John Barker is a new writer for TJB, in this post, he explores whether or not the Jets just found their new best thing in linebacker Demario Davis. Please welcome John and enjoy!
Demario Davis is fast. He’s a leader. The guy, best I can tell, has Hall of Fame mannerisms and a personality that shines brighter than the sun and he’ll probably be starting at inside linebacker by game three. Or, you know, maybe not.
The comparisons have been made: Bart Scott, Ray Lewis, Singletary and Lambert. I think I just made those last two up, but you get the point. Boy, there is a lot of Ray Lewis in him, Rex Ryan will tell you. SNY’s own Ray Lucas says that Davis will get playing time “because he’s faster than Coples”. Um, okay. My counter to Lucas’ argument: Coples will get playing time because he’s faster than Sione Pouha. And, not to be outdone, Adam Schein makes the case that Davis will be starting in place of Scott by October because the Jets have looked at the game tape of last year and know that Scott didn’t play well. Hmm, Scott was once again very productive on a per snap basis last year, producing, according to PFF, a grade of +18 despite reduced playing time. This coming on the heels of a season in which PFF ranked Scott as the second best inside/middle linebacker in all of football between 2008 and 2010, behind only Patrick Willis. Ahead of Ray Lewis. The death of Mr. Scott’s career, as you might guess, has been greatly exaggerated.
So, hyperbole aside, what do we know about Demario Davis? He’s fast (timed at a quick 4.61 at the combine and a blazing 4.52 at his pro day). Fast enough, in fact, that he played mostly wide receiver in high school. Not having access to the rest of the league’s 40 times, I feel extremely confident saying that he’s faster not only than the average NFL inside ‘backer, but also than the average NFL tight end. A good start.
Davis is also light, even for an inside linebacker. At the combine, he tipped the scales at just 235. David Harris played last season at 250, and Bart Scott, although promising a sleeker 2012 version, was in the mid-240’s. Ray Lewis is 250. Patrick Willis is listed at only 240. So Davis is a bit of a tweener, perhaps, but nothing an NFL caliber weight and conditioning program shouldn’t cure.
We also know that Davis typically lined up at outside linebacker in college, so he’ll not only be learning a new position, but he has very limited coverage experience. The New York Times recently said that the Jets drafted Davis in large part due to “his experience covering tight ends”. Perhaps they meant to say his “potential” to cover tight ends.
Davis played his college ball at Arkansas State of the Sun Belt conference. And the Red Wolves had a pretty good year last year. To hear his former coach tell it, Davis was instrumental in their turn around, an inspiration to all. He led through example, through his words, he nourished the sick and brought smiles to the lonely and was voted most likely to win a lead role on Dancing with the Stars.
So…we just drafted a sideline-to-sideline speed freak who will be making more pre-game ‘we must protect this house!’ speeches than Tebow? Cool. What does it all add up to?
I couldn’t tell you. Objectively, I can only point to his measurables, his stats. His line last year? 69 tackles, 10 TFL, 3 sacks and 1 interception. While playing in the Sun Belt. His junior year was measurably worse (63/3.5/1 and 2). It doesn’t exactly speak to a man that will, while simultaneously learning an NFL playbook and a new position, promptly unseat one of the better NFL linebackers of the last five years, does it? For now, the position is Bart’s. I bet he can’t wait for training camp.