A Look At Linebacker Jarrad Davis‘s Performance In 2017 And Future Outlook In Detroit.
In the 1st round of the 2017 NFL Draft, general manager of the Detroit Lions Bob Quinn selected Jarrad Davis to be their new middle linebacker and leader of their defense. With Davis’ football IQ so readily on display at Florida, it was not surprising to many to see the Lions give him play-calling responsibilities early in the 2017 season. However, it became clear after a couple of weeks that while Davis has quite a lot going for him, the Lions had him in over his head with responsibility.
As the season went on, the Lions took this load off Davis’s shoulders to help him not think as much, and just go out and play. They also helped ease his physical and mental fatigue, by giving him breaks on third downs. While Davis’s long-term projection is that of a 3-down linebacker, his coverage skills were so poor in 2017, it was necessary to take him off on 3rd down.
However, a large part of this could be coaching. Outside of his first season in Detroit, former defensive coordinator Teryl Austin had a bad track record with developing coverage skills in his linebackers. Since linebackers Deandre Levy and Stephen Tulloch were no longer on the team, the Lions have yet to have any improvement to their porous pass coverage in their linebackers.
Which could help explain why two linebackers who excelled in coverage in Davis and teammate Jalen Reeves-Maybin, suddenly became poor at it in 2017. Though, a good portion of that is learning as a rookie.
Jarrad Davis’s Future Has Plenty Of Room For Optimism
Davis offers plenty to be excited about for 2018. His raw athletic ability is exactly what you want to mold in a young leader for your defense. Having a new head coach like Matt Patricia will be a huge blessing to Davis and the rest of the linebacker crew. Patricia has made a living off getting the most out of his front seven players and scheming to their strengths, as well as away from their weaknesses.
Not only does Davis offer great athletic ability to the new staff, but he also brings great leadership qualities, a very tough and physical nature to his game, as well as a high football IQ. Davis said he spent some time watching Patriots middle linebacker Dont’a Hightower and how he played in Patricia’s defense in the past in New England. This is incredibly encouraging to see with Davis and with all signs pointing up, he could put up a monster performance for Detroit in 2018.