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Getting Drafty: Jordan Davis

We continue our tour through Georgia’s NFL Draft prospects with the big man literally at the heart of the 2022 UGA defense.

Charleston Southern v Georgia Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images

Everyone loves Jordan Davis.

Fans love that Davis began his Bulldog career as a three star recruit and ended it a national champion.

Coaches love that he put in the work to rebuild his massive but doughey frame into an even more massive albeit much less doughey countenance, and that he came back for his senior season when he could have been at worst a third round pick in the 2021 draft.

NFL scouts love that he looks like brick wall and moves like a grizzly bear who hasn’t eaten all winter and woke up next to a newly-built salmon farm.

There’s a lot to love about Jordan Davis. He finished 2021 as a first team All-SEC selection. He was a finalist for the Nagurski Award. He was voted one of the national champions’ (wow, I never get tired of typing that) four permanent captains by his teammates. He ran for a touchdown against Charleston Southern. He conducted the Redcoat Marching Band. I’m sure there were a few old ladies helped across Broad Street at some point, but a man like Jordan Davis doesn’t toot his own horn by bragging about that sort of deal and the old ladies probably don’t have Instagram, so we’ll never really know. It might have actually been three old ladies.

There’s a lot to love about Jordan Davis, and there’s also a lot of Jordan Davis to love. By now we’ve all seen the big, middle-plugging nose guard who’s unmovable in college but shows up to the Combine only to be outed as two biscuits too heavy to succeed in the league. Again, that does not appear to be Mr. Davis’s lot in life. Jordan checked in at a sun-blocking 6’6 and 341 pounds at the Combine before running a relatively blistering 4.78 forty yard dash, second among defensive linemen only to fellow ‘Dawg Devonte Wyatt, who ran a 4.77. They were faster than every other defensive lineman and every offensive lineman at the Combine by a full tenth of a second. Davis also vertical leaped 32 inches, which frankly shouldn’t be physically possible. I assume glasses of water shook on tables in Cincinnati when he landed.

Those who don’t understand Davis’s role will look at his 32 total tackles (less than 3 per game) and 2.0 total sacks on the season and assume he’s just another big body who happens to be on a football field, rather than a true football player. That’s just silly. It’s the equivalent of plopping an iceberg in the middle of the Mississippi River and saying it had no effect because of all the boats that steered straight into the bank to get around it.

For every one of these plays where a major college offensive lineman (or two) was rendered helpless to stop Davis’s charge into the backfield to make a tackle there are four more where two such future professional football players barely held onto him and Nakobe Dean or Nolan Smith or Channing Tindall arrived virtually unimpeded at the ball carrier. Davis was the giant, swirling black hole from which space ships escape only to be zapped by the Klingons. The frying pan from which one escapes on the way into the fire.

You don’t ask your 0 technique nose tackle to make 7 tackles a game. You ask him to require so many grown men to grab onto him grimacing and crying out in alarm that other people can make 7 tackles a game. And Davis is very, very good at that.

The question for NFL front office and coaching types will likely be . . .is that all he’s very good at? And how high a price is too high to pay if it is this very large pony’s one trick? Even though he proved very well-conditioned for his size during 2021 Davis still wore down when offenses were able to keep the Red and Black defense on the field. That was a rare occurrence, but when it happened Davis was clearly gassed. When you’re that big and require that much oxygen, it’s hard to hide when you’re sucking air.

There’s also bound to be some concern for the future. The NFL retirement rolls are full of gargantuan nose tackles who, flush with cash and free from the watchful eye of SEC nutritionists, ate themselves right out of the league. Kirby Smart even mentioned at least once that Davis’s penchant for Swedish Fish, his favorite candy, had occasionally made him a noticeable step slower. Only Jordan Davis, and potentially not even Jordan Davis, can know whether he’ll be able to stay on the right side of his playing weight in the event of injury or the weight of his own metabolism.

A final question for those considering drafting Davis is whether he can play anywhere other than over the center. Davis is undeniably quick for a man of his size. Preternaturally so. But even at that Georgia often shifted Travon Walker or Devonte Wyatt over to the middle in obvious passing downs. Can he play a consistent 3-technique in the NFL? Is it worth paying top of the first round money for a guy who may not even be an every down player? That is the question which has ultimately made first round pure nose tackles as rare as Auburn fans at the opera over the past decade. In the new, spreadier NFL those big space eaters are often a luxury, not a necessity.

But some NFL team is going to be mesmerized by the sheer bigness of Jordan Davis. Like us they’ll undoubtedly be pulled into his gravity. The guy is a big, smiling, gummy worm eating, Greek mythology-loving, DJ set hosting planet of a man.

I love him. You love him. And NFL fans are going to love him, too.

Until later . . .

Go ‘Dawgs!!!