Jarrad Davis was selected 21st overall by the Detroit Lions back in 2017, fresh off an outstanding final season as a Florida Gator. He was touted for his leadership and athletic ability, but the Lions never seemed to figure out how to use him. He struggled in his first three seasons in Detroit, but still flashed some of the potential that made scouts fall in love with him.
Davis’ best season came in 2018, starting in all 16 games at middle linebacker. He finished the season with 100 total tackles, 10 tackles for loss, six sacks and a forced fumble. However, he still was not playing to the level folks around the league expected from him. 2019 saw Davis step back once again in terms of production, and he only played in 11 games. In 2020, he took another step back, only playing in 14 games. Out of those 14 games, he only started in four.
In fact, reports recently came out that Davis even considered retiring after the 2020 season. According to this article by Dennis Waszak Jr. of the Associated Press, Davis said, “I contemplated walking away.” He continued, “I really did, man. But at the end of the day, like, I wouldn’t have felt right doing something else, you know?” Despite this nagging thought, Davis ended up signing a one-year, $5.5 million contract with the New York Jets, fresh off their signing of new Head Coach Robert Saleh.
One of Davis’s reasons for signing with the Jets was his interest in playing for Saleh, due to the system he runs. The feeling is obviously mutual for Saleh, as well as new defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich. Ulbrich, who spent the last five seasons with the Atlanta Falcons as the Linebackers coach, apparently loved his game. He said, “Absolutely loved the makeup of the guy, loved the player.” He continued, “Always was super hungry to get him within this system, put him on repeat, let him just master some techniques. Let his speed and his run just go. And, that’s all starting to show up.”
Davis might not excel immediately, but he should fit in nicely next to C.J. Mosley. Mosley didn’t play in 2020 due to Covid-19, but his return to the defense should help everyone around him, including Davis. The two veterans should not only elevate their game this season, but bring the younger guys up with them. The Jets drafted Hamsah Nasirildeen and Jamien Sherwood in the 2021 NFL Draft, and both should be positively impacted by the leadership Davis and Mosley will bring.
Jets fans should be excited for this defensive group, and Davis is one of the biggest reasons. He has shown off the charts athleticism, which Saleh and Ulbrich should be able to build on. All he needs is to learn the technique, which has never been a problem for Saleh-coached players.
Look for Davis to struggle in the beginning of the season. It is not irregular for a player to struggle in a new system, especially in a new place. However, as the season goes on, look for him to play well in the run game, and improve in coverage. The potential he has is through the roof, and this is why Jarrad Davis should be on everyone’s radar.