The NFL is always changing, and more and more, defenders are having to become more versatile. The linebacker position is not immune, from handling the A gap in the run game to taking the deep middle in Cover 2, linebackers need to have a vast skill set.
Speedy, rangy, quick, smart, solid in coverage, and ability to take on blocks. I’m describing a lot of the traits that make up the ideal linebacker in the NFL. I’m also describing a lot of the traits that make up Jarrad Davis. The 6’2, 230 lb Senior out of Florida is ready to showcase a skill set tailor-made for the modern NFL. He was a terrific player during his time as a Gator and may be even better at the next level. Just how good is Davis? And where can we expect to see Davis get drafted come April 27th? And who does he compare to in the NFL? Let’s answer all of these questions as we break down the strengths that make Davis so good, and where he can still improve further.
Scouting Jarrad Davis is a whole lot of fun in large part because the kid is an elite level athlete. Watching him fly around the field chasing ball carriers, or in coverage against running backs and tight ends, his athleticism pops off of the screen on almost every play. His athleticism will be his calling card in the NFL, and it is the main reason he is such a special prospect. Davis is similar to the Carolina Panthers Shaq Thompson in this way; he is so agile and quick that he can cover a variety of offensive threats. Davis’ technique is also a strength, he stays balanced and uses his body very well when dealing with blocks. When a player of his size can use sound technique, they become a nightmare for opposing offenses. And this is how Davis resembles Dallas Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee; both are so instinctive and able in handling blocks as they affect the opposing team’s run game. Overall, the former Gator is very sound in coverage, solid in the run game, and displays a high football IQ. He should be a solid contributor from the start.
As with a lot of prospects, Davis lacks strength. Occasionally he is too easy to push around and that leads to an ineffectiveness in the inside running game. If Davis wants to become a more well-rounded player as he develops further, his strength should be at the top of his to-do list when preparing for the NFL. The other hole you can poke in Davis’ game is one you can poke in a lot of linebackers. A lack of pass rush skills. Many young linebackers (and veterans for that matter) are generally ineffective when blitzing because they cannot free themselves up from blockers. Even adding a simple rip or swim move can go a long way. Bottom line it would be nice to see Davis improve there. Overall Davis’ weaknesses should not be overly hindering to his career, they are just spots where he has room to grow.
So, to answer the questions we previewed in the intro, Davis is damn good, and he should be a mid to late first round pick. He’s just so athletic. Pair that with his size, smarts, and technique, and you have yourself a franchise linebacker. Davis should become a very versatile player with a well-rounded game, and he will be valuable for whoever takes him. I look forward to watching him fly around on Sunday’s from now on.
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