Who is Jahlani Tavai? A look at the Detroit Lions' 2nd-round NFL draft pick

Kirkland Crawford
Detroit Free Press
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The Detroit Lions took many by surprise by drafting Hawaii linebacker Jahlani Tavai with their second round pick in the 2019 NFL draft. 

Now, unless you just love football at 2 a.m. on Saturdays, we're guessing you haven't seen much of this guy on the field. 

So Cal guy

Tavai was born in Inglewood, Calif., (home of the longtime home of the Los Angeles Lakers' Great Western Forum) and played high school ball at Manhattan Beach (Calif.) Mira Costa. He helped his team go undefeated and win a state title in his senior season in 2014. He also played volleyball and track and field in high school.

More:Lions get a D-minus for drafting Jahlani Tavai in 2nd round

Hawaii linebacker Jahlani Tavai.

NFL pedigree

The 6-foot-2⅜, 250-pound linebacker ran the 40-yard dash in 4.86 seconds at the NFL combine. He has five brothers and a sister, including three brothers who played Division I college football. His younger brother, Justus, is on Hawaii. One of his older brothers, J.R., played at USC and for the Tennessee Titans and is currently signed with the Ottawa Redbacks of the CFL. 

The NFL graded Tavai out to be a backup and special teams player in the league. 

More:Lions fans have no clue who Jahlani Tavai is

No day at the beach

Tavai played in just eight games last season battling a shoulder sprain and didn't participate in the Senior Bowl. But in his career, he had 391 tackles, including 220 solos mostly as a middle linebacker. He was an All-Mountain West second team selection in 2017.

Run-in with the law

Tavai and a teammate, Kaiwi Chung, were arrested for third-degree assault back in June 2018 after an altercation outside of a Honolulu nightclub on early Saturday morning. The two reportedly responded after another man who pushed a woman to the ground, police sources said. The Athletic reports he was helping defend against a man who punched not only his teammate but his teammate's fiancée.

Contact Kirkland Crawford: Follow him on Twitter @HiKirkHere.

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