Jahlani Tavai is latest on long list of failed second-round picks by Detroit Lions

Lions selected Tavai with No. 43 overall pick in 2019 draft

Detroit Lions linebacker Jahlani Tavai plays during the first half of a preseason NFL football game, Friday, Aug. 13, 2021, in Detroit. (Paul Sancya, The Associated Press 2021)

DETROIT – Another second-round pick by the Detroit Lions has officially gone into the record books as a bust.

Jahlani Tavai, the team’s second selection in 2019, was cut from the roster Tuesday as general manager Brad Holmes tries to get down to 53 players by next week.

Live updatesLions roster cuts ahead of Aug. 31 deadline

Many Lions fans remember the Tavai selection because, frankly, it was a disaster from the very start. Detroit took him with the No. 43 overall selection even though he was expected to go much later in the draft.

Bob Quinn, in vintage Lions fashion, played the “smartest guy in the room” card, saying he didn’t consider the pick a reach. Over the next two seasons, Tavai graded out as one of the worst linebackers in the NFL.

Missing on second-rounders is nothing new for the Lions.

Quinn reached for Teez Tabor -- a slow cornerback, no less -- at No. 53 overall in 2017. His other second-round picks, A’Shawn Robinson and Kerryon Johnson, had roles on the team but certainly underwhelmed. (It’s too early to judge D’Andre Swift.)

Before Quinn, the Lions took Ameer Abdullah, a running back with injury and fumble concerns. The year prior, they drafted Kyle Van Noy only to cut him two years later and watch him anchor a New England Patriots Super Bowl defense.

Darius Slay was an excellent choice in 2013, but the two prior years yielded Ryan Broyles, Titus Young and Mikel Leshoure. Yikes.

In the last 10 drafts (not counting 2021), the Lions have made 11 selections in the second round. Seven of those turned out to be busts (for the Lions, at least), and only one of the other four (Slay) returned appropriate value.

Holmes’ debut second-round pick was Levi Onwuzurike, a defensive lineman out of Washington. He’s hoping to reverse the disturbing trend of this franchise wasting one of its most valuable resources.


About the Author:

Derick is the Lead Digital Editor for ClickOnDetroit and has been with Local 4 News since April 2013. Derick specializes in breaking news, crime and local sports.