Detroit Lions: Addition of Jarrad Davis provides draft flexibility

Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports
Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports /

The Detroit Lions recently brought back Jarrad Davis, a former first-round selection.

Davis was selected by the Detroit Lions out of Florida back in 2017 with the 21st overall pick. Although he never lived up to his draft potential, Davis remains a very intriguing hyper-athletic linebacker who simply hasn’t been able to put it all together.

Head coach Dan Campbell recently mentioned that he hoped the organization could re-sign Davis ahead of last season, but he elected to join defensive-minded first-time head coach Robert Saleh in New York with the Jets signing a one-year deal worth $5.5 million.

Unfortunately, things didn’t go as planned for the 27-year old outside linebacker in New York.  According to Pro Football Focus (PFF), Davis earned a career-worst 28.6 overall grade for his work in 2021.  That is simply atrocious.  As Lions fans know, Davis is a liability in coverage but proved to be useful time and time again as a rusher.

Davis has not only struggled in coverage throughout his career but he’s also had a tough time getting the ball-carrier or quarterback to the ground upon initial contact.  In his final season with the Lions, Davis had nearly a 19% missed tackle rate, and last season with the Jets, it was the same old song and dance missing on over 17% of his opportunities.

Last season Davis totaled 24 tackles, missed five, and created just one pressure over a career-low 209 defensive snaps.

When teams draft linebackers, any player at any position for that matter, in the first round of the draft, they expect not only impact players but also an every-down contributor.  At this point, it’s become evident that Davis is not an every-down linebacker, but if appropriately utilized in Aaron Glenn’s scheme, he can be a valuable asset.

I expect the Detroit Lions to use Jarrad Davis as a pass-rush blitz specialist in 2022.

Quickly following the signing of Davis, I recalled something Erik Schlitt of Pride Of Detroit mentioned about NFL Draft prospect Damone Clark.  The LSU product will undergo spinal fusion surgery and will miss his entire rookie season.  Schlitt suggested that Detroit should consider drafting Clark even though he’d miss the entire season.

It makes complete sense.  The Detroit Lions are in no position to make a serious postseason run. They are continuing to rebuild. They’d be getting a second-round talent in possibly the fourth or fifth round due to his health and availability in year one.

Detroit doesn’t currently have a fourth-round selection, but they have a compensatory selection at the end of round three; plus, if Brad Holmes deemed it too risky to wait until the fifth round to pick Clark, he could pair a couple of late-round selections and trade up into the fourth-round and make the selection.

I like the idea.

The addition of Davis, who reunites with his college teammate Alex Anzalone and second-year man Derrick Barnes, allows the Detroit Lions to be a bit more patient in the 2022 NFL Draft.

I had felt the Lions needed to prioritize the linebacker position by selecting a prospect at the position with one of their first five selections. Still, by bringing back Davis and Anzalone, Holmes can be patient and address other needs, and hopefully add Clark later in the draft.

There are plenty of highly regarded linebackers entering the draft, so if Holmes feels the injury to Clark is too risky, they may still elect to bolster the position by using one of their premium picks on a linebacker.

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A few players to keep an eye on are Nakobe Dean, Devin Lloyd, Christian Harris, Quay Walker, Chad Muma, Darrian Beavers, and Channing Tindall.