Draft season is right around the corner, and each team is starting to figure out who they’ll be drafting in late April. For the Oakland Raiders, there are a few options. A trendy one is Stanford rusher, Christian McCaffrey. However, as explosive as McCaffrey is, Florida’s Jarrad Davis is someone that could make a super difference.
The Oakland Raiders Should Draft Jarrad Davis
Inside linebacker has been a serious issue for the Raiders over the last several years. They’re notorious for struggling against the run and covering tight ends. With a myriad of pass rushers set to be on the team next season, the Raiders need someone like Jarrad Davis to provide between the rushers.
The majority of Oakland’s linebacking corps from last season is set to hit free agency. Malcolm Smith, Perry Riley, and Daren Bates are all about to become free agents. Riley had moments where he was a very effective linebacker, but he was also completely useless in coverage. Pro Football Focus had Riley as their tenth best run-stopper, but only the 3oth best in coverage. Even if they re-sign Riley, there’s no question that the Raiders need help at linebacker.
Jarrad Davis is a great linebacker prospect. Davis has got good size, he’s a hard hitter, and he’s a leader on the field. The senior is a versatile athlete that is effective at handling backs but can also control tight ends. Additionally, he’s good enough in coverage to be an immediate upgrade over the middle, and a very good tackler when running downhill.
With Reggie McKenzie making a point of going after high-character players, an athletic specimen like Davis at a position of need might be a perfect fit. Head coach Jack Del Rio has been very vocal about wanting to get more interior pressure, but that’s a topic for another article.
Jarrad Davis has a nagging ankle injury. Fans of the Oakland Raiders are sick of talented players with injury problems. Injuries kept Darren McFadden off the field, prevented D.J. Hayden from living up to first round expectations, and Derek Carr‘s fibula essentially ruined their season. Not only does Davis have that nagging injury, but it will prevent him from doing drills at the combine.
It’s true that Davis can just do those drills at Florida’s pro day, and that missing the combine may even hurt his draft stock, making him more likely to fall to Oakland at 24, but there are other problems. After all, no draft prospect is perfect. Sometimes he loses his patience against the run, allowing backs to get past or around him, and it is possible to block him without committing to a double-team. This is mostly because he lacks the ideal size, as even though he’s over six feet tall, he’s only 238 pounds.
Jarrad Davis is a talented linebacker, and he looks fantastic in space. While his size is a problem, but he more than makes up with his athleticism. Davis has got an incredible motor and has no problem getting after the ball-carrier. Alongside guys like Khalil Mack, Bruce Irvin, Aldon Smith, and Mario Edwards, Davis could make life difficult for offenses in 2017.
Davis is a Raider, even if he never suits up for the team; he’s hungry, he’s got a good head on his shoulders, and he can play all three downs. The biggest knock against Davis is that he’s a little too hungry, and that’s barely a bad thing. As long as he can remain focused, Davis could be a very good linebacker in the NFL someday, and hopefully he’ll be a very good linebacker as a member of the Oakland Raiders.