Jordan Davis is expected to have a big impact on the Eagles’ defense this season as an interior presence who makes things easier for others to do their jobs.
Elevating talent around him is nothing new for Davis, who was already known for doing exactly that in college at Georgia where his ability to tie up multiple blockers opened up avenues for another new Eagle, third-round linebacker Nakobe Dean, to make the kind of splash plays that win you the Butkus Award on the national champions.
The Philadelphia brass is excited about Davis for obvious reasons and it starts with his floor as a prospect, which is projected to be a dominant two-down run-stuffer.
According to veteran talent evaluator Chris Landry, however, the key to the Davis pick for the Eagles and whether it was worth a targeted move up from No. 15 to 13 on Day 1 of the draft back in April will be the Charlotte native’s development as a pass-rusher.
“Jordan Davis is an intriguing player,” Landry, a former scout in Cleveland and Houston/Tennessee, told JAKIB Sports. “He is a big powerful, underrated athletic guy but the key here is is he going to be a great three-down player or a great two-down player?”
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In Landry’s mind, trading Nos. 15, 124, 162, and 166 to move up two spots will be judged by where Davis reaches in the floor vs. ceiling equation.
“If he’s not a great three-down player then it probably wasn’t worth what they did,” Landry, who currently does consulting work for multiple NFL teams, said. “… The guy was really good for how they used [him]. [Georgia was] a build a wall in front [defense].”
Moving up a level Davis is going to have to improve his conditioning to handle more reps while maintaining the efficacy to tie up multiple blockers, not only so the run support can prosper but also for the Eagles’ marquee pass rushers, a group expected to be headlined by Hasson Reddick, Josh Sweat, Javon Hargrave and perhaps Fletcher Cox and Brandon Graham, have an easier time getting loose.
“He’s going to have to keep his weight in check,” Landry said of Davis. “He has athletic traits that would indicate he can push the pocket and rush a little bit better from the interior than he was asked to do in college.”
Davis, though, is never going to be a player you should be judging by sack totals, something which might be difficult for the Philadelphia fan base which often demands them.
“It’s not about how many sacks,” Landry said. “It’s about how many pressures and how many double teams does [Davis] take up on third downs so I mean if he gets two sacks all year and you got other guys, because he’s occupying guys, or other guys are getting free and everybody else is a better pass rusher you’re getting the impact on third down.”
“If he’s off the field on third down you’re not getting the complete value out of trading up,” Landry surmised. “… you win on third downs in this league.”
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for JAKIB Sports.