Detroit Lions: What can we expect from Jarrad Davis year one?
With the expectations of a first round selection on his shoulders, what can Detroit Lions’ fans expect production-wise from rookie middle linebacker Jarrad Davis in year one?
With their first pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, the Detroit Lions decided to address the heart of their defense, selecting Florida linebacker Jarrad Davis 21st overall. The 21-year old posted 60 total tackles, 6.0 tackles for a loss, four pass defends and 2.0 sacks in nine games for the Gators his senior season.
Davis is slated to start at middle linebacker for the Lions this season, taking the place of veteran Tahir Whitehead who posted a career-high 132 tackles in that very spot in 2016. Whitehead is expected to move to weakside to accommodate the first rounder.
Based on what Whitehead was able to accomplish last season from the starting middle linebacker role, Davis certainly has the opportunity to produce 100+ tackles from the position. But what does recent history tell us about first round rookie linebackers and their numbers in year one?
Looking to the 2016 NFL Draft, the closest comparison to be made to Davis simply considering pick location is Ohio State linebacker Darron Lee, who was selected 20th overall by the New York Jets. An ankle injury limited Lee to 13 games and nine starts his rookie season. The 22-year old recorded 73 total tackles, three pass defends and a sack in 2016.
But a better predictor for Davis’ possible production his rookie season in Detroit might be Atlanta Falcons’ linebacker Deion Jones. Selected in the the second round of the 2016 NFL Draft, 52nd overall, Jones was deemed the starter at middle linebacker from Week One.
The 22-year old started in 13 of his 15 games last year, helping the Falcons reach the Super Bowl. Jones also started in all three of Atlanta’s postseason contests, including the championship matchup with the New England Patriots. In fact, the rookie recorded nine tackles, a pass defend and forced a fumble in the big game.
Jones led all NFL rookies in tackles last season with a total of 108. He also posted 14 pass defends, three interceptions, two defensive touchdowns and a forced fumble during his first regular season.
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With Jarrad Davis expected to get the starting nod from the get-go in Detroit this season, I believe fans can expect something close to what he recorded his junior year at Florida. That season Davis posted a whopping 94 total tackles, 11.0 tackles for a loss, 3.5 sacks, four pass defends, an interception and a forced fumble in 14 games.