By Dylan MacKinnon
Chuck Bednarik Award winner, Outland Trophy winner, First Team All-SEC, unanimous All American, and National Champion. The first thing Jordan Davis may need to do when he gets his first NFL paycheck is to buy a trophy case to store all the hardware he earned during his final year at Georgia. Davis came a long way from being the 424th ranked recruit in the Nation to now being a likely first-round pick and many people’s DT 1 in this year’s draft. He anchored the Nation’s top defense that held Alabama 20 pts below their season average to win the National Championship game. But is he a fit for the Eagles?
Strong, and Quick to Boot
The first thing you will notice when you turn on the tape of Jordan Davis is his size. At 6 foot 6, 340 pounds, big is an understatement. Many of the offensive linemen he faces, look up at him. And the size is not for show. His play strength is phenomenal. It is hard to find many examples where he gives up ground to blockers. More often they give up the ground to him. And he has the skill to match his exceptional size and strength. The way he uses his hands particularly stands out. Yes, he can use strong and violent techniques to beat his blocker. But we also see him use his hands in smart ways as well to disengage the blocker and make a run stop, or at least force another blocker to help, allowing a teammate to then make a play.
Here is what his coach, Kirby Smart, had to say about him.
“Godzilla like. He’s impactful, an immovable object… He’s been impactful in stopping the run and allowing us to play alternative coverages that you can’t do sometimes when people can run the ball.”- Kirby Smart
And ESPN College Gameday Analyst David Pollack went as far as to say Davis is Heisman worthy.
“To me, I would have him in the Heisman discussion… the most dominant player that I’ve seen in College Football. You don’t move him, he anchors the line.”- David Pollack
With his size, you would probably think he would be a bit slow of foot. As a Nose Guard at Georgia, he was not often asked to run, but when he had to, he showed exceptional burst for a man of his size. Just watch here as he manages to beat an LSU RB to the edge, in order to slow him down just enough to allow someone else to eventually stop him.
He ended up running the second fastest 40 time at the Combine among Defensive Tackles. 4.78 seconds. From a 341 pound man. Id imagine being Rb and seeing him rushing at you that fast is like being in the path of a bulldozer at full speed.
Beyond his actual production, his biggest impact on the game are the double teams he demands. His simple presence, helped the rest of the Georgia Defense make plays because he consistently had to be double teamed on run downs. Its near impossible to block this man with just one blocker.
What He Needs To Work On
Jordan Davis is ready to step in right away and be an elite run stopper. The question is how will he fare as a pass rusher at the NFL level. And there are genuine concerns there. He is not an elite pass rusher. In fact he may not even be an average one. Georgia often took him off the field on pass downs, which is why Davis only averaged 23.6 snaps a game his final year at Georgia.
For reference, lets compare him to other level players at NT when they were in College. Some of the premier NTs in the game today are Vita Vea, Quinnen Williams, and Dexter Lawrence. Those 3 are all very good as run stoppers. But that is not all they do. In their final year in College, Vea had 41 QB Pressures, Williams had 56, and Lawrence had 36. Meanwhile Davis had only 14. These three guys are 3 down DTs, Davis is not that guy yet.
Could he improve as a pass rusher? Certainly. With his size, power, and agility, he certainly has the traits to be a better pass rusher. The point is he will not be that guy when he steps into the NFL. He will be a elite run stopper the moment he steps onto the field, but it may be at least a year before he can be effective on all 3 downs.
To his credit, it is something he knows he needs to work on. he said the following after winning the Chuck Bednarik Award at the Maxwell Awards.
“I did a lot of self-reflection and you know, I understand that’s one of my achillies heels but that’s what I worked on in the offseason and that’s what I’m getting better at. A lot of people think that it’s end-all-be-all at Georgia in that scheme but I’m putting the work in and doing my best to be a complete player and do all the necessary things to be in on pass rush too.”
A Team Player
It can sometimes be tough to be the guy whos contribution does not show up in the box score. And if you look at Jordan Davis, his stats don’t necessarily wow you. He impacts the game in other ways. And it takes some level of humility to accept that. Thankfully, Jordan Davis fully understands that, and is committed to being the team player his position requires him to be.
“I actually look at the linebacker stats because I know if the linebackers get a lot of tackles, that means I’m doing my job right. I always say two on me, somebody’s free. So usually when the linebackers make a tackle for loss, it’s usually dealing with something on the d-line.”- Jordan Davis
Ask any of his teammates, and they will tell you just how hard he works. Davis was vital to the success of the Georgia defense. There was tremendous pressure on him to live up to his potential, and he took the pressure seriously. This is why he worked overtime this past offseason on his conditioning. While he is a very big dude, people who work with him will tell you that weight isn’t fat, its mostly muscle. He is a high effort player, and it shows on the field.
Love the energy that Georgia DT Jordan Davis is playing with so far this year. This type of effort will win over teams in draft rooms. pic.twitter.com/lR9Ha8k6Ct— Jordan Reid (@Jordan_Reid) September 20, 2021
And the work ethic everyone praises him for, gives me hope he will be able to improve as a pass rusher. Because again, there is nothing about his traits as a player that say he shouldn’t be a good pass rusher. Right now it is a matter of technique on passing plays that holds him back. And with repeated reps and practice, you can learn technique. But it will require patience. And some teams will not be patient with a part-time player as a first-round pick.
What Draft Experts Say
Davis is an enormous defensive tackle prospect with surprising quickness and athleticism. As a pass rusher, he’s primarily a pocket-collapse player rather than a polished technician. He’s able to bend, latch on and walk opposing linemen right back to the quarterback. He flashes quick hands, and I believe he has upside to develop into more of a threat. He is at his best versus the run. He is immovable inside, locks out blocks and eliminates space for runners. He has outstanding block recognition, handles double teams and possesses surprising range. He makes plays down the field, which is incredible to see at his size. Not every team will value his skill set, but I think he can be a dominant force in the right scheme.
“Beefy, mountainous nose tackle with the size, power, and will to clog the drain and alter the offense’s desire to run between the tackles. Davis has anchor and quick-shed talent to eviscerate single blocks and successfully occupy double teams, allowing linebackers to thrive in pursuit of ball-carriers. He plays upright, lacking agility and reactive quickness to mark up a stat sheet with any consistency, but that’s not what he’s asked to do. Davis won’t be as effective against outside-zone teams and won’t offer much rush, but he could become one of the league’s best run-pluggers as soon as he takes the field.”
Jordan Davis can step right in and be genuinely elite at one aspect of the game, run defense. And for that alone, there is a temptation to pick him. But the question is, is it worth spending a high pick on someone who may be a part-time player? With how good he is at stuffing the run, he just may be worth it. You just have to hope he learns to rush the passer too.