Vontae Davis: Qualified Athlete or Bona Fide Bust?

Wilson ManigatContributor IMay 26, 2009

“With the 25th pick of the 2009 NFL draft, the Miami Dolphins select Vontae Davis; Defensive Back, Illinois.”

A great valuable pick for the Dolphins who had been searching for young, raw talent to assist an ailing secondary. Needless to say, the Dolphins found that in one of the most natural cornerbacks selected in this year’s draft—Vontae Davis.

On the flip side, many would disagree. If those two oppositions had a debate today it would probably sound something like this:

“He’s a big physical, naturally gifted corner that can play man coverage...”

“…but he lacks work ethic and consistency.”

“He is also horrible in zone coverage…”

“…but Davis will give you a lot of run support.”

“Vontae is a versatile athlete. He can play corner, safety, or the nickel-back position without struggling at this level.”

“…but we’re talking about the same guy who was benched by Illinois who is no where near being a powerhouse.”

The conversation could go on for hours. The only thing that all of these opinions and comments have in common is the lingering “but” that separates them.

Is he really everything that the Dolphins envision him to be? Of course he is. They wouldn’t have drafted him if they didn’t see potential, right?

Is Vontae Davis going to be a stud, a force to reckon with? Or will he be an underachiever, unfortunately, like his older brother Vernon Davis of the 49ers whom many are still waiting for to have that “breakout” year?

A possible thought that may strike concern in many Phins fans.

Regardless, as a Dolphin fan, I deserve to know what my team is dealing with. We don’t need another set of cookie cutter, sugar-coated, apple pie in the sky interviews; there are some things we demand to know.

Here are my five hard nosed questions that need to be answered:


1. Many people may say that you are cocky and arrogant. Without playing a down in the NFL, do you think that the spectators' perception of you is wrong or do you feel like it’s an earned ego?

“…Because Vontae sure loves him some Vontae!”

After referring to himself in a previous interview in third person, one must question where all of this could be heading.

Two players come to mind when I think of arrogance. One of them is T.O, though arrogant and annoying, he still backed everything up with his play on the field. The next person is the infamous Adam “Pac Man” Jones who is just a complete knucklehead and a waste of good, genuine talent. Oddly, Davis is being compared left and right to Adam Jones. Watch out, Dolphins.

2. You are indeed fast, no doubt about that, but the NFL is on a completely different level than college. How well do you think you will fare against the likes of the NFL’s top receivers?

In 2009, the Dolphins secondary will have their plates full with top-tier receivers, known to disrupt and win games single-handed. They will face the likes of Randy Moss, Lee Evans, Steve Smith, Santonio Holmes, etc. Can he handle the pressure?


3. Bill Parcells has been known for relying on the 3-4 Defense throughout his entire coaching career. This means that, as a defensive back, you will have a lot more field to cover, so how do you fit in this scheme?

The University of Illinois was known to use a Pro 4-3 Defense. As a cornerback in such a defense, the goal is to force the receiver inside and keep him away from the sideline; you’re basically playing man most of the time with some assistance over the top. Can Vontae survive in a scheme that is zone based when he has been bred to play the man?


4. So it’s 4th-and-goal, your opponent is about eight yards out from the goal line, and the Dolphins are winning by four points. There is only six seconds left in the game and it decides whether you earn a playoff berth or not.

Your opponent is the Patriots. You are well aware that this is a “copycat league.” You realize that the Patriots are using the Wildcat formation for this possible game-winning play. How do you defend against the possible run or pass coming your way?

Is it a strong scenario, yes, but it is very possible. The Dolphins weren’t the first to use the Wildcat formation and they surely won’t be the last. In 2004 the Panthers used it on the Falcons. The Raiders used it in 2008 against the Denver Broncos in their season opener. If it gave a 1-15 record team hope and an Eastern Division title, why wouldn’t other teams begin to use it and make this formation into their own?


5. It was said that you were benched at Illinois for lack of drive and being lazy, which raises a concern for many die-hard Dolphin fans. What guarantee can you give to reassure Phins fans that you aren’t just all talk?

In 2008 versus Iowa, Vontae Davis was benched by head Coach Ron Zook to “light a fire” under him. There is too much at stake this year for Dolphin fans to be worrying about Mr. Davis’ hunger down the line when things may not be going his way.

Martin Luther King Jr. said it best: “The true measure of a man is not where he stands in time of comfort and convenience but where he stands in times of challenge and controversy.”

Truer words were never spoken, but we shall see.

Nonetheless, there's one thing to consider before I go. Vontae Davis, without a doubt, is talented, and with Sean Smith or even Eric Green, is it possible that we may see a secondary duo that would be as strong as the former Miami gruesome two-some Patrick Surtain and Sam Madison? Only time will tell.


That’s my nickel with a three-cent rebate. Take care.