GAINESVILLE — Cornerback Jalen Tabor's mouth never fled from a challenge in three seasons with the Gators, so it's no surprise that he kept talking the talk Tuesday, even after running a startlingly slow 40-yard dash that could knock him out of the first round in next month's NFL draft.
"It's not going to be my loss if you pass on me," Tabor said after Florida's pro day. "I'm going to be in this league for a long time. Somebody could lose their job if they pass on me, so I ain't mad at it."
Teams will pass on him after his performance Tuesday, when he ran the 40 in the 4.7-second range in front of a crowd that included Patriots coach Bill Belichick. That's slower than his time at last month's NFL scouting combine (4.62 seconds), which was already tied for the worst among cornerbacks. It's also comparable to what Florida State defensive end DeMarcus Walker ran Tuesday at his pro day — even though Walker is 80 pounds heavier.
Yet it might not matter.
"Are we looking for an Olympic runner or a football player?" asked Quincy Wilson, UF's other top cornerback prospect. "I feel like if you turn on Jalen's film, it says enough."
The 6-foot, 199-pound Tabor ranked 14th nationally with eight interceptions over the past two seasons, and his 33 pass breakups are the sixth-most ever at a program with a recent history of success in the secondary. Only two Division I-A players returned more picks for touchdowns over the past two seasons than Tabor (three).
"I don't get it," said Tabor, a two-time all-SEC honoree. "They say I'm slow, but I'm not getting beat that way, and I'm beating people back this way."
A slow 40 time is only one of the potential pitfalls for Tabor.
He was suspended for the 2015 Tennessee game (reportedly for refusing to take a drug test) and missed last season's opener after scuffling with a teammate during practice.
"Here's the good thing — he's learned from it," UF coach Jim McElwain said. "He's never been a problem in any stretch of the imagination."
Except, apparently, when it comes to running in a straight line for 40 yards.
Although Tabor said he performed well in other drills Tuesday (including the short shuttle and position work), NFL draft gurus were buzzing over his slow sprint, despite the weeks he had to prepare. Team executives will have to decide whether a long cornerback once considered a first-round lock is worth a Day 2 pick.
As for Tabor, he seemed genuinely unbothered Tuesday. The only downside Tabor was willing to accept is that he'll probably lose a high school bet he made with LSU safety Jamal Adams over which one would be drafted first.
"He'll probably win the bet," Tabor said. "We need to make another bet: Who will get into the Hall of Fame first …"
GATOR BITS: Linebacker Jarrad Davis couldn't participate in the combine as he recovered from an ankle injury but made the most of Tuesday's opportunity. His 38 ½ inch vertical leap and 10-foot, 9-inch broad jump were an inch better than any linebacker at the combine, and his 4.56-second 40-yard dash would have been second best. Davis is a potential first-round pick. … Safety Marcus Maye cemented his status as an early-round pick. … Defensive lineman Joey Ivie (Pasco High) could be picked between rounds 4-7.
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