It’s long been my stance that a true sideline-to-sideline linebacker was one of Washington’s top needs(along with QB and OT) heading into the 2021 NFL Draft. One message I kept repeating, on both hear and my Twitter, was scheme fit - mainly meaning that our linebacker should be a player who could seamlessly transition between MIKE and WILL in our 4-3 base with heavy NICKLE looks.
I was told by many that Notre Dame hybrid Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah could be the apple of Ron Rivera’s eye due to his versatility, but to me, he was not a true off-the-ball backer with MIKE/WILL versatility. I felt that Penn State linebacker Micha Parsons and Jamin Davis fit the mold best, but that the chances of Parsons falling to pick 19 were slim to none.
With Parsons off the board when our turn came up, it made too much sense to draft the player many compare to Darrius Leonard at pick 19.
So what is Washington getting in Jamin Davis?
First, you are getting a freak athlete at linebacker. Here are his numbers from Kentucky’s Pro Day:
Stop sleeping on Kentucky LB Jamin Davis pic.twitter.com/CnmP5dOewT— PFF Draft (@PFF_College) March 31, 2021
Second, he’s about as complete as they come, and a perfect fit for today’s NFL.
He can cover...
Jamin Davis runs stride for stride with the RB on the seam pic.twitter.com/1xbfb38Q5Z— Mark Tyler(Hogs Haven) (@Tiller56) April 9, 2021
...and he can come up and smack you in the mouth!
#IDP - New Washington linebacker, Jamin Davis' numbers from 2020:— Jon Macri (@PFF_Macri) April 30, 2021
7.0% missed tackle rate (2nd among SEC LBs)
Led all draft-eligible players in total tackles (109)
81.6 overall @PFF grade (1st among SEC LBs)
87.5 run defense grade (T-4th among P5 LBs)#FFIDP pic.twitter.com/bcJChOoIPA
Finally, Davis is still growing and has not come close to reaching his ceiling. After redshirting as a 6’3” 195 lanky young man, he played sparingly as a redshirted freshman; mainly seeing special teams duty. He broke into the rotation as a sophomore, but it wasn’t until his junior season that he really came into his own. At a chiseled 230 plus pounds, Davis posted 102 tackles, four for a loss, 1.5 sacks, a forced fumble and three interceptions - one of which he returned for a touchdown.
Davis’ Role as a Rookie
I see Davis slotting in as our WILL backer as a rookie, with the position flexibility to be able to kick to MIKE in certain looks as the offense dictates. As a true three-down backer, he can be used to cover the slot, drop hook/curl...buzz flats in zone, and rush the quarterback from the edge. I hope he is paired with Holcomb in nickel looks, getting our two best athletes at the linebacker position on the field together.
Eventually, Davis has the ability to take over the middle of the defense if the staff so desires, as he can play sideline-to-sideline, drop high-hole in zone, or carry a TE on the seam route.
Overall, I think this is the first time in a long time that Washington has a complete, every-down linebacker at it’s disposal. He should be an absolute beast behind what is arguably the best defensive line in the NFL.