From now until the 2017 NFL Draft takes place, we hope to showcase as many prospects as possible and examine both their strengths and weaknesses. Most of these profiles will feature individuals that the Pittsburgh Steelers are likely to have an interest in, while a few others will be top-ranked players. If there is a player you would like us to analyze, let us know in the comments below.
#93 Keionta Davis / DE / 6’3 271 lbs
– Long reach (34” arms) and big hands (9 ½”)
– Uses long arms to keep distance and separate from blockers
– Intelligent tackler, recognizes opportunities to rip the ball loose
– Possesses some bend around the edge
– Good upper body power
– Dominated against lesser competition
– Stiff hips lead to slow lateral movement
– Struggles with changing direction vs cutback runs
– Needs to be more consistent with timing his jump
– Slow reading the direction of the run
– Loses ground too often in run defense
– 2016: 44 tackles, 11.5 TFL, 10.5 sacks, 3 FF
– Career: 132 tackles, 43 TFL, 31 sacks, 8 FF
– Voted SoCon Defensive Player of the Year for 2016 season
– Selected First Team All SoCon for 13.5 sack season in 2015
– Named SoCon All Freshman in 2013
– Second most sacks in Chattanooga history
– Invited to the 2017 Senior Bowl
Another small school prospect who has been making some noise is Chattanooga defensive end Keionta Davis. At 6’3 and 271 pounds, Davis certainly has the appropriate size for a 4-3 end or 3-4 outside linebacker. Having a great frame is just a small part of the equation as Davis will have to substitute in multiple areas of his game to provide a clear answer of his talent level.
Gifted with incredibly long arms (34”), Davis is able to use his greatest weapon to extend and separate from blockers. In allegiance with his strong upper body strength, Davis can pack a punch on his way to the quarterback.
With a violent shove, Davis almost puts the Jacksonville State left tackle on his backside on the play above. The push leads to Davis finding a clear inside path to the quarterback and would have ultimately led to a sack, had the Jacksonville State left guard not pulled back in to help.
While Davis’ production could be the result of playing against lesser competition, his case is only boosted by turning in quality performances against higher ranked teams such as Alabama. Watch on the play below as Davis is able to replicate his impressive hand work against a more talented Alabama offensive line.
Undoubtedly the most important piece of the edge equation is determining how well the individual can rush the passer. Solving Davis’ edge rushing abilities is a far more complex task than it appears. With 31 career sacks, Davis’ numbers back up his ability to rush the passer but his athleticism and tape offer some compelling arguments.
Davis does have some ability to turn the edge to get to quarterback as judging by the play above but may face some underlying difficulties at the next level. Davis’ path to the quarterback took just about four seconds on the sack above, a time luxury that Davis will not have the benefit of in the NFL. If Davis can trim some of the stiffness off his game, it could work wonders for his skillset.
A major concern for Davis is that the lineman’s production drops as the competition level increases. While Davis may have been the big fish in a small pond for majority of his college career, he did tend to struggle against more formidable opponents.
Here Davis is one on one with top tackle prospect Cam Robinson. A moment that smaller school prospects dream for – the opportunity to outmatch a top tier tackle. As you might expect, Robinson overmatches Davis, widening the defensive lineman out of his gap. As Davis recovers from the block, a noticeable hitch in his step is also seen. Davis’ talent may just be a step too slow to be a major contributor at the next level.
The most reasonable comparison for Davis is former LSU defensive end Sam Montgomery. Though Davis will likely not be selected in the third round like Montgomery, both ends were 6’3, 270 pounds with a long frame. Both ends had some edge ability but struggled with escaping their robotic lower body.
As for the Steelers, if the team has any interest in selecting Davis it will be a late round project pick with the intention of transitioning him from a 4-3 end to a outside linebacker.
Projection: Late Day Three (Round 6-7)
Games Watched: vs Alabama, vs Jacksonville State