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Jarrad Davis grateful for tough love growing up

Matt Charboneau
The Detroit News

Allen Park — In an NFL Draft in which character is proving to be a high priority, the Lions don’t appear to have any problems when it comes to their first-round pick.

When the Lions selected Florida linebacker Jarrad Davis with the No. 21 overall pick of Thursday’s first round, some wondered why they didn’t go with Alabama’s Reuben Foster. While it was a close call in terms of production on the field, the character issue wasn’t even close.

Foster came with plenty of red flags, all of which led to him dropping to No. 31 overall. Davis, a captain at Florida, had none of those concerns.

At his introductory press conference on Friday, he gave credit to the way his parents — John and Amy — raised him using some old-fashioned tough love.

“At a young age it was instilled, man,” Davis said. “I was a hard-headed kid growing up. Everything wasn’t peaches and cream my whole life, but at the same time it’s nothing that a belt can’t fix and a little bit of yelling. It’s nothing that can’t get fixed by a little bit of leather, man.

“My mom, my dad, they took care of me at a young age. I learned which way was the right way to go and I knew if I went the other way the belt was coming. But if I went the right way then good things are going to come. That’s how I attack things in life each and every day. If I do the hard thing now, later on I’m going to reap the benefits. So that’s how I try to approach things in my daily life.”

It’s all led to a player who was not only productive on the field — 98 tackles as a junior and 60 tackles last season despite being hampered by an ankle injury — but was one of the Gators’ key leaders.

His leadership style took time to hone, but it’s one Davis hopes to bring to Detroit.

“When I was at Florida we got guys coming from the roughest parts of Miami and guys coming from just higher end places,” Davis said. “Guys relate differently to different styles of teaching or styles of leadership. So I had to really learn and mold my leadership to the guys that I played with each and every day, and it was something that didn’t take a lot of time. It just takes being a good teammate and being a good person, going out and having conversations with guys and really getting to see what makes them go and what shuts them down. I always know how to hit that ‘let’s go’ button for my guys, and it’s something that I really took pride in and had fun with.”

Jury out on Tabor

The Lions stuck with Florida for their second-round pick, taking cornerback Teez Tabor with the 53rd overall selection.

While Davis drew unanimous praise, Bucky Brooks of the NFL Network said opinions on Tabor varied from personnel around the league.

“Some scouts loved the length, loved the athleticism, and he can compete like a madman on the perimeter,” Brooks said. “You talk to other guys and they don’t see the same type of thing. They see a press-only corner who has limited turn and transition ability and doesn’t necessarily have a back pedal.

“When I look at Teez Tabor I see an intriguing prospect, one that needs some development, one that needs to continue to work and refine his game. He’s super confident, (has a) high IQ and will compete. But you gotta get it straightened out. Now that he’s been picked in the second round he’s gonna come with a little humble pie, he’s gonna come with a bit of a chip. He thought he was a first-round player, he thought he was the best corner in the class. How does (defensive coordinator) Teryl Austin tap into that and take him to a higher level than we’ve seen consistently at Florida?”

Golladay a project

The Lions traded down in the third round with the Patriots before taking Northern Illinois wide receiver Kenny Golladay with the 96th overall pick.

At 6-foot-4, Golladay has the potential to be a red-zone threat but has some work to do, according to the analysts.

“You look at him and he does a good job with the ball in his hands as a runner, they used him that way some,” ESPN analyst Todd McShay said. “He’s a huge target. He ran a 4.5 flat at the combine at that size and a 1.58 10-yard split. This is a guy with good top speed and he gets there quickly. He has a lot of tools to develop and you understand, as a developmental project, he has a lot to work with.”

mcharboneau@detroitnews.com

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