Drafted in the fifth round out of Michigan State in the 2008 draft, TE Kellen Davis struggled in his first year with the Chicago Bears. While Greg Olsen continued to improve and Desmond Clark continued to solidify his importance in the passing game, Davis stood back on Sundays—struggling (or perhaps unwilling to put in the effort) to properly learn the offense.
But this year brings a brand new day, and Davis seems to be coming along in the Bears’ plans, according to tight ends coach Rob Boras. Boras discussed Davis in a recent discussion with ChicagoBears.com writer, Larry Mayer.
“He’s getting better. It’s all about trying to find the consistency. Once you’re consistent, the quarterbacks, the coaches and everybody start to have trust in you,” Boras said.
“There are still some ups and downs for him, but the biggest jump everyone always says is from your first year to your second, so we’re expecting him to make that big jump. If he can play with consistency, he’ll be a guy that can get on the field and hopefully make some plays for us.”
Boras’ statement is significant in that it presents an answer for many wondering what Kellen Davis’ future would be in Chicago once TE Michael Gaines was signed as a blocking tight end—a role Davis was drafted to fill—last May out from Detroit. It appears that Davis is sticking around…for now.
That wouldn’t be a bad idea for the Bears.
No one questioned Davis’ athleticism or size at the 2008 NFL combines. At 6’7” and 260 pounds, Davis earned an All-Big Ten honorable mention and showed loads of potential out of his breakout senior season in East Lansing.
Many scouts said Davis has the size and athleticism that any team would look for from a tight end. Heck, the guy even lined up as a defensive end for the Spartans on occasion for marginal success.
But what people questioned was his lack of dedication to making himself better on the field and, yes, even off. His 2006 arrest from an East Lansing scuffle didn’t help his cause come draft night. As for his play, scouts found that Davis hadn’t shown a willingness to improve his route-running and blocking.
Still, his potential was undeniable, and the Bears made their investment in the former Spartan. So, that begs the question: was Davis’ lack of development in his first year just a somewhat-typical rookie year? Or was the lack of development, well, a lack of effort?
Only Davis and the coaches will know for sure. But Keeping Davis around is a good idea at the very least for the depth that Davis allows. Having Davis as insurance will give the Bears more security with having Olsen and Clark on the field together, preferably in double-tight end sets.
However, it also gives Ron Turner the flexibility of using Michael Gaines as a fullback (as he has stated is an occasional possibility), since Gaines thus will not have to necessarily be that insurance.
Still, Davis can make his best contribution on the field.
“He’s such a big body that he could be a red zone threat for us just because of his pure size. He has great straight-line speed,” Boras said.
Hopefully, Davis can be successful and present another threat in the Chicago arsenal. For even if Davis doesn’t fit into the Bears’ future plans, his success can ultimately lead to a beneficial trading chip for the Bears.
Personally, I wish it doesn’t come to those complexities as a Bears fan who happens to be a MSU alum. But if it does play out that way, at least Davis will have came along just fine.
“Like everybody, he’s a work in progress,” Boras said.