The guard position holds an interesting place in the hierarchy of positional value.
Every team is interested in building a strong offensive line, and the guards are an important part of that. They help set the depth of the pocket, protect against inside pressure, and play big roles in opening up running lanes. But like since the athletic requirements aren’t as rare as what is needed for the offensive tackle or center positions, teams have to (or at least should) prioritize those positions ahead of the guards.
Ohio State right guard Wyatt Davis is arguably the top guard prospect in the draft, and one of the very best interior linemen in the draft. However, he is “just” a guard and might not hear his name called as early as his play on the field might warrant.
Just how long he has to wait remains to be seen, but if the New York Giants find themselves looking for a guard in April’s draft, could he fall into their laps?
Prospect: Wyatt Davis
Games Watched: vs. Michigan State (2019), vs. Michigan (2019), vs. Penn State (2020), vs. Clemson (2020)
Red Flags: Knee (2020)
Games Played: 28 (8 in 2020)
Best: Size, length, athleticism, play strength, leverage, competitive toughness
Worst: Balance, occasional awareness lapses
Projection: A starting guard with scheme versatility.
Ohio State’s Wyatt Davis has the size, athleticism, play strength, technique, and competitive toughness to be a starting guard at the NFL level.
Davis is a big guard prospect with quick feet, good leverage, natural flexibility, and very good play strength. He became Ohio State’s every-down starter at right guard at the right guard position in 2019, which is where he aligned for the last two seasons. Davis has good lower-body flexibility, easily settling into a compact stance and exploding with leverage at the snap of the ball. He is able to maintain his knee bend and hip level throughout the snap, as well as moving laterally with good fluidity. Davis has the foot speed to mirror most interior defenders, and generally does a very good job of picking up late pressure.
He works very well with his teammates, both in double-teams, combo blocks, and to pick up and pass off defenders on stunts and twists.
Davis is a dominant run blocker, able to consistently generate movement along the line of scrimmage in almost any blocking scheme. He has the play strength to drive defenders off the ball in man-gap schemes, as well as enough athleticism to stress the defensive front in zone schemes. Likewise, he has enough agility and long speed to be an effective pulling guard and is able to block with accuracy in space. He is better in power concepts than outside zone running schemes, but can execute both effectively.
Davis plays with great competitive toughness in both pass protection and run blocking. Davis regularly competes through the echo of the whistle and consistently looks to finish his blocks with the defender on the ground.
Davis can occasionally suffer from balance issues, particularly if a defender is able to deflect part of the force of his block. Likewise, he can, very occasionally, lose track of the play around him and miss defenders in the backfield. Teams will also want to pay attention to Davis’ medical reports after he exited the National Championship game with a knee injury, appearing later with crutches on the sidelines.
Overall Grade: 8.8 - This prospect has a high floor and ceiling, with the traits to start immediately in the NFL.
Wyatt Davis projects as a starting guard with scheme versatility in the NFL. He has the athleticism to transition to the left side if his future team needs to use him there, but staying at right guard would allow for a quick transition to the NFL.
Davis is, for the most part, a “clean” prospect with all the traits to be a reliable starter and step into a starting role almost immediately in the NFL and play in any blocking scheme. Even Davis’ weaknesses will likely improve with experience, particularly his slight tendency to lose track of defenders on chaotic plays. He already has the technique and play strength to start on an NFL line, and should adapt to the speed of the pro game quickly.
Coaches will likely fall in love with Davis’ competitive toughness over the course of the draft process. Davis is every bit a mauling guard and it was not a rare occurrence to see him finish a play with his man on the ground. There were even several occasions in which Davis would put an exclamation point on the play by jumping on the defender he threw to the ground like a pro wrestler going for the pin.
Davis’ late knee injury will likely garner interest, both for his timeline to return to the field and for his future prognosis. However, if those reports are optimistic, there are few concerns with Davis’ play on the field.
Davis’ draft stock is likely limited by his positional value — that of a “guard only” prospect — but what you see is what you get from him as a prospect. And what you get from Wyatt Davis is a good plug and play guard.