The Detroit Lions’ Jarrad Davis could become the leader and backbone of the defense while cementing himself as a top linebacker in the league in 2019.
The Detroit Lions‘ former first-round pick, Jarrad Davis, has not yet lived up to his draft status quite yet. However, after looking much improved from his rookie season to last year, there seems to be some excitement surrounding him and the steps he could take this year.
His rookie season Davis was abysmal in coverage and didn’t look that great overall despite being taken in the top half of the draft. He was constantly displaced when covering a receiver and would often miss assignments and/or be too aggressive in his pursuit of the ball carrier causing him to go flying right by. Despite those issues he still finished with 96 solo tackles, 31 assists, and four tackles for loss, giving hope to those who believed he could be a strength in the middle of our defense.
In 2018 he seemed to deliver on that promise as he did improve in both coverage and tackling. While he wasn’t an elite coverage linebacker he was no longer the absolute liability in coverage he was the year before. Last year he was able to defend five passes and racked up 100 total tackles, 73 of which were solo and 10 of which were for a loss. He also showed he was a much better pass rusher as he totaled six sacks and 10 quarterback hits (both doubling his rookie year pass rushing production).
This offseason the Lions drafted a linebacker in the second round and have shown they are wanting to become bigger at the position. Apparently, Davis has taken this to heart.
The Detroit News’ Justin Rogers reported that Davis “came into this year’s offseason program noticeably bigger” and that he appeared to be carrying the extra weight well. Detroit Lions linebacker coach Al Golden said the following about Davis:
"“To be honest with you, he challenged himself to do that, and he is bigger now, Right now, he’s bigger than he was at any point in his career and he’s holding it really well. I couldn’t believe when he walked in from the offseason. He had a great offseason. He’s really excited about the challenge to grow as a leader.”"
Hearing that Davis is ready to step up and become a leader is a very good thing to hear. After losing the backbone and veteran leader of the defense in safety Glover Quin, new leaders will have to step up. With current veteran stars Damon Harrison and Darius Slay currently missing from OTAs (many thought one or both of these two could become more vocal leaders), it is on Davis to step up and become the leader and backbone of the defense.
Davis has shown he has the ability to perform on the field. And with another offseason under head coach Matt Patricia’s guidance, Davis could very well become one of the better on-field linebackers in the NFL. What will be interesting to see is if he also takes a leap in the leadership department and it seems he could as both his development, coaches, and situations seem to demand he becomes a better leader.
Davis has the talent and drive to be a top NFL linebacker and leader of this defense. If he continues to develop and mature a 120+ tackle season and 10+ sack season (the Lions are looking to use him as a pass rusher more as well) is not out of reach for the Lions’ defender. I expect big things from Davis on and off the field this year in Detroit.