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Though Jim McElwain is leading the Gator chomp now, the fingerprints of former defensive guru Will Muschamp remain all over Florida's roster with virtually all of the team's top NFL prospects over the past few seasons playing on that side of the ball, including Davis, an oft-injured but highly instinctive, athletic and passionate linebacker.
Though scouts love his tenacity and versatility, the risk/reward factor with Davis is higher than most linebackers. Undersized by some standards, Davis has shown a troubling tendency to get nicked up, missing multiple games over his career due to injury, including three games due to a hurt ankle as a senior and most of the 2014 season with a torn meniscus.
Despite the limiting playing time in 2016, Davis finished second on the team with 60 tackles, including six for loss and two sacks, earning Second Team All-SEC honors from conference coaches. Frankly, he might have earned a higher grade had he entered the draft a year ago, following a career-high 98 tackle campaign including 11 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks.
STRENGTHS: Davis possesses a compact, powerful frame well-suited to linebacker. He shows terrific football intelligence, quickly locating the ball and anticipating where it is going. Davis anticipates the snap well as a blitzer, timing his rush to split gaps in the line of scrimmage to rack up tackles for loss. Davis has the agility to slip past would-be blockers and his naturally low center of gravity and core strength help him quickly disengage when opponents do reach him. Davis plays with an Energizer bunny's motor, frequently chasing down ball-carriers from behind. When he sets his eyes on a target, Davis generates impressive closing speed which results in explosive collisions. He is alert in coverage, anticipating routes and slapping at the ball as it arrives to break up passes. He possesses the speed and agility to handle outside duties, as well as the compact frame and spatial awareness to slide inside, if needed.
WEAKNESSES: The "biggest" issue, of course, is that Davis lacks ideal size and durability questions must be addressed with a full, healthy 2016 campaign. There are also questions about his best fit from a schematic perspective. Florida's stout defensive line allowed him to essentially roam the field and pursue the ball without fighting off blocks. Davis can make the "wow" play but too often he is reckless when attempting to tackle ball-carriers in space, failing to break down sufficiently to deliver the sure hit and tackle.
IN OUR VIEW: Davis will provide his future NFL defensive coordinator with options as he possesses the speed and agility of a traditional 4-3 outside linebacker, as well as the instincts and toughness to handle inside duties.
COMPARES TO: Philip Wheeler, Atlanta Falcons: Sporting a similar blend of size, physicality and versatility as Davis, Wheeler has carved out an impressive NFL career. Both are instinctive, gritty defenders who can play a variety of roles.
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