LB Jamin Davis feels 'way more confident' entering 2022


It's no secret that Jamin Davis' rookie campaign did not go as he or the Commanders hoped.

The 19th overall selection in 2021, Davis was expected to be the missing piece for a Washington defense that finished top-five in almost every major statistical category in 2020. Instead, Davis' initial transition from Kentucky to the NFL was a difficult one -- he was unable to find a consistent role in a defense that was underwhelming overall in 2021.

Speaking with reporters during the Commanders' final week of the offseason program, Davis didn't hide from his disappointing 2021 campaign.

"Definitely a humbling experience. That's what I'll call it," Davis said on June 14. "Going forward, there's nothing I can do about it now. It's just about going out there and doing my thing."

Davis isn't spending any time dwelling on his underwhelming rookie year, though. The 23-year-old arrived in Ashburn this spring with a fresh perspective, carrying a level of confidence that was not present during his first professional season.

"[I'm] way more confident. I feel more like myself," Davis said. "Me and Cole [Holcomb] were actually just talking about that in the locker room: just getting the chance to be out there and really play your own game out there, really just putting last year behind you and going out there and doing your thing."

The second-year veteran singled out play speed as something that's been a vast difference between his rookie season and now. Davis said he feels that he's no longer overthinking when on the field, which allows his speed and athleticism to take over and make plays.


Davis later added that he didn't necessarily feel that he played slow as a rookie. But now that he has a year of NFL experience under his belt, he understands the steps he needs to take in order to become the impact player he believes he can be.

"Knowing that you can take that next step and be there a lot faster than you were in the past is what's really going to take this thing to the next level," he said.

Davis has leaned on advice from several of his teammates, with many of them reminding the linebacker that they once went through rookie struggles, too.

"Everybody just let me know, 'Hey, we've all been rookies before. Ain't nothing you can sit around and pout about. Just go out there and play ball. Just learn from it going forward and especially with how confident you are, now it's time to make it all splash.'" Davis said.

Entering the 2022 offseason, linebacker was the biggest hole on Washington's defense. Outside of Holcomb, the rest of the unit remains unproven, including Davis. That hasn't changed -- well, at least not yet.

Head coach Ron Rivera said earlier this offseason the team was open to bringing in a proven veteran at the position. Several remain available, too. Yet, Washington has remained quiet on the linebacker free-agent market, with Rivera hinting last week that they want to give a number of linebackers already on the roster a chance to prove themselves first.

So, with Washington's current depth chart at linebacker, Davis' development is crucial. The Commanders are counting on him to make a considerable stride in Year 2, something that almost certainly must happen in order for the team's defense to return among the NFL's best.

Although Davis feels more confident this offseason, it hasn't been all flowers for him this spring. Davis spent the majority of the offseason taking snaps with the first-team defense, but at times was also asked to sub out in favor of journeyman David Mayo. That was a trend towards the end of the 2021 season, but one Davis would certainly like to not repeat.

When he's been on the field, though, the second-year linebacker has impressed his head coach.

"You watch Jamin [Davis] move around and you feel good about who Jamin is right now," Rivera said on June 16. "He's had a good spring and that's an awesome thing."

As of now, the plan is for Davis to play on the outside with Holcomb manning the MIKE linebacker position. Washington's brass has praised Holcomb throughout this offseason for how he handled the role in 2021. Holcomb said earlier this spring that he wants to play in the middle, too, and feels he's more than capable of performing at a high level in that position.


Yes, Washington envisioned Davis playing the MIKE when they drafted him in 2021. Outside linebackers don't typically get selected in the first round -- the value simply isn't there.

But with Davis, the goal for 2022 should be to find a position for him where he can make the most impact. For now, that's on the outside. Davis is embracing that role, too.

"I'm comfortable wherever they put me, to be honest," Davis said. "Now, I'm just trying to go out there and play a lot faster. It's always a benefit to have a guy like Cole Holcomb beside you."

At times, Davis showed flashes of such as a rookie. Yet, Davis' overall body of work was not consistent enough for him to be a difference-maker on a weekly basis. That consistency is what he and the Commanders are hoping to improve the most entering his sophomore campaign.

"That's the key to anything, just going out there and trying to be as consistent as possible. ... Going forward, that'll be the key to the success for the whole defense in general," Davis said. " ... I'm going to go out there and just play my game, do what I can to learn going forward and play some more Jamin Davis football."