Jarrad Davis- Florida Gators
Hometown: Kingsland, GA
Experience: Jr. - 3 year starter
40yd dash: N/A
Broad jump: N/A
20yd. Shuttle: N/A
Bench Press: N/A
As a freshman, Jarrad Davis played every game, starting one and was named Special Teams MVP. The following year he played nine games and started one before a meniscus tear cut his season short. After his recovery, Jarrad Davis exploded onto the scene in 2015 with 98 tackles, 11 for loss, and 3.5 sacks which earned him Second Team All SEC honors. Despite missing four games his senior year, he finished 2016 with 60 tackles, 6 for loss, and 2 sacks with another nod for Second Team All SEC honors.
On a Florida defense full of big time players like Quincy Wilson and Teez Tabor, who will be drafted high in this year’s draft, Jarrad Davis still managed to stand out as one the best players on the team. Davis is a leader in the front seven, and you can see him verbally communicating adjustments with his teammates all throughout any game. The team that drafts Davis won’t have to worry about him off the field, he was named to the SEC Football Community Service Team and was a finalist for the Lott Impact Trophy and the Pop Warner CFB Award which recognize players who are outstanding citizens off the field.
Davis spent most of his time on the field at inside linebacker, but was occasionally used to rush off the edge. His athleticism paired with his explosiveness makes him a perfect fit to be a Will linebacker in a 4-3 defense, but his success in Florida’s 3-4 suggests he’ll be able to translate to a 3-4 system in the pros as an inside linebacker.
Davis unfortunately had lingering ankle injury during last season, which caused him to miss games and not play to his fullest potential. The ankle injury prevented him from performing at the combine, but he is expected to be at full strength for his pro day.
Injury Report: (known injuries, games missed)
Davis missed three games in 2016 due to an ankle injury and three games in 2014 due to a meniscus tear.
Against the Run- 3.0/5
If there’s one word to describe Jarrad Davis against the run, it’s inconsistent. Davis seems to read and react instead of attack, which causes him to get bullied by offensive guards by the time he’s diagnosed the play. His tendency to take too long to read plays is a double edged sword- on one hand he rarely misreads a play, but on the other hand it causes him to be just another body on a play instead of one of the players impacting it. When Davis let’s his instincts take over he shines, and he’s quick to make a play on the ball.
One of the most important aspects to an inside linebacker’s game is his ability to stack and shed offensive linemen, and again Davis’ ability to do this is a mixed bag. When he does it right, he looks great- his hands have a nice violent “pop” to them which jar the offensive lineman off his spot. However, for every time I’ve seen Davis stack and shed I’ve seen him get pushed out of the play just as many. At this point in his career, Davis has an inability to consistently take on blockers and shed them to make a tackle.
Something Davis does really well in the run game is shoot gaps. Davis is one of the most explosive linebackers I’ve ever seen and this helps him to fly past blockers and get to the ball carrier. In addition, Davis has a fantastic understanding of angles in the run game which allows him to succeed against runs outside the tackles. It’s rare to see an outside run without having Davis be one of the players involved in the play.
A really big concern I have for Jarrad Davis is his tackling ability. At times he looks like a crash dummy just hurling his body at whoever has the ball which leads to easy highlight reel jukes from whoever’s carrying the ball. With tackling being such an important aspect of any linebacker’s game it’s important that Davis learns how to wrap up the ball carrier for him to succeed at the NFL level.
Jarrad Davis wasn’t asked to rush the passer much at Florida, but when he did he looked good doing it. As I mentioned before, Davis excels at shooting gaps, which allows him to get in the quarterback’s face when rushing from the inside. Davis possesses excellent closing speed, forcing the quarterback to get rid of the ball. Davis’ natural quickness and explosiveness give him the ability to become one of the better pass rushing inside linebackers in the league, and he’d definitely fit right in with Dom Caper’s zone blitz scheme.
In today’s pass heavy NFL with guys like Rob Gronkowski and Jordan Reed rising to dominance due to their ability to create mismatches with linebackers in coverage, nothing will help a defense more than a linebacker who can cover. When Jarrad Davis is in coverage, the possibility of a mismatch is practically eliminated due to his ability to run hip to hip with any receiver who faces him. Davis’ hips look like they belong to a cornerback with how quickly he is able to flip them and change direction. While he might only have one interception to his name, it’s worth noting Davis racked up 8 pass deflections in his final two years at Florida. Davis might be the best coverage linebacker you’ll find in this class.
Picture your classic “thumper” inside linebacker. Okay now throw that out the window because Jarrad Davis is just the opposite. Davis’ motor is constantly running, even in the 3rd and 4th quarters he’s still running around sideline to sideline trying to make a play. As I mentioned before, he’s a smooth operator in space with the ability to move quickly while backpedaling and moving laterally with an ability to flip his hips fluidly. Davis is fast, explosive, and an overall athletic freak which is highly coveted in today’s NFL.
While Davis is a fantastic athlete and has elite tools in pass coverage, he doesn’t make very many plays. Too often he’s looking from the outside in on run plays, looking on as his defensive line takes down the running back, or throwing himself onto a dog pile at the end. I rarely saw Davis do anything too spectacular against the run like penetrating the line to take down the ball carrier right as the ball is snapped, which is a big negative to his game. The things Davis does best are subtle- such as locking up a TE so the QB doesn’t throw to him which is about the highest level of impact that Davis has on the field.
A big part of Jarrad Davis' value comes from his ability to defend against the pass, something which is highly coveted from a linebacker in today's NFL. He'll be able to serve as a team's nickel linebacker day 1, but his weak play against the run could keep him off the field on early downs. Nonetheless, Davis has the tools and raw athleticism to see success at the next level in both a 3-4 or 4-3 system.
Overall Grade: 3.8/5
If Drafted by the Packers:
Jarrad Davis would be a great help to a Packers defense that struggled greatly against the pass last season. With Dom Capers running more and more nickel packages Davis would be a big upgrade over Joe Thomas and would allow Morgan Burnett to move back to safety in dime packages. Davis’ pass rushing ability would allow him to fit right in with Dom Capers’ zone blitz scheme and he’d be a valuable asset for the Packers and their inconsistent pass rush. That being said, if Davis is available in the 1st round, which he probably will be, I’d pass and wait to see if I can poach him in the 2nd. Davis’ poor play against the run will keep him off the field until he improves, and his lack of play making ability isn’t something I look for in a round one talent. Would he permantently fix the hole the Packers have had at inside linebacker for years? Only time can tell. One thing is certain though, he’d easily be the best ILB on the roster and would fit nicely next to Jake Ryan who would help mask Davis’ weakness against the run.
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