We’ve thrown a lot of the same names around over the last however many months in preparation for the draft: Jaylen Waddle, Micah Parsons, the quarterbacks, the cornerbacks, etc.
In all the repeating and repeating, it’s easy to miss someone who wasn’t getting much buzz when the conversation started but is now. Devin McCourty was a riser. So too was Jerod Mayo. Never rule out the risers!
So who would that be this year? How about Jamin Davis, the linebacker from Kentucky? His Pro Day changed a lot of folks' tunes from “he only had one good year” to “he just played his best football and is a freak.”
Depending on who you ask, Davis ran either a 4.47 or 4.48 40, which is second only to Parsons among linebackers in this draft, according to Pro Football Network.
But remember, we’re talking about Bill Belichick. The man drafted Brandon Spikes, who walked the 40 for 5.05 long, hilarious seconds. Same with Ja’Whaun Bentley (4.75).
And yeah, Jamie Collins and Jerod Mayo were very athletic linebackers picked early, but it’s the body type that might be what hurts Davis in the eyes of the Pats.
The Patriots like their linebackers sturdy. Dont’a Hightower is 6-foot-3 and 255 pounds. Anfernee Jennings, whom they drafted last year, is 6-foot-2 and 256 pounds. Josh Uche’s a bit lighter at 6-foot-1 and 245.
Davis, meanwhile, is 6-foot-3 and 234 pounds, so Hightower minus roughly 20 pounds.
Here’s Lance Zierlein’s writeup on him from NFL.com:
Lightly experienced, but ascending inside linebacker prospect with excellent blend of size, length and pursuit talent. Davis plays with his pads squared to the line of scrimmage, operating with quick, lateral scrapes and a nose for finding the ball-carrier. He needs to improve his technique in taking on blocks and constricting run lanes. His vision, focus and field awareness are innate strengths that all play a part in his ability to play past blockers with his eyes and pursue with consistent fluidity to the direction of the running play. He can cover big tight ends. He also plays with anticipation and an above-average catch radius to make quarterbacks pay for taking him lightly in zone. Davis could use more seasoning before he's ready for full-time snaps but he should become a starter.
ESPN’s latest mock draft with Mel Kiper and Todd McShay has Davis going 19th overall (it has the Pats trading up to No. 7 to grab Mac Jones). A lot of mocks still don’t have him going in the first round.
The Pats shouldn’t be scared off by Davis’ size. Know who weighs less than 240 pounds? Devin White, and that guy’s a freaking stud.
This isn’t like DeVonta Smith weighing in at 166 pounds. There’s a track record of sub-175-pound receivers getting drafted high and not being very good. Smith’s weigh-in should be troubling.
Lighter, faster linebackers vs. thicker fellas? That’s seemingly just a preference thing. If the Pats like what they see on tape, that should be enough.