Florida's Tabor to NFL decision-makers: Just press play
By MARK LONG
GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) Florida cornerback Jalen "Teez" Tabor wants NFL coaches, general managers and scouts to forget everything he's done the last two months.
The 40-yard dash, the vertical leap, the broad jump, the shuttle run, the cone drill, the bench press, flush them all.
Tabor believes there's only one way to truly evaluate his talent.
"Just press play," Tabor said after Florida's annual pro day Tuesday. "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."
Tabor was widely considered a first-round draft pick heading into the NFL combine earlier this month, but less-than-impressive workout numbers have his stock plummeting. He had hoped to rebound on campus Tuesday, but he was actually slower in the 40-yard dash. Tabor, who clocked a 4.62 in Indianapolis, ran in the 4.7s inside Florida's practice facility.
The ultra-confident defensive back seemed unfazed by his latest performance, even though it could cost him millions.
"I'm not a track guy," Tabor said. "If we were 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."
A two-time all-Southeastern Conference selection in three seasons with the Gators, Tabor finished his college career with 104 tackles, 28 pass breakups, nine interceptions and four sacks. A junior from Washington, D.C., the 21-year-old Tabor left school early in hopes being a first-round selection.
It's still possible. After all, all he needs is one team to fall in love and take a chance.
But at this point, Tabor knows his best bet is for league executives to put more weight into what he's done in pads than shorts.
"It's not going to be my loss if you pass on me," Tabor said. "I'm going to be in this league for a long time. Somebody could lose their job if they pass on me."
New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick was the only head coach in attendance, mostly because Florida's pro day coincided with the NFL meetings in Arizona. Buffalo's Doug Whaley and Pittsburgh's Kevin Colbert were the lone general managers on hand.
Linebacker Jarrad Davis, who missed the Senior Bowl and the combine while recovering from a badly sprained left ankle, had arguably the most impressive day. The 240-pounder ran the 40 in 4.56, had a 38 1/2-inch vertical and covered 10 feet, 9 inches in the broad jump.
"I think it helped me out a lot," Davis said. "I showed that I have speed, I'm able to move around."
Safety Marcus Maye, who also missed the combine while recovering from a broken left arm, quarterback Austin Appleby, cornerback Quincy Wilson, defensive end Bryan Cox Jr., and offensive tackle David Sharpe also were among the players who worked out.
Tabor may have drawn the most interest, though.
He already gave NFL teams cause for concern, especially in a deep cornerback draft, because he was suspended twice in the last two seasons. He was suspended for one game in 2015 for violating university rules and for one game in 2016 for fighting with a teammate in practice. He also was cited for marijuana possession as a freshman.
"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. ...
"If I was paying somebody a lot of money, I would want to know everything about that person and what I'm about to get into, too, so I'm not surprised at all."
He was more surprised by his workout numbers, especially the 40, and how they could affect him in the draft.
"I know I'm a first-round pick," he said. "But, you know, guys slide sometimes. ... You see a lot of these guys, these top-flight guys who go out here and run 4.3 and they'll be out of the league in four years. I'm in for the long run. This is minor. I'm trying to play ball."
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Updated March 28, 2017