Summary: Entering the 2014 season, there was a lot of excitement and buzz about Davis in the scouting community. Many felt that Davis was poised to have a massive junior season and could propel himself into first-round consideration. That outcome would have indicated Davis to be a special player considering the NFL's aversion to taking running backs in the top-32 picks. However, Davis' junior year ended up being underwhelming and he now is being lost in the shuffle in an extremely strong group of running backs. A lot of other running back prospects are rated higher than Davis, and that group includes Todd Gurley, Melvin Gordon, Jay Ajayi, Ameer Abdullah, Tevin Coleman, Duke Johnson and David Johnson.
Davis had big shoes to fill in 2013 as Marcus Lattimore was a legend at South Carolina, yet Davis managed to address the void. Even with teams selling out to stop him, he ran over defenders on a weekly basis. Davis averaged 5.8 yards per carry with 1,183 yards and 11 touchdowns. He also had 34 receptions for 352 yards. Davis showed some natural receiving ability and was phenomenal on screen passes.
With Connor Shaw and others moving on to the NFL, Davis was expected to be the engine of the Gamecocks' offense, but the junior never got into a groove in 2014. He was banged up all year as he basically missed the season opener and was limited in a number of games. Davis averaged 4.9 yards per carry on the year with 982 yards and nine touchdowns. He also had 32 receptions for 368 yards and two scores. Davis went over 100 yards in only four games, and those performances were all against weaker opponents (East Carolina, Missouri, Kentucky, Furman). At the Combine, Davis had a solid performance, he but didn't do enough to stand out in the crowded running back class.
Davis has a good, but not great, skill set. He isn't a burner back who is a threat to score or rip off long runs on any carry. Davis also isn't overly big and overpowering as runner. He does everything well, but doesn't have special traits to make him a potential dominant running back.
Davis is a physical, downhill runner who has the quickness to hit the hole. He can run through tackles and pick up yards after contact. Davis is also able to function in short-yardage situations as he is compactly built and finishes his runs well.
Sources with teams believe that Davis is a No. 2 back for the NFL. That being said, he has some versatility for the NFL. Davis could be a receiving back who comes into the game during passing situations and functions as a receiver out of the backfield. He also could be a back who pounds the ball in between the tackles on first and second down.
Davis looks like a third- or fourth-round pick in the 2015 NFL Draft.
Player Comparison: Ray Rice. Davis is similar to the Rice in his playing style. They are the same size Rice (5-9, 218) and both are physical runners. Davis probably doesn't have as much quickness as Rice did when he was running well for Baltimore. In the NFL, Davis could be a poor man's version of Rice.
NFL Matches: Oakland, Atlanta, San Diego, Miami, Indianapolis, Houston, Green Bay, Minnesota, Detroit, Dallas
There are a number of teams that could consider a running back in the mid-rounds of the 2015 NFL Draft. Davis has three potential landing spots in the NFC North. The Packers drafted Johnathan Franklin to pair with Eddie Lacy, but Franklin's career ended early because of injury.
Minnesota will have to prepare for life without Adrian Peterson and could use a lead back to work with Teddy Bridgewater. The Lions need a back to replace Reggie Bush, and Davis could be a good outlet receiver for Matthew Stafford.
In the AFC West, Davis could be the feature back for the Chargers. They need a more reliable and steady presence in the backfield. Oakland also will look to replace Darren McFadden and Maurice Jones-Drew.
Atlanta could consider a running back to pair with Devonta Freeman.
The Colts signed Frank Gore, but he's only a short-term solution. Indianapolis could use a feature back for Andrew Luck in the long term. Houston also needs a back to team with Arian Foster and Alfred Blue. The Texans could use a runner who is capable of being a lead back given Foster's durability issues.
The Dolphins need a running back to pair with Lamar Miller. They don't have much behind him, plus Davis would be a good fit in Joe Philbin's offense.
The Cowboys could be in the market for a running back now that DeMarco Murray has left for Philadelphia.