back of Tabor at 35 percent. Oakland’s Gareon Conley was next at 11 percent, followed by Green Bay’s Kenny King with nine percent support. First-rounders Marlon Humphrey, Adoree Jackson, Marshon Lattimore and Tre’Davious White all received less than five percent of the vote.
The three hosts of the Talk of Fame Network – Ron Borges, Rick Gosselin and Clark Judge – all cast their ballots for a different corner. Borges went Tabor, Gosselin picked Awuzie and Judge chose Humphrey (Baltimore).
“One never knows what young cornerback will come into the league with the combination of boldness and skill necessary to shine immediately,” Borges said. “It may be the most difficult thing to predict, as someone like Everson Walls proved years ago. Saying that, I'll go with the voters on Teez but you never know. It's why we watch.”
Tabor is like Walls – an elite coverage player without prototype speed. He was a two-time first-team All-SEC quarterback in college football’s toughest conference. But when he ran a 4.54 at the NFL scouting combine, his stock dropped – and it wasn’t until that 53rd overall pick that the Lions stopped his slide.
Walls also lacked top end speed for the position, running a 4.7 for NFL scouts, which is why he went undrafted out of Grambling. But he intercepted 11 passes as a rookie and went on to lead the NFL in interceptions a record three times. He had the savvy to play the position, as does Tabor.
Awuzie was the most physical cornerback in the draft, arriving from Colorado with 273 career tackles, and Jackson was the Thorpe Award winner as the top defensive back in college football last season.