Tony Pauline of Pro Football Network agrees that Davis’ best fit is on the weak side of a 4-3 scheme, although he to thinks that playing inside is a possibility.
“If he can keep honing the mental side of his game, his coverage upside makes him a nice fit as a WILL linebacker in a 4-3 scheme,” Pauline said. “In that alignment, teams like the Washington Football Team, Detroit Lions, Kansas City Chiefs, and New York Jets, make sense as potential fits. While there is an ideal fit for Davis, his athletic upside does give him some flexibility. He’d also make sense in a 3-4 scheme as an inside linebacker, where he’d be able to provide more versatility as an extra pass rusher. The potential is great with the Kentucky linebacker, which is why he’s all of a sudden in the Round 1 conversation. Teams always want to acquire the most moldable clay, and it doesn’t get much more moldable than Davis.”
That Round 1 buzz that Pauline mentioned is legit. In his final mock draft of 2021, Peter King of NBC Sports slotted Davis to the Green Bay Packers at No. 29.
“Davis is perhaps the fastest-rising defensive player in the crop over the last three months,” King said. “After starting only 11 games at Kentucky, NFL teams studying his tape found the rangy sideline-to-sideline playmaker they’re valuing in linebackers these days. “Very instinctive for a guy who hasn’t played much,” one GM said. If the Packers zero in on linebackers, they may like Zaven Collins of Tulsa, but those I spoke to like Davis more.”
Davis didn’t even make it that far in the mock draft from Scott Jennings of SB Nation, who had him coming off the board 19th overall to the Washington Football Team.
“This pick comes down to three linebackers who could all help Washington solidify their defense,” he said. “Jamin Davis has been one the fastest-rising defensive players in this draft. He has the size and speed to take over the middle of the defense. With Jack Del Rio running the defense, he will quickly be molded into a key piece behind one of the best defensive lines in the NFL.”
Washington and Green Bay are both best-case landing spots for a high-end off-ball linebacker prospect like Davis—teams with a glaring need at the position where there’s a relatively clear path to a three-down role. If Davis hits that proverbial lottery, he’ll be right at the top of this year’s rookie IDP rankings. And he has the talent to take full advantage of that favorable landing spot and potentially finish his first NFL season as the highest-scoring rookie linebacker in fantasy football.
But after just one year as a starter in Lexington, there could be a considerable learning curve for Davis at the professional level, so even if he does land in a favorable spot an every-down role in the early-going isn’t guaranteed.
Davis has plenty of talent—talent that equates to more than a little IDP upside. And we’ll have a better idea of where he stacks up against Micah Parsons and the other top off-ball linebacker prospects in a few days once the dust settles in Cleveland.
But Jeremiah’s comment aside, don’t go penciling in Davis as the next Darius Leonard just yet.