Ja'Gared Davis is an outside linebacker from Southern Methodist. He's projecting well into a possible NFL role and should be taken at some point in April's draft. He is one of the unheard of names in this year's draft who could end up turning in a solid career as a pro.
Let's explore what makes Davis an NFL-caliber prospect in the 2013 draft.
+ Davis is an ideal pass-rushing linebacker for a 3-4 defense.
+ His run defense is effective both as an edge setter and a run blitzer.
+ He's a very solid tackler with good strong hand usage to complement it.
- He's not effective in coverage and should not add this to his game.
- He doesn't have great size or speed, but has potential to get bigger.
He will likely be a Day 3 player at best. Someone will fall in love with his abilities and he should get a shot in an NFL camp in the fall.
Tools ( - )
Davis is undersized (6'0", 238 pounds) and doesn't have the kind of speed needed to be a 4-3 linebacker. He's a legitimate tweener who would ideally be selected by a team who can use him in the 3-4 because he's not someone who should be on the line with his hand down. He isn't big enough to be a full-time defensive end in the 4-3.
Intangibles, Character and Injuries
It's rare when nothing shows up in this category for a player. Davis isn't known as a problem off the field as he has never been arrested or suspended. But he also isn't known as a leader in the locker room. He's a guy who comes in, does his job and leaves, and a team will see that as an asset.
Luckily, he also doesn't have any time missed because of injuries on his record. There is nothing here that Davis has done that would take him off teams' boards, but also nothing that would raise him up boards like being a captain or leader.
In college, he was best used as a 3-4 outside linebacker and was blitzed on almost every play. His best role was when this happened because he could just pin his ears back and trust his speed to get after the quarterback or the ball carrier. However, this won't show any sort of talent for a four-man alignment and he was rarely, if ever used in coverage.
Pass Coverage ( - )
He can read screens effectively and has even shown ability to let up on his pass rush to follow a running back out of the backfield. Outside of that, though, he rarely is used in coverage. It could be a part of his game that is developed, but he would do better in a Terrell Suggs role that limits him in coverage.
Pass Rush ( + )
From the outside. Davis can use his speed and agility to make a right tackle look weak. He creates good, quick pressure and can rip and swim effectively. He uses speed moves effectively and can run the arc and chase down almost any quarterback. He also has a good set of power moves started by good bull rush that allows him to get proper leverage under opposing tackle's pads.
Against the Run ( + )
Davis doesn't over-pursue the way most pass rushing linebackers tend to do. He is excellent in a run blitz and can snuff out the run plays. He can get washed out in the run game though and tends to get tied up with a tackle too easily. It's easy to maximize his ability against the run in both the 3-4 and 4-3. Just have him do a ton of run blitzing and have him set the edge.
Tackling ( + )
On pass rushes, Davis wraps up and hits quarterbacks at their center of gravity. When he chases them down from behind, he uses his arm to try and strip the ball out every time. He is also a very secure tackler against the run wrapping up against every running back he plays. He's not a huge hitter but he's effective with his strength as a tackler.
Use of hands ( + )
Ja'Gared Davis has effective rips and strong hands. He uses his leg drive and quickness to convert the speed from that into power for his punch. He can throw around a man 50 to 60 pounds bigger than him despite not having perfect leverage or technique. He can get better, but he's already shown that he's a solid player here.
Future Role and Scheme Versatility
In the NFL, Ja'Gared Davis would be best used as a 3-4 outside linebacker in a Terrell Suggs or James Harrison style role. He has potential to play in the 4-3 as a hands-down weak-side end, but it would only be good for him to do it sporadically. Ideally, he is a special teams player and a third-down pass rush specialist when he gets drafted.