Detroit Lions News: What’s next for linebacker Jarrad Davis?

(Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
(Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images) /

After the Detroit Lions decided to forgo starting middle linebacker Jarrad Davis’ fifth-year team option, will the former first-round pick have a future in Detroit beyond next season?

When I think of middle linebacker Jarrad Davis, the first thought that comes to mind is ‘bust.’  It’s a word many consider to be extreme, overused, and perhaps in some cases simply not true.  When it comes to the Detroit Lions former first-round pick, his on-field play hasn’t lived up to his first-round draft position.

You can do this with any draft, but looking at who went in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft after Detroit selected Davis will make your stomach churn.  Tight end Evan Engram was picked 23rd by the Giants, the Bills selected Tre’Davious White 27th overall, the Steelers picked T.J. Watt 30th, and standout right tackle Ryan Ramczyk was taken by New Orleans Saints 32nd overall.

General Manager (GM) Bob Quinn and the Detroit Lions selected Davis with the 21st overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft.  The second thing that comes to mind when I think of Davis is his inability to finish tackles in the open field.  How many times can you remember Davis slashing through the line of scrimmage, having a quarterback or ball carrier in his grasp only to see the play extended for a significant gain due to a missed tackle?  Much too often, right?

More from Detroit Jock City

Along with the missed tackles, Davis struggled mightily in coverage.  Davis has proven to be a tremendous athlete, but in today’s NFL, running backs add such a dynamic threat catching the football out of the backfield.  Perhaps if Davis performed better tackling in the open field, his lack of coverage abilities wouldn’t be as magnified.

Missed tackles won’t prevent the catch, but limiting the play to four or five yards rather than having a five-yard catch turn into a 10-yard gallop after the catch would drastically help the Detroit defense.  Last season Davis was targeted 34 times in the passing game; he allowed 26 receptions that averaged a whopping 15.3 yards per catch. Yikes.

According to Pro Football Focus (PFF), Davis produced a dreadful 40.4 overall grade.  His coverage mark was even worse, coming in at 32.6 overall.  One thing that stands out is his above-average 72.8 pass rush mark rewarded to Davis by PFF.

I’ve mentioned in the past that perhaps Davis should be experimented with as an edge rusher now that the Detroit Lions have a surging second-year linebacker in Jahlani Tavai, who can play both inside or out if needed along with Reggie Ragland.

Davis isn’t the prototypical Matt Patricia middle linebacker.  Davis is a lean, athletic sideline-to-sideline type backer rather than the large-framed, space eater like Dont’a Hightower at 260-pounds.  Perhaps sliding Davis outside will do a world of good.

Detroit will start veteran Jamie Collins as one outside linebacker, and rookie Julian Okwara as the other edge rusher.  I’d love to see the Lions rotate Davis with Okwara and Christian Jones opposite Collins to see if the rotation can create a much-needed consistent pass rush.  Davis was rewarded with 12 hurries last season after recording an impressive 30 hurries in 2018.

Next. Top 3 match-ups to look forward to in 2020. dark

If Davis can find a role as a pass-rusher, he’s versatility being able to play as a depth inside linebacker and blitzing edge rusher should earn him a second contract with the Detroit Lions.