The NFLPA Bowl will take place on Saturday in Carson, California. There will be an abundance of NFL player personnel people at the game looking for a prospect to flash his pro potential. Small school prospects can take the opportunity to shine and generate more interest within the scouting neighborhood.
One of the players that can really make a statement this week is University of Incarnate Word linebacker Myke Tavarres. The passing game has become the preferred way to score points in the NFL. The rules are becoming more and more geared towards allowing offenses to score more points as shown by how little contact defenders are able to have with receivers within their routes.
As a result, a premium has been placed on pass rushers. Some will look at Tavarres’ size (6-3 230 pounds) and say there is no way that he can be a force coming off of the edge in the NFL. If you take a closer look at his film ( http://www.hudl.com/athlete/535050/myke-tavarres ), you will see one of the more disruptive pass rushers in the nation.
Tavarres is a stand up pass rusher that gets off the ball like as if he was shot out of a cannon. His speed off of the edge minimizes any size issues that he may have. Offensive linemen get surprised by his speed and scramble to get into their drops. This limits the linemen from establishing a strong base and it allows Tavarres to either run them over or utilize one of the pass rushing moves that from his repertoire.
He was able to use a variety of moves to get to the quarterback. One of his best moves is a quick swim move that he pairs with an outside jab step that opens up a clear path for him to the quarterback. He also uses a spin move to get off of blocks. Tavarres’ 8.5 sacks led the team last season. He also had seven quarterback hurries.
Converting what some may perceive as a limitation and turning it into an advantage is the best way to attack any perceived disadvantage. Tavarres is fully aware that he is smaller than bigger offensive lineman that will try to block him. However, he uses his size to his advantage because he’s quicker than the players that he has to go up against.
“I know that being a bit smaller than most of the guys that I go against means I have to use whatever advantage that I can find. My speed and quickness is my advantage,” Tavarres said. “Coming off the edge, I have to get low and give them a move to set inside or outside so I can go the opposite direction.”
Plays that generate negative yards drive offensive coordinators crazy and can change the way they call plays within any given series. Tavarres plays very well in space and consistently finds his way to the football. He has the speed to track down running backs behind the line of scrimmage, even when the play is going to the other side.
He had 110 tackles last year. Tavarres posted 22.5 tackles for a loss in 2015, which means 20% of his tackles occurred in the opponent’s backfield. Those numbers will pop out to personnel people who are in search of a disruptive player that allows their defense to put offenses in third and long situations.
All-star games such as the NFLPA Bowl tend to be a showcase for athletes such as Tavarres. He competed on the football, wrestling and track teams at Lake Ridge High School in Lake Oswego, Oregon. He ran the 100m dash, 110m hurdles, 400m dash and high jumped during his high school days.
Tavarres was a two-time all-conference selection at College of the Siskiyous in California prior to spending a year at the University of Arkansas. Tavarres recorded 85 tackles, 12.5 for a loss along with 2.5 sacks, He added two interceptions, five pass breakups, two fumble recoveries and one forced fumble as well in his final season at Siskiyous.
His athleticism was on display once again in junior college as shown by his taking part in the decathlon for the Siskiyous track team. Tavarres was a hurdler in addition to playing football at Incarnate Word.
His play during practices has generated a lot of buzz within the scouting community. That is exactly why he was asked to play a variety of positions during practice. He understands that becoming a more versatile player will require some refinement to his game, which is not a huge challenge.
“I am playing strong side backer mostly, but I am switching back and forth from strong side and weak side,” Taveras said. “I’d like to work on my stance and dropping into coverage more. I’ve been an edge rusher most of my career, so it’s new to me. I’ll get used to it.”
It’s not often that a linebacker will be called upon to return kickoffs, but Tavarres did so at Incarnate Word. NFL teams will look at an athlete like Tavarres and figure out a way to get him on the field. They want impact players, which is exactly what Tavarres brings to the table.
“It’s been really good. Once I got comfortable, I feel like I have really progressed and had a lot of fun,” Tavares said. “Most of the people that I have talked to have said that I will be used like #20 from Arizona [Deone Bucannon], in a hybrid kind of role.”
It is clear that he has taken advantage of the opportunity to show what he can do on the football field.