Detroit Lions 2017 First Round Pick Jarrad Davis Looked Good At Times But Continues To Struggle In Coverage.
Jarrad Davis certainly had some highs and some lows in his second preseason game of the year.
Let’s start with the positives.
Jarrad Davis looks really good in run defense. He looked pretty good in run defense last year, but he looks even better so far this year. Jarrad Davis looks quicker to make his reads and more comfortable with his decision making against the run.
He had a couple of really nice plays in run defense including an early stop on third down. Those are the plays that you want to see out of your high draft picks at the linebacker positions.
If stopping the run was all that Matt Patricia and the Detroit Lions were asking from Jarrad Davis, there would be nothing but optimism for his future. Unfortunately for Jarrad Davis, the Detroit Lions, and fans, stopping the run is not all that there is to being a linebacker in the NFL. With the passing game becoming more and more important with each year, the ability to cover tight ends and running backs is becoming increasingly important for linebackers.
“Important” doesn’t even do it justice. Coverage ability for linebackers is becoming vital. Without the ability to stick with running backs and tight ends in the passing game, linebackers become situational players. That isn’t what you are looking for out of last year’s first round draft pick.
Unfortunately, Jarrad Davis has shown very little in the way of progress in coverage. He had a nice pass breakup early in the game, but he was absolutely torched by Wayne Gallman for a redzone touchdown on an angle route. Those are the type of plays that are absolutely inexcusable if they happen frequently enough.
It’s still preseason, so it is too early to assume that these plays will continue to happen with regularity, but it is certainly concerning that this is exactly what the concern with Jarrad Davis was entering this season. The fact that this type of play is showing up so early lead to the justified questioning of his development of Jarrad Davis in this particular area.
The problem becomes that, if Jarrad Davis has not properly developed in coverage, one of two things can happen:
First, he has to be subbed out on passing downs and becomes a situational linebacker. Again, this is not the developmental trajectory you hope for out of a first round pick.
Second, Jarrad Davis is an every down linebacker that struggles in pass defense. This is the less desirable of the two options. It means that teams can frequently exploit his weaknesses with running backs and tight ends.
My fingers are crossed that Jarrad Davis simply had a few bad reps in his first two preseason games and comes out and shows that he has indeed improved in coverage and is ready to excel in a full time role for the Detroit Lions in 2018.
I’m not pressing the panic button on Jarrad Davis after a single season and two preseason games, but I am certainly recognizing that he has consistently struggled in coverage and needs to show significant improvement over the course of this season.