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2017 New Orleans Saints draft targets: Jarrad Davis

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Jarrad Davis has been a popular name paired to the Saints, so what’s the skinny on the Florida Gator linebacker?

NCAA Football: Citrus Bowl-Michigan vs Florida Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

The 2017 New Orleans Saints draft is arguably the most important the franchise is facing under head coach Sean Payton. Many view this as the year the Saints must get back into the playoff mix, and naturally the team has made some big strides over the past few months to help build their case. Still, there’s work to be done, as there are still some key pieces the team will need.

Today, we’ll take a look at Florida Gators linebacker Jarrad Davis, who has been a popular name paired to the Saints as a potential 32nd overall pick.

Measurables and Pro Day Results

  • Height: 6-foot-1
  • Weight: 238 pounds
  • Hands: 9 3/4”
  • Arms: 33 1/2”
  • 40-Yard Dash: 4.56 seconds
  • Vertical: 39.5”
  • Broad Jump: 10’9”
  • Bench Reps: 23

Pro Comparisons: Shaq Thompson, Bobby Wagner (PFF), Phillip Wheeler

How He Could Help the Saints

Out of 220 pass snaps, Davis was credited with seven missed tackles. However, on 228 snaps against the run, Davis had just one missed tackle. One of the areas that he gets a ton of praise for is in pass rushing. Pro Football Focus grades Davis with the 13th-highest pass rushing productivity among all linebackers. Per the guide, Davis had two sacks, three hits, three hurries, and eight total pressures on opposing quarterbacks with 31 pass rush snaps.

Davis offers versatility, something the Saints could desperately use from a linebacker. And pairing that with new linebackers coach Mike Nolan could be advantageous for Dennis Allen’s defense. He could easily be in the conversation as a top WILL linebacker. Davis can be good in coverage while being able to read and recognize to be in a position to make the play. He’s also a physical player, as you’ll notice from his power used against Alabama’s Cam Robinson.

Jarrad Davis in Coverage
Jarrad Davis vs. Cam Robinson

Now, his aggressive tendencies can cause him to overpursue, miss easy gap assignments, and flat out whiff on tackles. Although he exhibits some good coverage in his game, there are times that he can get caught sleeping. Still, he’s proven that can go toe-to-toe with opposing tight ends and running backs, and would be a big asset in blitz packages.

Outlook

After last year’s debacle at linebacker, which was once thought of as a strong suit for the team, there’s going to be at least 2-3 linebackers added between a combination of the draft and undrafted rookie free agent pool. Yes, the Saints have made strides by adding Manti Te’o and A.J. Klein in free agency. Also, they have some promising young talent in Travis Feeney, and CFL star Adam Bighill could make a tremendous impact. Still, it’s hard to say that Mike Nolan can salvage former first-round pick Stephone Anthony’s career. Plus, you don’t know what you’ll get out of Dannell Ellerbe. The only constants on the defense are Nathan Stupar and Craig Robertson.

Jarrad Davis has been on the wrong side of injuries, so naturally there would be some hesitation in selecting him. However, he’s still a top prospect at his position in a very mixed bag of linebacking talent. Plus, he played through injury, something that is hard to put a price on at times. Had he been completely healthy, there’d be some interesting debates on whether or not he could edge out Alabama’s Reuben Foster or Vanderbilt’s Zach Cunningham.

In reality, if the Saints still look for a linebacker, they could find Davis at No. 32 or possibly at No. 42.