As the 2022 NFL Draft gets closer, we take a look at Georgia interior defensive lineman Jordan Davis.
Name: Jordan Davis
Weight: 341 pounds
Combine Results: 4.78 40-yard dash, 32” vertical jump, 123” broad jump
The Cowboys haven’t drafted an interior defensive lineman in the first round since Russell Maryland was the first overall pick in the 1991 NFL Draft. They may have a chance to break that drought this year if Georgia stud Jordan Davis were still available at the 24th pick.
Shockingly, Davis almost never found football. He was a basketball player growing up, and didn’t turn to football until his sophomore year of high school. Once he did, he found success pretty quickly, and it was enough for Georgia to offer him despite being just a 3-star recruit.
Davis arrived in Athens and became an immediate contributor as a true freshman, mostly playing on early run downs. His role expanded to a key starter the next two years, becoming a core member of the Bulldogs defense. Davis surprised everyone by returning for his senior year, but it paid off with a national championship run. He followed that up with a jaw-dropping performance at the combine that has him set up perfectly to be the first man off the board at his position later this month.
Burst: Davis was said to have played his senior season around 350 pounds, which you have to factor in when talking about things like burst. That is to say that Davis has some exceptional get-off speed for his size. Texas A&M iDL DeMarvin Leal, for example, played with a better first step, but Leal weighs nearly 70 pounds less. Davis also led all interior defensive linemen in the broad jump and was second in the vertical jump at the combine after dropping some weight. His elite performance in those explosion drills suggest that Davis can get even better here if he keeps his weight around the 340 range.
Footwork: For someone who has been playing on a consistent basis in all four years of his college career, Davis has exactly the type of footwork you want to see. With his size, it’s harder to be precise in foot placements and movements, but Davis seems to have reached his ceiling here and moves very fluidly for his size.
Hand Technique: As you’d expect, a big part of Davis’ game revolves around power. That’s true with his hand technique, too. Davis seems to be playing with a pair of two-by-four’s attached to his shoulders, and he strikes offensive linemen with such violence and sheer power that it makes it hard to focus on anything else. When asked to two-gap, Davis is able to easily hold his position and just as easily disengage when it’s time to do so.
Pass Rush Moves: This is the biggest - and maybe only - weakness in Davis’ game. While his snap counts grew each year at Georgia, he was never an every-down player. Part of that is because of how deep the Bulldogs defense was, but it’s also because of how unrefined Davis is as a pass rusher. Davis is a master of the power rush moves, and his bull rush is especially effective, but he’s still very limited here. However, the athleticism and frame Davis has will be enough for some teams to bank on him growing into a better pass rusher with a little bit of work.
Lateral Agility: Davis moves really well in this area. No “for his size” qualifiers are necessary here, as Davis is just plain good at moving laterally along the line of scrimmage. This makes him an elite asset in run defense, and also opens up some potential for stunts as a pass rusher, something he didn’t get much exposure with at Georgia due to their scheme tendencies.
Athleticism: Simply put, Davis is an elite athlete. He was the only interior defensive lineman, and one of just four players at any position, to score a perfect 10 relative athletic score at the combine this year. Davis weighed in as the heaviest player at the entire combine and still finished either first or second in every drill he participated in. The tape reflects this too, as Davis moves in ways he shouldn’t be able to. It’s why so many teams will be willing to overlook his pass rush weaknesses.
Run Defense: Davis excels as a run defender. This past year, there was no better run defender in the country, and Davis has been at that level for a while now already. Davis has wins in run support whether he’s one-gapping or two-gapping and from any alignment. With his blend of size, strength, and athleticism, Davis’ run defense should translate right away to the NFL, making him one of the better run defenders in the league in no time.
Jordan Davis' 85.9 Run Defense Grade over the last two seasons leads the SEC pic.twitter.com/SA22Qjerad— PFF Draft (@PFF_College) March 13, 2022
Processing: Davis’ game became more heady each season, and by now he’s a master of being able to read the play based on offensive line movements and react to it. Davis’ high football IQ is another reason why many are comfortable trusting him to develop a better pass rush repertoire with more targeted coaching at the next level.
Intangibles: Davis was a prominent voice in the locker room at Georgia, especially during their national title run. His decision to return for his senior year despite likely being the top pick at his position had he declared last year helped galvanize his teammates. Davis is a relentless tone-setter on the field, a major development for him after having had issues with his effort his first two years in Athens.
Players like Davis don’t come around that often. For a guy to weigh in at 341 pounds and then test the way he did is unprecedented. It’s garnered a lot of comparisons to Vita Vea, who’s gone on to dominate with the Buccaneers. Vea was a more polished pass rusher coming out, but that’s an otherwise fair expectation for Davis based on what he showed in college.
Were the Cowboys to select him at 24 - an already improbable notion given that Davis could and should come off the board sooner - Davis would become an immediate difference-maker on Dan Quinn’s defense. Neville Gallimore, Osa Odighizuwa, and Trysten Hill all showed promise last year as rotational pass rushers, but Davis would offer something they can’t: a space-eating black hole that can eat up the run and collapse the pocket. Davis’ catchphrase at Georgia - “If there’s two on me, somebody is free” - would ring even more true in Dallas, opening up bigger holes for DeMarcus Lawrence, Micah Parsons, Dante Fowler, and others to run through.
The question, of course, is what every team will be asking: is it a wise allocation of assets to take a huge interior defensive lineman whose biggest weakness is rushing the passer? The Cowboys have already shown a general disdain for spending premium draft picks at this position, but they seem very interested in Davis. Jerry Jones effectively said the team will be taking an offensive lineman at 24 unless there’s another Micah Parsons or CeeDee Lamb. So is Davis that kind of player? Every team’s answer will be different, but I would say yes, unequivocally so.