2016 NFL Draft Player Profiles: Maryland CB/S Sean Davis

COLLEGE PARK, MD - SEPTEMBER 19: Sean Davis #21 of the Maryland Terrapins returns an interception against the South Florida Bulls at Byrd Stadium on September 19, 2015 in College Park, Maryland. (Photo by G Fiume/Maryland Terrapins/Getty Images)

As you should know by now, our attention has now shifted to the 2016 NFL Draft as it relates to the prospects. From now until the draft takes place, we hope to profile as many draft prospects as we possibly can for you. Most of these player profiles will be centered around prospects the Pittsburgh Steelers are likely to have interest in.

A corner/safety hybrid. Maryland’s Sean Davis.

#21 – Sean Davis/CB/S Maryland: 6011, 201 (Senior Bowl measurements)

The Good

– Fluid backpedal, covers a lot of ground with low hips
– Smooth hips
– Excellent click and close
– Instinctual and focused playing downhill
– Recognizes and plays to routes
– Experience at SS, FS, CB, punt gunner
– Not afraid to get nose dirty
– Has played zone, off-man, despite almost no experience in press

The Bad

– Takes one step too many on playactions/backpedals, can get caught out of place as a result
– Weak taking on blocks
– Drops head and vision when tackling
– Gives receivers too much of a cushion, trusting his downhill play
– Vision poor in open field
– Starts his backpedal too early, needs to let receiver declare route and react


– Has had more than 88 tackles in the last 3 seasons (SR: 88, JR: 115, SOPH: 103)
– 5 FF his senior season
– Played in 50 career games, 40 starts
– Trilingual in English, French and Chinese
– Accepted Maryland over North Carolina, Boston College and Connecticut
– Only started playing football junior year of high school

Tape Breakdown

Really nice backpedal from Davis. Low-hips, fluid, and then plants his back foot in the ground to come up and play the receiver running the out. For comparison, look at the boundary corner (Will Likely, who elected to return to school instead of declaring) at the bottom of the screen. Likely’s backpedal is ungainly, his hips are too high, and he is unable to go straight back. Davis covers a lot more ground and is able to break on the ball easier.

I always value tackling and physicality when I scout cornerbacks. Why is that? Quite simply, it’s a physical league, and corners are often outmatched or outweighed by receivers. Guys like Davis (who isn’t small by any means) who play aggressively and physically are always higher on my board.

Here, he is playing boundary LCB. As the force player, he has to stay outside and re-direct everything back inside. Once he recognizes the FB hit the B gap, he knows the direction of the run and closes. That’s almost a safety-level of play from a corner, appropriate considering Davis’ background of position versatility.

In this Cover 2 zone defense, Davis draws Michigan TE Jake Butt in coverage. Note his smooth, quick hip flip at the 30-yard line and burst to keep with Butt on the corner route. He positions the route well and stays downfield of Butt to allow the safety to play the other side. However, he gets manhandled and absolutely walled by Butt in the open field and can’t fight through the block. Low effort?

Again, here’s that nice downhill attack from Davis. However, he drops his head and doesn’t see what he’s hitting. While it went well here, that’s a major flag that comes up again on tape.

Davis has a few absolute head-scratchers of plays. Here, Davis is the playside boundary corner, aligned about 7 yards off the ball at the snap. He slips the block well, but ducks his head and completely whiffs on the tackle in space, allowing the score. This isn’t what you want from an outside corner.

This one is another good example. Although he carries the receiver’s hard 9 well from Cover 4, he has absolutely no open-field vision of TE Butt. He ends up trying to cut the OL, which makes no sense. There is no reason to submarine the OL in open field when the TE has already started looking back inside, much less if there is no one behind you to take advantage of an OL down. Davis ends up on the ground with a TE loose in the secondary.

Finally, here’s a look at Davis in man coverage. As I mentioned above, Davis has a tendency of giving up too much cushion in man. Here, he flips his hips but just overruns the route by about 5-6 yards. After losing his balance, he’s lucky that such an uneasy tackle attempt grabs hold of a shoelace, because he could have been in far larger trouble.


Davis is the kind of guy you want playing downhill in a phone booth. Playing downhill, his instincts are on display and his tackling is good. He’s asked to react, not necessarily read. When he has to scan the field and track what’s going on, he looks lost almost immediately.

That’s disappointing, considering Davis has great hips and backpedal. Theoretically, those would allow him to play more free in space, but his head just limits him too much. When he has to play in the open field, he either ducks his head on tackles or doesn’t play to the ball. Unfortunately, it probably also excludes him from seeing consistent game time at the free safety position in the NFL.

Although Davis switched from safety to cornerback in the college ranks, I think he might well be better flipping back. He honestly could find some success in a strong safety/robber role that requires him to diagnose his field of vision, not the field at large. NFL coaches will need to simplify the game for him at first and ease his transition by making his reads more simple. Putting him in a position to do that will help him develop. I think he could transition from that back to cornerback, but I’d rather see it in a zone-heavy scheme. Should have an immediate special teams impact with his gunner experience.

Projection: Fifth Round

Games Watched: at Iowa, at West Virginia, Michigan

Previous Player Profiles
Hunter HenryEli AppleLaquon TreadwellDadi NicolasKendall Fuller
Deion JonesJihad WardKevin PetersonVonn BellMichael Caputo
Andrew BillingsMackensie AlexanderTyler ErvinAustin BlytheChris Jones
Sheldon RankinsNoah SpenceJordan JenkinsYannick NgakoueDarian Thompson
Bryce WilliamsCre’von LeblancHenry Krieger-CobleLeonard FloydJosh Garnett
Kevin HoganCorey ColemanShaq LawsonAustin JohnsonDeAndre Houston-Carson
William Jackson IIIVernon Butler

About the Author

Luc Polglaze
If it's not about football, it's about music. Colorado born and raised, living in DC now.
  • Bill Sechrengost

    Thanks Luc. I’ve heard this guy’s name mentioned a few times before. Most of the other reviews I’ve seen also mention he would be better going back to the safety position. Despite the concerns you bring up, I still like him as a mid-to-late round draft pick. Some sites have him going higher, though.

  • Bigcity157

    Watched every md game the past few years. Def needs to go back to safety, he was a killer back there and was basically playing all by himself. Not to mention he played under possibly the worst coaching staff of all the power 5 schools. Would be interesting to see what he does with some real coaching and technique being taught. I love this guy, glad he was able to graduate before he could be totally ruined by Edsall like Kenny Tate was.

  • Jake Milman

    I like him at Safety more than corner

  • Donald Tillman

    I want to see his change of direction in the cone drills. Lots of awesome information since the end of the season!!! Thank you. Very much appreciate your efforts @ Steeler Depot.

  • turtlefart1

    Nice job Luc. Still can’t find any footage of his games at safety on youtube/draft breakdown. Late start in football will definitely require some film room catch up. Has the movement skills, but maybe would best fit in a more established NFL secondary so he has the time to learn the nuances?? Gotta like he was willing to work at both positions though.
    Small school sleeper pick request: TE Beau Sandland Montana St. Junior college then Miami then Mont St. Oh and he loves Heath Miller!!!

  • OIF3gunner

    Or the 2nd round! Haha

  • TrappenWeisseGuy ;

    Reaching for the skies again lol.

  • PittsburghSports

    Ouch 5th rd? I had him going rd 2-3, so I think we made a good pick on a very fluid athlete. I think your last paragraph describes the situation well tho.

  • RickM

    ‘he looks lost almost immediately” OMG. Guaranteed the majority of Steelers’ fans will ignore this evaluation and make him into something special lol.

  • Paddy

    He is a strong safety but wont play in box ever

  • Phil Brenneman II

    Yeah that is scary considering what we already have in Shemarko Thomas. We need a ball guy, not another in the box thumper.

  • NinjaMountie

    Bro, read NFL site scouting report. It has him going in the 2nd or 3rd and the really love him at Safety. I love this site but it doesn’t make all the scouting reports absolute law.

  • I was just about to say this, I thought this report was a bit harsh on him. Lake believes he reads and reacts and can cover well on the back end.

    Not for nothing Dave or Alex have been doing this a few years now, Luc, I haven’t seen you name before today so I’ll take your write ups with a grain of salt.

  • AJP

    He is going to need to tackle, since this defense will not be able to stop the run.

  • SkoolHouseRoxx

    How so? We were good in run Defense.

  • gentry_gee

    The 5th rounder turned into SECOND.

  • OIF3gunner

    I think this profile was done before the combine…

  • NinjaMountie

    Not saying Luc is messed up. I’m just pointing out that there are other opinions out there and not to take any of them as a certainty.

  • RickM

    I trust Luc’s evaluation and what Mayock said about the guy. And virtually every one has said he laid down some bad 2015 tape. You can sugarcoat it all you want. He was an absolute reach at 58, especially for a team that needs immediate help at a number of defensive positions.

  • RickM

    And the combine in spandex is so much more important than what a player shows in actual football games.

  • Meredith

    Did anyone prefer Darian Thompson over Sean Davis? Just wondering

  • RickM

    It’s another combine pick. Geez, Tomlin saw it doesn’t matter what guys do in shorts and then he is significantly influenced by the combine.

  • NinjaMountie

    You can be down on all the picks if you like. Seek out the bad evals but ignore the good ones. That doesn’t make sense to me. I’ve personally watched the kid play a lot. I think he’s got what it takes to be a good NFL safety. Just my opinion..not Luc’s or Maycock’s…just mine.

  • NinjaMountie

    actually, with DBs, you’d be surprised on how much weight it’s given.

  • RickM

    I hope you are right, because they cannot afford to waste high picks right now. I still think he would have been there for us late in the 3rd round.

  • RickM

    Seems like you seek out the good evaluations by the way. Pot calling the kettle black much. I don’t seek out bad evaluations. This article is from Steelers Depot and was re-posted tonight.

  • NinjaMountie

    It’s possible he could have been. Will not deny that. However, if they both work out and have even just decent years and then go on next year to be pretty solid, we will be looking at this draft as a huge success. That’s why I’m waiting. A bust at proper value is just a bust…a bust that’s a reach is still just a bust.

  • Jeff Papiernik

    This looks like the write up was with him at corner. Completely different prospect at safety

  • Jeff Papiernik

    It was also done with him primarily at corner

  • Jeff Papiernik

    I did, but I trust the front office knows what they’re doing. They brought both in for visits. They obviously saw something we didn’t.

  • NinjaMountie

    Well, I’m on record of wanting this guy. So, it’s not that I seek out the positive evals. Remember, I have been the one that never liked Jarvis Jones. Still, I didn’t melt down (not saying you are) over Jones. I’m pretty even by nature, I guess. For the record, I don’t go by evals very much. I usually rely on what I think from what I see. I just used these evals to prove that you can find many that say different things. It’s all good, my friend, we’ll just have to wait and see (and hope) that these are the right picks.

  • The Chin

    Frankly I did not care for Thompson. I’m
    Glad he’s elsewhere to be perfectly honest.

  • thomas hmmmm

    Those gifs are of him at Corner.. .He won’t be playing corner with Pitt.

    He will be a Safety with better coverage skills than most safeties.. In college he was covering WR, imagine him on a TE in the pros.. Reminds me of McCourty from NE. Who was a corner in college and playes safety in the NFL only thing this kid played safety his first three years and corner his last.

  • RickM

    So in the second round we basically took a guy who played safety once, but was considered by his team as better as a corner and now we’re putting him back at safety where he wasn’t all that good to begin with (i.e. they moved him to CB so there’s no way he was a really good safety). That’s fine for a 5th or 6th round pick. A 2nd-rounder? Wow. To me it’s the most stunning 2nd round pick in a long, long time. If I’m wrong on this one down the road I’ll enthusiastically admit it. I wonder if all the guys defending this strange pick will do the same.

  • Bigcity157

    The comps on Thompsons athletic numbers were not good. I dont think I saw one starter on the list of safeties that had his 40, vert, etc.. Plus he doesn’t tackle, Davis is a much better selection IMO.

  • RickM

    I don’t mind for a second admitting I melted down, which I didn’t do on JJ (had no real reaction to him other than feeling a lot of fans were down on him which made me wonder about the selection). With all the talent available to us and the criticality of this pick, I think this was beyond strange. But it has Mike Tomlin written all over it.

  • Jeff Papiernik

    Actually he played safety for 3 years before playing corner last year. He only did that because their defense was in such bad shape that they had no one else. Probably helped improve his coverage skills some, but his natural position is safety. I saw many mocks with him going early 2nd. I think this guy has the right combination of athletic straights, tackling ability, and coverage skills. He’s definitely growing on me already. The only one I may have considered over him with the same skill set is Justin Simmons.

  • RickM

    From a Maryland newspaper in November 2014: “If Johnson’s health improves heading into next week’s game against Michigan State could cause Edsall to move Davis back to strong safety, where he has been a full-time starter since last season. However, it is also possible that Edsall could leave Davis at cornerback — or at least revisit the possibility of a permanent change after the season. Davis has had some noticeable blunders at safety, beaten or exploited in coverage for several big plays and touchdowns.”

    Sorry, but he did not play overly well at Safety. Yes injuries triggered the move, but so did poor play.

  • Jeff Papiernik

    Guess you don’t believe in maturation and growth at the position. You want a kid to be Charles Woodson by sophomore year.

  • RickM

    Facts don’t matter, I get it. Theory is everything.

  • Thanks for all the GIFs and the games!

  • Applebite

    I did. Although, I liked them both. I think many read too much into the measurables.

    For example, LeVeon ran a 4.6/40 at the combine. Anyone complaining about his speed right now? For what it’s worth, game speed won’t always show up during a timed run. And not every player knows how to run with technique.

    I liked Thompson’s production more. Thompson is better than given credit for in his ability to tackle. He’s aggressive going after the runner. And he’s shown that he has the hands to change the game.

    I think the difference between them, ultimately, was the level of talent they played. Davis was in the ACC. Thompson didn’t have to face the level of talent Davis did week to week. And I bet that was part of the deciding factor for the Steelers.

  • PaeperCup

    I prefered quite a few players over Sean Davis. Thompson, Justin Simmons, Kevin Byard….But this isn’t a bad pick. Maybe a little high of pick, but they like the guy, I like the guy…The JAvon Hargrave pick in the third nullifies this reach, because it was such a steal.

  • PaeperCup

    thompson is a great tackler….I like Davis, but Thompson played some great ball up at BSU, A play maker who isn’t afraid to hit.

  • Bigcity157

    There’s a big difference between being a great tackler and being willing to do it. He isn’t Holliman, but he is not a “good” tackler, he just launches himself and hopes he gets lucky.

  • Bigcity157

    Leveon doesn’t play safety, he plays running back. How the fvck are you comparing the two? Find one safety with his numbers that’s halfway decent.

  • Applebite

    Comparing one man running to another man running is wrong? Running isn't position specific. You seem angry here, perhaps you need to rest for awhile?