2017 NFL Draft Player Profiles: Florida ILB Jarrad Davis

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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.

Jarrad Davis/ILB Florida – 6’1 238

The Good

– Good frame and excellent length (33 1/2 arms) for size
– Easy-mover, top level athlete, rangy, sideline to sideline player whose game speed matches test speed (4.58)
– Heavy hands and strong punch against the run, initiates contact against OL and hand use to shed blocks, run fits are really strong
– Shows good technique against the run, stays square vs the run and uses leverage well, especially when taking on pullers on gap schemes
– Generally does well in coverage, able to carry the seam against #3 or the Y, and does well to stay in-phase and shows ability to locate the football to make a play on it
– High effort player, doesn’t loaf, and a physical tackler, especially in space
– Does well on zone spot drops with good feel for WRs routes and ability to close windows
– Limited use as a pass rusher but first step is an asset and shows a rip move

The Bad

– Not the biggest or strongest, lacks some upper body strength, and can get washed by big, powerful guards or tackles who are able to get square and get into his pad level
– Also causes some issues wrapping up and finishing plays against bigger backs
– A bit predictable but struggled more v top flight competition (Alabama, LSU) and excelled against lower teams (Kentucky, Vanderbilt)
– Eyes match feet most of the time but occasionally loses sight of the football and is late to react, hard to pin down exact issue
– Injury concerns and struggled to stay healthy on a consistent basis throughout his career, minor ones that added up over time
– Starting experience is a bit below average because of injuries

Bio

– 23 career starts, two year full-time starter when healthy for the Gators
– Career: 201 tackles, 20 TFL, 5.5 sacks, 2 FF, 1 INT
– 2016: 60 tackles, 6 TFL, 2 sacks in nine games
– Missed four games in 2016 with high ankle sprain, gutted injury out and returned late in year but wasn’t same player and injury flared back up
– Suffered torn meniscus, ended 2014 season
– Named team’s MVP on special teams as a freshmen

Tape Breakdown

Want to find the next Lawrence Timmons? You found him – it’s Jarrad Davis. And Davis may be even more athletic. He’s an excellent athlete, showing sideline-to-sideline range and the ability to carry receivers and tight ends down the seam.

His 15 tackle performance against Vanderbilt is one of the best individual games I’ve watched from anyone in this year’s draft. He showed the ability to cover the seam and run step-for-step downfield. 3rd and long? You’re going to want someone who can match and carry? Perfect example here.

Or here, undercutting this out route by the tight end and nearly – probably should’ve, really – come away with the interception.

You can’t expect him to run with a WR on some of the fire zones, though that’s going to happen sometimes just based on the offense’s route tree, but he can match up against pretty much any WR or RB in the league. On paper, at least.

That athleticism shows sideline-to-sideline too, where Timmons was still strong even in 2016.

Davis’ first step and length helps him with a strong punch that can win the POA when he’s able to initiate contact. It helps mitigate the lack of side and upper body strength. Watch LT Cam Robinson, one of the top tackles in the draft, get knocked back by Davis.

But when he can’t, or he’s catching the OL, he will struggle because his upper body strength is only average. He’s not a particularly huge dude. Man blocking schemes and big guards or tackles can give him problems, even if they’re not great linemen overall, like Vadal Alexander in 2015.

He’s the RILB, getting pushed upfield across the 35 yard line in the clip before – #40.

There are the injury concerns though honestly, it might be overstated, which I’ve described above. But Davis did say the medical check-up at the Combine was “rough,” which could just be a general statement because yeah, getting poked and prodded by half the league sucks.

I’ve been a big proponent of Vince Williams, and still am of course, but Davis is seriously the next Timmons. And there is no question Davis is a significantly better athlete than Williams, someone who can play on third down and minimize the need for that hybrid player. It’s a heavy investment, and I’m not saying they should do it, they’re bigger needs elsewhere, but I’m confident Davis is going to be a starter for the long-haul. And there’s never a bad direction to go.

Projection: Late Day One

Games Watched: vs Ole Miss (2015), at LSU (2015), vs Kentucky, at Tennessee, at Vanderbilt, vs Alabama

Previous 2017 NFL Draft Player Profiles
Deshaun WatsonHaason ReddickMarshon LattimoreCorey ClementTim Williams
Jourdan LewisTakkarist McKinleyBrad KaayaNathan PetermanO.J. Howard
Charles HarrisAlvin KamaraTyus BowserDavid NjokuDeMarcus Walker
Chidobe AwuzieDeShone KizerMarlon MackCameron SuttonZach Cunningham
Corey DavisCarl LawsonPatrick MahomesKareem HuntEvan Engram
Derek RiversRyan AndersonJoshua DobbsJordan LeggettSamaje Perine
Corn ElderBucky HodgesJames ConnerCooper KuppStanley Williams
Fred RossJamaal WilliamsGeorge KittleEjuan PriceChris Wormley
Jeremy McNicholsJoe MathisDerek BarnettAmba Etta-TawoGareon Conley
Taco Charlton Elijah McGuireRyan SwitzerTanoh KpassagnonTre’Davious White
Brian HillMatthew DayesDonnel PumphreyJosh ReynoldsNazair Jones
De’Veon SmithDavis WebbObi MelifonwuTJ WattJohn Ross
Jerod EvansVince BiegelJosh CarrawayJosh MaloneKevin King
Fadol BrownChris GodwinNate GerryJordan WillisStacy Coley
Zay JonesJimmie GilbertGlen AntoineTarell BashamDuke Riley
Rayshawn JenkinsChad KellyTrey HendricksonJeremy SprinkleJoe Williams
D’Onta ForemanCarlos WatkinsDamontae KazeeWayne GallmanWillie Quinn
Xavier WoodsElijah HoodMalik McDowellDesmond KingSolomon Thomas
Cordrea TankersleyRaekwon McMillanJosh Harvey-ClemonsChristian McCaffreyChris Carson
Montravius AdamsAaron JonesMack HollinsDeatrich Wise JrAdoree’ Jackson
JuJu Smith-SchusterJosh JonesDavon GodchauxLorenzo JeromeQuincy Wilson
Stevie Tu’ikolovatuMike WilliamsAhkello WitherspoonDede WestbrookTedric Thompson
Marcus MayeJoe MixonTaywan TaylorTyson Fernandez

About the Author

Alex Kozora

Full-time blogger from mom’s basement. Marrying tape and statistics. Chidi Iwuoma is my favorite Steeler of all-time.

  • steelburg

    I said a week or so back he should be an option for our first round pick and I stand by that. But this is my issue I have done a ton of simulator drafts and IMO it makes the most sense to grab the OLB with our first pick. A lot of the guys that we have had reported interest in that are too tier will be gone IMO by the time we pick at 2-62. Walter Football has about 12 or more guys that can be considered edge rushers going between pick 1 and 62. I’m convinced that we need to get the OLB in the first round and then go from there.

  • Boots

    I think I’d prefer Anzalone a little later

  • Bill Sechrengost

    Thanks Alex. You just keep adding to the possibilities for the Steelers in the first round. They should be getting a really good player in the first round who should be able to help them this year. That’s always a good thing, no matter what position it is.

  • george

    Unless they blow it on a QB!

  • pittsburghjoe

    Alex, how can he be the next Timmons if he gets washed by more powerful linemen? Timmons was a thumper, this guy is not.

  • srdan

    That’s recent Timmons. Timmons came to the Stillers as a 20 year old LB that looked like a beefy safety. He didn’t materialize overnight, but over his career he became what you described. Plus 94 played every snap of his career darn near.

    I will miss Timm, but I’d rather get rid of players a year early than one late.

  • popsiclesticks

    This guy in any other draft would be getting a lot of pub, but this class is so stacked that few people even mentioned him.

  • steelburg

    I would too. I would take Anzalona with one of my 2 3rd round picks.

  • pittsburghjoe

    Ok. That makes sense. I just have a gut feeling that going the way of Peppers or Obi may better serve the need.

  • srdan

    On that I agree. When timmons came in the league a FB was a prominent role in offenses around the league.

  • Shannon Stephenson

    Davis has been on my short list for quite awhile now. There are not many quality ILB’s in this draft that can play as a 3 down ILB. If he is there in the 1st there should be very strong consideration for this guy. I too love VW and if he is the starter I stand behind him but I feel he would get exploited on early rounds as teams would pass to get the mismatch.

  • Nicholas Arnhold

    Davis was just interviewed on the Draft Dudes Podcast today and sounds like the type of competitor that would really fit in the Black and Gold. Tons of competitiveness, nasty, and knows what it takes to make good use of free time. I’d still prefer OLB and CB ahead of ILB, but I wouldn’t be upset about this pick after hearing him talk.

  • Alex Kozora

    It’s not a huge concern. No one is going to be perfect coming out. From their athletic profile, to the bit they can provide as a pass rusher, to their toughness/leadersip, they fit. It’s always going to be similar, never exact.

  • harding36

    I could totally see this. I’m not sure I buy the team’s supposed confidence in Vince Williams, since they apparently tried to overpay for Hightower.

  • Reg Sayhitodabadguy Hunt

    Which is why I think a lot of talent gonna go in a later round

  • Pete DelleGrazie

    He’s a legit option at 30. Reddick will be gone and Lawson’s and injury history is a concern. Working against it is the significant need at edge and while it’s a deep draft at the position who’s starting at 2 or 3?? I’m taking Obi if he’s there or best CB on the boards at the time…if not edge.

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  • Darth Blount 47

    Davis is the only Florida Gator I’d probably consider. But like you intimated, what are you willing to spend, draft capital-wise, to get him? ILB is NOT as strong as some of the other defensive positions this year, IMO. And I still like Reddick more than him, as a guy I would convert over to the Inside. But because of more position scarcity, the ILB’s will naturally be pushed up higher. I said in an earlier article about Florida, that I’d stay away from the Gators, but was going to add the caveat that Davis is the only one I’m considering. And he is. Would I want to have to use 30 overall to get him? No. Not if we are truly going to give Vince his shot. But would I spend 62 on Davis if he were there and we properly invested at 30? Yeah, I think I would. I tend to like guys who had a bit more college production, but everyone you talk to (read about) rave about this kid and his work ethic and character. So he’s probably worth a 2nd rd gamble for us. I just doubt that he’s still there come 62.

  • RickM

    Right or wrong, I always place the most importance on the games against good competition, because that’s what he’ll face week after week in the NFL. So if you feel he “struggled more” against better competition, he’s not for me…as a high draft pick anyways.

  • Jay Hallauer

    Love the idea of him next to shazier for the next few years. Heard the kid is a leader in the locker room too

  • Jay Hallauer

    Anzalone has a lenghty injury history

  • Scott Thomas

    Jarrad Davis makes claims that Anzalone is just as good as he is. They’re both awesome. Alex can’t stay on the dang field though