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Deshaun Davis’ Football IQ, Physicality, and Leadership Can Solidify The Redskins ILB Unit

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Hogs Haven takes a look at 2019 NFL Draft prospects that could contribute to the Redskins

NCAA Football: SEC Championship-Georgia vs Auburn John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

Deshaun Davis, LB
School: Auburn | Conference: SEC
College Experience: RS Senior | Age: 23?
Height / Weight: 5-11 / 231 lbs
Projected Draft Status: 3rd Round
NFL Comparison: Avery Williamson

College Statistics

Player Overview

LSU was very interested in getting former 4-star recruit Deshaun Davis to play inside linebacker for them. Davis had interest from a lot of programs including LSU but the one that was on the top of his list was Auburn. So while Clemson, Kentucky, and Florida State were extending offers and trying to set up visits Davis was hoping that head coach Gus Malzahn would pick up the phone and call him. Malzahn did just that and Davis didn’t waste any time and committed to Auburn. Davis ended his Auburn career on a high note reaching several milestones statistically (over 100 tackles in a season and over 10 tackles for loss) and making a case the he belongs in the conversation with this year’s top prospects at the position. Davis is instinctive and has a high football IQ. There is a running joke that he actually calls the plays and the defensive coordinator just gets paid for it. Well there is some truth to that Davis has called plays and was responsible for getting all the guys in the right place pre snap. His teammates and coaches characterize him as a hard worker and great leader who has the potential to run a defense at the next level.

Strengths

  • Good size, physicality, strength, read and react ability and instincts for the position.
  • Davis stands out on film because of his ability to diagnose a play and work downhill towards the ball carrier to make a stop. He is full speed ahead and bangs and disrupts to get to the ball. He isn’t one of the top tier athletes at the position but he is going to run in the 4.6’s which is good enough to land him around the 75th percentile according to mockdraftable. He has enough quickness and speed to seal off rushing lanes and get into the backfield and also can make QBs uncomfortable.
  • He is a prolific, consistent, and reliable tackler. Once he gets his hands on the opposing player they go down. He used good technique to wrap up and has some legit power to his hits.
  • Praised for his cerebral abilities on the field and overall football IQ. Was given responsibilities at Auburn that didn’t just extend to himself but to the entire defense. Praised for his work ethic and leadership ability.

Weaknesses

  • Doesn’t have that top tier speed, flexibility or agility we see with some other prospects at the position. While he isn’t slow his change of direction skills are noticeably labored and stiff at times.
  • Dropped into coverage a good amount at Auburn and doesn’t excel in this area. Sure he can stick with a few tight ends but his technique and fluidity are going to make you want him play as close to the LOS as possible at the next level unless he can really make strides here.
  • Needs to learn how to use his hands to get off blocks better. Like his counterpart Devin White he prefers the brute force method instead of the strategic one. He would be a much more effective player.

Let’s see his work:

More Deshaun Davis videos

How He Would Fit On The Redskins

For anyone who has read my linebacker profiles for the past few years you might have noticed that I love guys like this. While lost of people prefer elite athletes at the position I think we can look at some of the best inside linebackers in the NFL and point out that most of then didn’t run sub 4.5s. I’ll take physicality, work ethic, instincts and read and react ability at the position any day of the week. That said I think Davis would be a nice compliment to Zach Brown or Reuben Foster as the TED in the 3-4 base. You still need strength and physicality at the position as a lot of times the TED helps clear the way for the more athletic MIKE. I think Davis could help the Redskins a lot on run defense and I would love to see him get a few opportunities to rush the passer as well. What I hope they don’t do is put him on Zack Ertz because that would be stupid. Davis needs to get better at his abilities in coverage but there are simply going to be some guys he can’t stick with, one of the best tight ends in the NFL is going to be one of them. I think Davis is a fringe day 1 starter for the Redskins who will have the luxury (perhaps) of learning for a year before he steps into a starting role.