When a team drafts a player in the middle rounds of the draft, especially in the third or fourth rounds, they look for a franchise guy that they can mold into a quality player within the next few years. For the New York Jets in 2012, that guy is Demario Davis.
The outside linebacker out of Arkansas State was selected in the third round as the 77th overall pick in this year's NFL draft, and the Jets have high expectations for the young linebacker.
As to why the Jets are looking at this young man to produce at such a high level this season, take a look at his stats after four years with the Red Wolves: 229 tackles, 22.5 tackles for loss, seven sacks, four interceptions, two fumble recoveries and five forced fumbles.
He ran a 4.61 40-yard dash at the combine and led all outside linebackers in the vertical jump and broad jump.
It was not until the Jets began minicamps and OTAs that it was evident what kind of player they drafted. After the second day of minicamp, Rich Cimini wrote this on his ESPN New York Jets blog:
"Rookie LB Demario Davis showed his versatility. One minute he's coming free on a blitz and 'sacking' Tebow, the next minute he's dropping into coverage with the starting sub package."
Exactly what Cimini wrote is what makes Davis such a great pickup through the draft. In the above quote, Cimini mentioned how Davis can drop into coverage when he is in the sub package. One of the beauties of his skill is that his coverage ability allows him to play against tight ends and carry them into the secondary to the safeties.
Davis' abilities will help to ease some of the Jets' pains when it comes to covering the tight ends around the league. Last year, the Jets went against guys like Rob Gronkowski, Brent Celek and Antonio Gates. For the most part, the Jets defense was torn apart by these tight ends.
His ability to show bursts of speed to get through opposing offensive lines and getting to the quarterbacks will help. The Jets pass rush was lacking the results it had in Rex Ryan's first two years as head coach.
Even though they added Aaron Maybin—who came up with a few sacks and was a nice underdog story of the 2011 Jets season—the Jets still need a better pass rush. Demario Davis and the new and formidable front four the Jets are creating will hopefully bring back the pass rush the Jets have been known for.
Not only does Demario Davis posses the skills necessary to be a productive player in the NFL, it seems as if he has the right mindset.
Back in May, Rex Ryan described Davis as a younger Ray Lewis. Now, he didn't compare the upstart to the legend because Davis is going to be an absolute monster like Lewis has been on the field.
Here is what Ryan had to say about Davis in comparison to Lewis:
"I'm not saying Demario is that guy -- there's only one Ray Lewis, but it’s interesting...his face, mannerisms, passion -- I see some things, and it’s interesting." (Source ESPN)
If you couldn't tell already, Demario Davis seems like the complete package. On paper, he is an ideal football player—a leader, physically talented, is passionate about the game.
All that is left is for him to perform come September. I am not sure about you, but I have a feeling Davis is going to make a splash in 2012.