2017 NFL Draft Scouting Report: Jarrad Davis
By Charlie Campbell
Summary: Prior to the 2015 season, Davis was an unknown and teammate Antonio Morrison was the linebacker who was considered a prospect for the NFL. That changed during Davis that season. In 2015, Florida featured one of the best defenses in the nation that led the program to a SEC East Championship and a surprising spot in the SEC Championship. While there were future first-round picks in the secondary with Keanu Neal and Vernon Hargreaves III, Davis was the player who may have been the Gators' biggest breakout star of the 2015 season and was a much better linebacker than Morrison. NFL sources raved about David late in the 2015 season as he was all over the field for the Gators. When other players like Hargreaves seemed to take their foot off the pedal late in the season, Davis was playing like a man on fire. He totaled 94 tackles with 11 tackles for a loss, four passes broken up, an interception and 3.5 sacks in 2015. Late in the year, the junior really had a huge presence for Florida.
As a senior, Davis was often hurt and tried to play through a leg injury. He was never the same player as he was in 2015. Davis played nine games while hobbling around in some contests and not finishing some of them. He totaled 60 tackles, two sacks and four passes broken up in 2016. The rehab from injuries kept Davis from participating in the Senior Bowl and combine. However, he was tremendous at his pro day with a 40 of 4.5 seconds. His 40 time, broad jump and vertical jump would have been the best numbers of any linebacker at the combine.
Davis is a rare linebacker with a great skill set. He is very fast with sideline-to-sideline speed that allows him to cover a ton of ground. Davis is explosive as a runner and as a hitter with some real shock that surprises offensive linemen and ball-carriers. He also is a team leader who loves football. The senior is the epitome of the field general to call the plays, make the checks, and be a motivator in the huddle. Players who have played against Davis, have told WalterFootball.com that he is the real deal and is a terrific player.
Davis is all over the field as a run defender for the ground game. Routinely, one would see plays where Davis was phenomenally quick at reading the play and darting into the backfield to blow the play up. Not only does he explode into the backfield, he flies to the sideline, and throws his body around at the line of scrimmage.
For the most part, Davis is a good tackler and can hit with authority. He can be a little overaggressive and over-pursue, but generally he is sound about getting the ball-carrier on the ground. Davis is very physical at hitting running backs, quarterbacks, receivers, and offensive linemen. There are plays where he buckles offensive linemen with his dynamic speed and power crashing into them. Davis has a great motor as well.
Davis also demonstrated skills for the passing game and is a dangerous blitzer. In the short to intermediate zone, he does well with picking up receivers and also has shown some ball skills. As a professional, Davis could be an asset as a linebacker weapon to neutralize receiving-threat tight ends and running backs in man-to-man coverage. Davis should be a true three-down defender in the NFL.
Sources across the league love Davis. One scout said, "Jarrad is a more explosive player, and he was dynamic as a junior. Had an injuries as a senior, but he's actually more stable an all-around prospect than Reuben Foster and less maintenance than Reuben. Plus, you're not losing any speed or explosive play-making ability. He had some dominant games in 2015 where he took over. Plus, he can quarterback the defense. Jarrad can buckle an OL. He has speed and range to carry routes and make the play. Twitchy, fast, stout frame. Jarrad is faster, more explosive athletically, and finishes with more violence than Zach Cunningham. Jarrad's injury was ongoing since preseason, so I gave him credit for playing through it. It validated how tough everyone said he is." In the NFL, Davis has three down starting potential as soon as his rookie season. Being a run-and-chase Will (weakside) linebacker in a 3-4 defense would be a great fit for Davis. In a 4-3 defense, he could be a Will (weakside) linebacker or a Mike (middle) linebacker. In the 2017 NFL Draft, Davis has a shot to be a first-round pick in the back half. Some sources have Davis graded in the second round and believe that he will go there.
Player Comparison: Jonathan Vilma. Sources have compared Davis to Vilma, which makes a lot of sense. Vilma (6-1, 230) was a fast and instinctive linebacker who could do everything in the NFL. He was the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year and three-time Pro Bowler while being a leader on the Saints' 2009 Super Bowl Championship team. Davis' game is very similar to Vilma's, and Davis could be an excellent pro linebacker like Vilma was.
NFL Matches: Miami, Detroit, New York Giants, Houston, Indianapolis, Buffalo, Los Angeles Chargers, Oakland, Denver, Kansas City, Cincinnati, San Francisco and Arizona
There are a lot of teams who could consider drafting Davis in the late first round and into Round 2. Miami had a big need at linebacker entering the offseason and even after free agency, the team could consider Davis in the first or second round. The Lions could use more linebacker talent, too. Davis would be a great fit for Detroit in Round 1 or 2.
The Raiders have a huge need at middle linebacker as the interior of their defense was shredded last year. Davis would be an instant upgrade. Staying in the AFC West, the Chargers are switching to a 4-3 defense and let Manti Te'o leave in free agency. If Davis makes it to Round 2, he could form a nice tandem with Denzel Perryman. Denver could use a linebacker upgrade after losing Danny Trevathan a year ago. Kansas City also could consider Davis as an understudy to Derrick Johnson.
The Texans need a linebacker upgrade next to Benardrick McKinney as Brian Cushing has become a liability on the field. Davis would be a perfect fit for what the Texans need and an immediate upgrade over Cushing. Houston has bigger needs in round one, but if good talent isn't available at one of those positions, the organization could opt for Davis. The rival Colts need a linebacker upgrade, too, and Davis would be a great pick for them in the second round.
The Bills could use a Will (weakside) linebacker to add to their change to a 4-3. Davis could form an exciting tandem with Reggie Ragland.
The Bengals could use more linebacker talent next to Vontaze Burfict, and Davis could be a fit for them in Round 2.
The 49ers could use an inside linebacker upgrade, and Davis could be in play for them at the top of Day 2. Staying in the NFC West, Arizona needs an inside linebacker upgrade after moving on from Kevin Minter.
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