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Can UDFA LB Tae Davis earn a spot with the Giants?

Coverage skills, versatility give him a chance

NCAA Football: Chattanooga at Louisiana State
Tae Davis tries to tackle Derrius Guice.
Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

There are usually one or two undrafted free agent signees who exceed expectations and make the roster for the New York Giants. Can linebacker Tae Davis be one of those this time?

Let’s take a closer look at Davis as we continue our player-by-player look at the 90-man roster the Giants will bring to training camp.

The basics

Age: 21
Experience: 0
Position: LB
Height: 6-foot-1
Weight: 224

2017 season in review

Moved from safety to outside linebacker. Responded by leading Tennessee-Chattanooga in tackles with 74 (42 solo) in just nine games. He had a sack, five tackles for loss and six quarterback pressures.

2018 outlook

The Giants are looking for versatile, hybrid-type players for James Bettcher’s multiple defense. More and more, coordinators like Bettcher are relying on the concept of “position-less” defenders who can be moved around to create confusion on offense.

The NFL Draft Report believes that Davis is a player who can be such a hybrid, a combination linebacker/strong safety. Here is part of Davis’ profile from The NFL Draft Report:

Davis is an instinctive player who is rarely caught out of position. It is his ability to quickly react to the run or pass that might see him use his power and size better as a strong safety/Cover-2 line-backer at the next level. He just has a good understanding for the game, evident by his ability to hold opposing receivers to just 3.29 yards per pass attempt (59 targeted passes) as a senior.

The former strong safety has proven to be very effective handling man coverage assignments. He shows the foot quickness and body control to make smooth and quick adjustments on the move and with his acceleration he is quick to close on plays in front of him. He might lack the blazing speed to run stride-for-stride with the quicker receivers one-on-one, but he shows good hand usage to prevent the route progression of most of his opponents.

Working in the intermediate area or over the middle of the field, his ability to make good angles lets him mirror the slot receivers with great ease. Davis is very alert to action in front of him and has a very good feel for playing in the deep zone. He keeps good relationship with the receivers entering his territory and shows the ball anticipation skills to read the quarterback and get a good jump on the pass in flight.

Davis is fluid opening his hips to make the switch-off and has no problems (won’t false step) when he has to recover and adjust to receivers when on the move. He is equally effective as a wrap-up or drag-down type of tackler. He flashes good power behind his hits and to put it into perspective - he is simply a physical, “in-your-face” type of defender who will strike, jolt and try to dislodge the ball from his man. He has above average athletic ability, especially when moving laterally, as he can clear trash and makes the play in crowded areas. The thing you see on film is his ability to not only collision with the opponent, but to maintain his balance and make the tackle when working in space.

Davis is a tenacious hitter with a lot of “linebacker blood” coursing through his veins. He hits with good authority and likes to get through blocking schemes to attack ball carriers. He is good slipping through blocks and does a nice job of containing the ball carrier in run force. He looks natural closing on the ball in front of him and is explosive stepping up to deliver his hits. He plays under control, yet is very aggressive and knows how to take proper angles to attack the runner.

Is there a spot for Davis on the roster as a reserve linebacker and special teams player?