After the bevvy of linebackers that the Detroit Lions acquired in free agency, former first round pick Jarrad Davis may see his role change in the defense.
The Detroit Lions have had a lot of polarizing first round, with more than a few of them leaving the team after a few years, never reaching their lofty expectations, and more often than not both. Middle linebacker Jarrad Davis will always be synonymous with the Bob Quinn regime because he was one of Quinn’s first non-lineman early round pick for the Lions.
While Davis has proven to be one of the most athletic linebackers in the league and would make a great WWE wrestler based on his tackling technique, Davis’ lackluster decision making and inability to cover speedy ball carriers in pass coverage have given him a sub-par grade on Pro Football Focus.
Despite Davis’ innate ability to make highlight tackles and exciting sacks, he struggles to do the little things well and mismanages more than not when it comes to leading an NFL defense. He is not the only Lions linebackers with flaws that are too big to ignore, which is partially why the Lions acquired some talented linebackers over free agency in Jamie Collins, Reggie Ragland and Elijah Lee.
The acquisition of these three linebackers, two of which were key role players in recent Super Bowl runs, takes what was quite possibly the weakest unit on the Detroit Lions and injects it with poise, veteran leadership, and some sneaky good PFF grades.
With the addition of these three into the linebacker room and rookie Jahlani Tavai stepping up at the middle linebacker spot while Davis was injured, the former Florida Gator may have seen his days as a middle linebacker come to an end.
But this influx of new linebackers may be the best thing to happen to Davis’ professional career. Not only can he learn some techniques from these savvy veterans, but he can play the role that he was meant to play as a EDGE rusher who specializes in hunting quarterbacks.
Over the last few years, the Lions didn’t have the luxury of telling Davis to simply put his head down, pin his ears back and take the quarterback to the ground because he had to play a leadership role with the Lions defense.
There is evidence that this isn’t a complete by the Lions, as they clearing support Davis by publicly shutting down trade rumors. And it shows a lot about his character that head coach Matt Patricia turned to him first to help with the pairing of Empowerment Plan to make surgical for those fighting COVID-19 on the front lines.
Here’s what Patricia said about Davis and his teammates via the Detroit News recently.
"“[Davis is] so great with all that stuff and he’s very generous. JD is spearheading this with the players, getting the information out. He’s really stepped up, from that standpoint. I love their unselfishness. I love when there’s a call to arms, these guys always come through to help in tough times. Obviously, this is a tough time.”"
Davis is going to the right thing when it comes to helping his country and helping his football, as he has the full support of Davis. Early first round picks who flame out in the league simply don’t have as high character as Davis does, so he can’t be written off as a solid NFL linebacker.
All that said, this may be Jarrad Davis’ last chance to prove himself with the Detroit Lions, as he is in a contract year and will be a restricted free agent after the 2020 season. This may very well be his last chance to succeed with the Detroit Lions, but this couldn’t be a better situation to allow Davis to succeed.