It can be easy to get excited for upside and potential, but it can also be dangerous to confuse what a player could be with what he is.
That has been the case for Alabama defensive tackle Raekwon Davis, who at once flashes exciting potential, but has also had stretches of disappointing production. Davis was extremely productive two years ago, but over the last two seasons has seen that production fall off.
The New York Giants have an affinity for defensive tackles, particularly big, long, powerful ones. And they could also use a pass rush from somewhere in their defensive front. Could the Giants look at Davis’ flashes and sophomore production (8.5 sacks, 10 tackles for a loss) and believe they can coax that out of him on a consistent basis?
Prospect: Raekwon Davis (iDL, Alabama)
Games Watched: vs. South Carolina (2019), vs. Arkansas (2019), vs. LSU (2019), vs. Auburn (2019)
Red Flags: none
Games Played: 43
Tackles For a loss: 19.5
Games Played: 12
Tackles For a loss: 3.0
Best: Length, size, power
Projection: A rotational defensive lineman in a one-gap 3-4 defense.
Raekwon Davis is a big, long, powerful defensive line prospect from the University of Alabama. Davis has very good length for the position to go with plus power and play strength, allowing him to find success as both a run defender and as a power pass rusher. Davis uses his length well when attacking a single gap, extending his arms to create separation before shedding the block and pushing through into the backfield. He flashes impressive power, able to drive blockers backward as a pass rusher or control blocks before shedding to make a tackle in the run game. He has large, powerful hands and the play strength to torque blockers, which help him to shed and make tackles.
Davis flashes a good arm-over move as a speed counter to his power rushes. He also flashes surprisingly good linear explosiveness, allowing him to penetrate gaps before blockers are fully able to get into their pass sets.
Davis’ long arms, big hands, and good play strength allow for a wide tackle range, as he is able to make plays away from his frame while defending gaps at the line of scrimmage.
Davis lacks consistency in several areas of his game. He is inconsistent in his timing of the snap, leading to an inconsistent get-off and difficulty disrupting the offense. Davis is also inconsistent in his hand usage, at times showing good placement and extension while other times trying to rush with his shoulders. Likewise, Davis shows inconsistent hip level, particularly when asked to two-gap. In those situations he can pop up off the line of scrimmage, bending at the waist and compromising his leverage. Finally, Davis is lacking in agility, which can limit his options in stunts and twists, as well as taking outside routes to the quarterback as a pass rusher.
Overall Grade: 6.2 - Has the traits to be a good back-up or rotational player in the NFL. Could be a dependable starter in the right system. [Grading Scale]
Raekwon Davis projects best into a one-gap 3-4 defense. His flashes of power, technique, and explosiveness suggest the upside to be a starter in that defense, but his consistent inconsistency make it difficult to project that with confidence.
Davis flashes the ability to be dominating in the right situations, overpowering blockers or blowing through gaps to disrupt in the backfield. And those traits are easy to get excited about, but there are also too many reps that see him hung up on blockers or pushed out of the play. After spending four years at Alabama, we can’t say that Davis will improve with better coaching at the NFL, as he already received some of the best coaching at any level. However, a different voice and coaching technique, and perhaps the ability to focus on football full-time, will help improve his consistency issues.
Davis flashes the upside to be a good starter as a 5-technique defensive tackle with the versatility to play a 3-technique even front in nickel packages. That beings said, the lulls separating those flashes are disconcerting. If he can improve his consistency he has a chance to outplay his draft slot.