‘Bullish’ On The Bulldog
NFLN's Draft Guru Jeremiah Still Confident On Jordan Davis
Defensive line is one of the most fluid areas for the Eagles as free agency nears.
The Eagles have several linemen poised to hit the open market in March and face critical decisions on how to maintain their strength up front after a record-setting 2022 season of 70 sacks.
Veteran edge defender Brandon Graham, who registered a career-best 11 sacks at 34 years old and coming off an Achilles injury, will have his contract expire if the Eagles don’t reach an agreement with him before the start of the new league year.
The same can be said for defensive tackles Javon Hargrave and Fletcher Cox, with Hargrave also toting 11 sacks and the 32-year-old Cox accounting for seven more, along with veteran mid-season additions Linval Joseph and Ndamukong Suh.
Regardless of how the Eagles reshape or replenish the defensive line, they’ll need more from 2023 first-round pick Jordan Davis, who played sparingly as a rookie and battled a high-ankle sprain that sidelined him for three weeks in November.
Davis, whom the Eagles traded up a few spots to take 14th overall, finished with 18 tackles, no sacks and played less than 250 snaps this season, just 26 percent of the total defense.
In the Super Bowl, he played just 10 snaps.
Despite Davis’ sluggish rookie season, he still has the confidence of NFL Network’s draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah, who said Friday in a pre-NFL Scouting Combine media session on Zoom that he’s still “bullish” on the former Georgia lineman’s potential.
“Well, I think he went from a team with a crap ton of talent in college and went to a team in the NFL with a crap ton of talent, so they rolled all those guys through,” Jeremiah said. “They kind of divvied up those reps.
Maybe that’s why you didn’t see as much pop or as much production from him. But, I mean, golly, they have such a deep group there, and it’s one of the reasons why they went to the Super Bowl.
“I’m still bullish on him. I think he is going to be really, really good. Obviously I think he is still learning how to use what’s in his body. It’s all there. He has all the ability in the world. I think he just needs to play. He gets out there and play more. I think you’ll see that start to emerge.”
One issue is that Davis didn’t even play much at Georgia, where he belonged to an ultra-deep defensive line that fueled the team’s first of back-to-back national championships. Two of his linemates, Travon Walker and Devonte Wyatt, were also first-round picks.
Davis, an athletic freak who clocked a 4.78 in the 40-yard dash at last year’s NFL Scouting Combine despite playing at more than 350 pounds, has otherwordly power and athleticism but struggled at the pro level with technique and leverage, especially when on the field for several snaps in succession.
Even when he returned from a three-game absence from the high-ankle sprain, Davis had lost his spot as the top nose tackle in the team’s odd front to the veteran Joseph, who didn’t sign until November.
There were times when Davis made some splash plays and his freakish strength and athleticism went on full display, but just not very often.
“It was somewhat like that in college where you’ll see flashes, and then kind of, OK, where did it go?” recalled Jeremiah, a former Eagles area scout who last year ranked Davis among his top 15 overall prospects. “ With guys like that and defensive linemen, it’s not always instantaneous either. It’s a different game.
“Even when you are in the SEC, as great as that conference is, it’s different when you are playing against grown men every week, and I think you’ll see him grow and continue to develop. I mean, you see it every year. Look at Quinnen Williams early in his career – and he just gets better and better and better and better. I think you’ll see Jordan Davis be a better football player next year.”
– Geoff Mosher (@geoffmoshernfl) is co-host of the “Inside the Birds” podcast and staff writer for InsideTheBirds.com.
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