Third Round, 96th Pick
In 2010, Knile Davis looked like he belonged with stud SEC running backs like future No. 3 overall pick Trent Richardson. A serious ankle injury and disappointing junior season later, Davis lit up the combine with a rare combination of size, speed and strength, but teams still have to be wondering whether or not he is the classic workout warrior. What else makes Davis one of the most puzzling players in this class?
Davis is a freak athletic specimen, with long speed in a thick, sturdy body. He has a good initial burst and the light feet to make cuts in the hole. Davis also spots cutback lanes and has the agility to reroute and burst out of his cuts without losing much momentum. He showed great stamina in 2010 to wear down a defense over the course of a game.
Ankle injuries and ball security are both big issues for Davis. He runs like a small back and tries to break outside or elude tacklers instead of run them over. Davis goes down easily on first contact at an alarming rate for a big back.
Even though his size/speed/strength is terrific, Davis is actually a somewhat stiff and sometimes clumsy athlete. He runs with a high pad level that fails to generate power and stops his feet too often while deliberating his next move.
5'10", 227-pound running backs aren't supposed to run the 40 in 4.37 seconds. Davis also benched 225 pounds 31 times—something you wouldn't guess when you watch him play. You would expect small 8.625" hands on a back that fumbles as often as Davis down.
His lateral agility, quickness and explosion are relatively average among all backs, but they're good enough considering the speed and size Davis plays at.
Davis has a long history of ankle injuries that surely triggered intense examination at the combine. He was unable to secure a primary back role when he returned to the film in 2012, although Davis was voted a team captain in 2011 and 2012. He's generally known as a hard worker and good citizen.
Arkansas employed a lot of shotgun, although Davis had his fair share of downhill inside runs in the team's offense.
Davis seems to prefer to break runs outside, although this trend has decreased a little as his career has gone on. He can see and hit cutback lanes behind the line of scrimmage when he takes a carry going downhill.
Davis has decent hands out of the backfield, and getting him in space brings his speed into play more than his carries do. But he is only used as an outlet or screen receiver. He is a willing and effective blocker, and this is one of the areas where his weight-room strength does show up on film. Davis is a terrible cut blocker, though, and he does need more consistency as a blocker in general.
Between The Tackles
You wouldn't necessarily peg Davis as a big back based on his film between the tackles. He is generally too reliant on his speed to get to the edge or otherwise looking for the big-play instead of taking what is there. When he does decisively get north-south, he can make subtle stutter-step moves to hit the hole optimally and look like the back that he could be if he was more disciplined.
Davis can actually elude tacklers in the open field with his speed and burst (and an occasional spin move), but that's about it. It's not for lack of trying, as he always seems to prefer making a move to confronting a tackler in the open field. He's hesitant in the open field and allows himself to get swarmed by defenders. Davis should give up the idea that he is a back that can make tacklers miss in space.
Davis breaks amazingly few tackles and gets very few yards after contact for a 227-pound back with great weight-room strength. He runs too upright and doesn't run behind his pads. He retreats and does not initiate collisions and therefore usually loses them.
Davis goes down easily when tacklers go for his lower legs, and he doesn't churn his legs consistently on contact. His size and stamina do wear down a defense when he gets a lion's share of the carries, but he hasn't done that since 2010.
Scheme Versatility/Future Role
Davis doesn't seem decisive enough to work in a zone-blocking scheme, but he also lacks the north-south mentality to work in a power running game. His physical gifts could make him a good big-play factor in a spread-offense running back by committee, but he might not be durable enough to hold up as a lead back over time.