Detroit Lions not ready to give up on Teez Tabor. Here's why

Dave Birkett
Detroit Free Press

Bob Quinn spent more time watching film on Teez Tabor than any prospect in his history as a talent evaluator, and the Detroit Lions general manager isn’t ready to give up on Tabor as viable NFL cornerback yet.

“I think Teez is still developing,” Quinn said at his end-of-season news conference last week. “Has Teez played as good as I would’ve hoped? No. I’ll be honest with you, no.”

It’s not just that Tabor hasn’t played as well as the Lions hoped when they made him a second-round pick out of Florida in 2017, it’s that he hasn’t been good enough to get on the field much at all.

Panthers receiver Curtis Samuel scores a touchdown past Lions cornerback Teez Tabor during the fourth quarter Nov. 18, 2018 at Ford Field in Detroit.

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Tabor played in 12 games and made four starts for the Lions this season, but he was a healthy scratch for four of the season’s final six games and didn’t play a single defensive snap in one of the other contests.

Tabor did finish his disappointing year on an up note, playing as the Lions’ No. 3 cornerback in a Week 17 shutout of the Green Bay Packers (when Nevin Lawson and Jamal Agnew were out with injuries). But he’ll need to make significant improvements in coverage — or perhaps change positions, something the Lions have said is not the cards right now — or risk being cut in 2019.

The Lions return their top three cornerbacks for next season in Lawson, Agnew and Pro Bowler Darius Slay, plus have Michael Ford, who played ahead of Tabor late in the season as an undrafted rookie, in a backup role. They’ll also be in the market to add to the position through free agency or the draft.

Minnesota Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph catches a pass over Detroit Lions cornerback Teez Tabor during the fourth quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium, Nov. 4, 2018 in Minneapolis.

Lions coach Matt Patricia praised Tabor’s work ethic late in the season, saying “he just keeps working hard” and insisting “he’s getting better.”

And Quinn said the 23-year-old, who has yet to be credited with a pass breakup in his career, still has time to prove himself worthy of that second-round pick.

“I’ve never stood up here and said I’m going to hit 1.000 percent on my batting average in free agency and the draft,” Quinn said. “If I did, we’d win every game and we’d be 16-0 and going to the Super Bowl. I know one thing, that I’m very confident with the decisions that we make about player acquisition. Teez hasn’t probably played as well as I would’ve hoped, but I think there’s still upside there. I think he knows what he needs to work on. He had a great attitude all season.”


The Lions have an interview scheduled with a third offensive coordinator candidate, former Tampa Bay Buccaneers OC Todd Monken, according to ESPN.

Monken spent the last three seasons with the Bucs after three years as Southern Miss head coach. He began his coaching career as an assistant at Grand Valley State in 1989 and spent seven seasons at Eastern Michigan.

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