It’s almost a consensus among the draft community that Jarrad Davis is the most talented linebacker prospect in this class after Alabama’s Reuben Foster. The three year starter for the Florida Gators has the stats to back up such praise. In Davis’ four year college career, he amassed 201 total tackles with 20.5 TFL and 5.5 sacks. Davis also intercepted one pass and forced one fumble in his collegiate career.
So, obviously, the talent is there for Davis so why is there little to no first round talk about him? It is likely due to the fact that Davis was hampered by many injuries in his time at Florida, suffering from a meniscus injury his sophomore season and playing on an injured ankle this past year. Despite those injuries and other concerns though, Davis does have the potential to be a first round pick in this relatively weak inside linebacker class.
Name: Jarrad Davis
Comparison: Lavonte David (Tampa Bay Buccaneers)
Draft Grade: Early 2nd Round
Strengths: Very active player, always around the football. Has an endless motor that many teams will fall in love with. Very good tackler particularly in the run game. Closing speed and range from sideline to sideline are everything you want in an NFL linebacker. Overall athleticism is a positive. Coverage ability is very impressive, has the ability to shadow running backs and tight ends with relative ease. Very nasty and mean player, always looking for contact when given the opportunity. Leader on a very good Florida defense is a plus. Team player, which was evident by his willingness to play through an ankle injury the second half of his Junior season.
Weaknesses: Extremely overaggressive at times, often times missing easy tackles while looking for the big hit. His undisciplined nature also leads to him being out of position on play fakes and read option type plays. Fairly undersized for his style of play which could lead to more injuries in the NFL. Concerns on how he holds up playing the middle linebacker spot may lead to a position change to OLB or SS. Struggles to shed blockers once engaged, lacks the proper strength and hand usage to shed offensive lineman which again may be a testament to his smaller stature.
Outlook: Jarrad Davis is everything teams look for in a “New Age Linebacker.” He is extremely athletic, loves contact, and has the ability to cover tight ends and running backs with ease. He also checks every box in terms of intangibles. He was a great leader and an even better team player in college. The only real flaws in his game that may dissatisfy scouts are his injury history and overaggressive tendencies. A team will have to calm down his style of play and teach him discipline in order for him to have a long and successful NFL career. Overall though, Davis is one of the better linebacker prospects in this class who defensive coaches will fall in love with.