Have you noticed a theme yet with these pieces? Now in our third installment (of nine), Florida’s Jarrad Davis is the third defensive player evaluated — along with Vanderbilt linebacker Zach Cunningham and Michigan State defensive tackle Malik McDowell. While all on defense, each of these three players brings drastically different things to the table — so what makes Davis a popular choice among mock drafts?
At 6’1” and 238 pounds, Davis is an absolute tank at the middle linebacker position. As a junior in Gainesville, Davis played in all 14 games and registered 98 tackles — including 11 for loss, 3.5 sacks and 7 quarterback hurries. Despite that performance, he decided to return for his senior season and things didn’t go quite so well.
Hampered by an ankle injury even when he was playing, Davis finished with just 60 tackles and 2 sacks in nine games. This same ankle injury also forced him to skip drills at the combine, but now fully healthy, Davis was impressive at his pro day — running a 4.56 40 with a 38.5” vertical.
Desperately in need of some help at linebacker, could Davis be a fit for the Raiders?
Jeff Spiegel (@JeffSpiegel)
Let those numbers sink in a bit. 6’1, 240 and running a 4.56. Other than Jabrill Peppers (who isn’t even projected to play linebacker in the pros), it would have been the fastest 40-time by a linebacker. Vertical? Best among the group as well.
For me, this one is an easy one — he was productive in college when healthy (and if fully healthy as a senior, he probably wouldn’t be around at No. 24) and he’s a freak athletically. Add in the fact that scouts say the guy is amazing off-the-field in his leadership, work ethic and character and Davis seems like an ideal fit in Oakland. With Zach Brown officially off the board and Perry Riley Jr. the only ‘viable’ option remaining at linebacker in free agency, the Raiders MUST fill this hole in the middle of their defense early in the draft.
Daniel LeBaron (@DTLeBaron)
Florida linebacker Jarrad Davis is the quintessential football player, possessing the hungry attitude and relentless physicality that every coach wants on their roster. An injured ankle held him to nine games as a senior, but at Florida's pro day last week he turned in an extremely impressive 4.56 40 and 38.5" vertical. His stats as a Gator certainly don't jump off the page; he accumulated 201 tackles and a mere 5.5 sacks during four years in Gainesville.
Davis hasn't shown the wow factor that would make him a top-15 pick and his stats indicate that he likely won't excel at getting to the quarterback at the next level.
In terms of the his fit with the Raiders, that might not be the end of the world. The team needs an ILB that can stuff the run and be a consistent tackler within 10 yards. That is pretty much Davis' game to a tee. I'd rather draft someone with the athleticism and upside of Zach Cunningham, but if he is off the board, I wouldn't be opposed to the Raiders snagging a really solid football player in Davis.
For the last couple of years, the Florida Gators have had one of the most dominating defenses in college football. And it's a good thing too, because their offense has been trash (sorry, Luke). Part of the reason was that defensive wizard Will Muschamp used to be the coach. Part of the reason is bookend corners Teez Tabor and Quincy Wilson. Part of it is a great line led by DT Caleb Brantley. But the biggest reason is the leadership and strength at middle linebacker provided by Jarrad Davis.
There was a noticeable drop-off in the quality of Florida's defense when Davis was off the field, which he frequently was in 2016 as he dealt with nagging injuries. With Davis, the Gators were lights-out. Without him, merely good. Davis was the straw that stirred the drink. He is a big, fast linebacker with excellent coverage skills in man and zone alike. He has superlative sideline-to-sideline speed and can rush the passer as well. He is highly intelligent and diagnoses plays quickly.
His problem is that, much like Zach Cunningham, Davis likes to blow people up and sometimes doesn't wrap up. This was more of a problem for Cunningham, whose teammates were not on the level of Davis'. If Davis missed a tackle, there were five guys there to clean it up. If Zach did, the ball-carrier might be off to the races.
I am an unabashed Gators fan, but I say with some objectivity that Jarrad Davis is precisely the Will/Mike linebacker the Raiders need. He can do it all and he is a beast. Zach Cunningham might be a better player, but is far riskier than Davis with more bust potential. I can assure you Jarrad Davis will not bust. His floor is Courtney Upshaw and his ceiling is Bobby Wagner.
Jarrad Davis is intriguing. He is a leader on the field, a ferocious tackler, and shows often surprising coverage abilities. It’s surprising because he goes from being a wrecking ball against the run to shadowing a receiver and getting his head turned and hands up in coverage.
There are areas of concern, however. He gets banged up a lot, causing him to miss games and not finish other games fairly often. Much of this is due to the reckless abandon with which he plays the game. That too can be a liability as he will overrun plays at times and be flagged for roughing other times. He too often seems like he’s trying to simply play harder, rather than smarter. That works out often at the college level, but doesn’t always translate well to the NFL.
I guess where I land with Davis is more about where I think he should land in the draft. Would he be a good pick for the Raiders? Probably. And if they made him their top pick, I wouldn’t say it was a bad one because he has a lot of potential. But the question marks tell me 24 is too high for him. He looks like a second round pick to me.