Most rookies entering the NFL don't need a whole lot of extra motivation to play well early on and make an impact. This is a tough league for rookies, and it's sink or swim for them.
But for Detroit Lions rookie cornerback Teez Tabor, the constant reminders of his slow timed speed in the pre-draft process have become extra incentive to prove his critics wrong.
"We'll revisit this topic about a couple years down the line," Tabor told reporters in Allen Park Friday, when asked about all the hoopla leading up to the draft about his timed speed.
Tabor was then asked what people will be saying about it in a couple years, and he said he hopes that it will be in his favor.
Tabor ran the 40-yard dash in the 4.6's at the Combine, and has been dealing with critics questioning his long speed ever since.
"It adds fuel to the fire," Tabor said. "It's like when you tell someone they can't do something then you're basically making them try even harder to do what you're telling them they can't do."
Lions general manager Bob Quinn went back and watched more tape of Tabor after the Combine and came away comfortable with Tabor as both a prospect and player. He used a second-round draft pick to acquire Tabor's services for the next four-plus years.
"My strength is football," Tabor said. "I play football. I don't run track. I'm trying out for the NFL. Not the Olympics. So, I'm in a pretty good spot."
Tabor took part in last week's rookie minicamp, but was limited by a hamstring injury he's been dealing with since the pre-draft process. He's been rehabbing with Lions trainers since arriving in Allen Park, and said he hopes to be 100 percent by the start of training camp.
Tabor was a first-team All-SEC pick as a sophomore after intercepting four passes (breaking up 14 others) and scoring twice. He repeated those SEC honors as a junior this past season after intercepting four passes and breaking up six more. He allowed just a 43.3 rating on passes in his coverage area in 2016.
The Lions haven't gotten into specifics with Tabor just yet when it comes to where they see him playing as a rookie – inside or outside. Tabor says he's just focused now on learning the scheme and getting down the language to Teryl Austin's defense by attaching himself to veteran players like Darius Slay and others who can help him learn the ropes.
Tabor may have some question marks surrounding him, but instead of hiding from the criticism, he's using it as motivation to make an impact early on and prove his doubters wrong.