The New Orleans Saints continued fumigating the linebacker corps by signing New York Jets free agent Demario Davis. The movement started two years ago with the additions of Craig Robertson and Nate Stupar, picked up steam last spring with A.J. Klein, Manti Te’o, and Alex Anzalone, and now reaches its logical conclusion via Davis.
Davis is on the older side (he turned 29-years old back in January) but he brings a combination of experience and athletic upside the Saints desperately need. He runs well and defends his zone ably, making for a great fit in the middle of the field. Check out how well he plays this look off of a disguised blitz to drop back as the seam defender:
One of the best coverage snaps that I've seen from Demario Davis. pic.twitter.com/FYCblS8ZfU— Kyle Smith (@AFCEastBros) November 19, 2017
Davis looks like a natural fit given Saints defensive coordinator Dennis Allen’s love for these double A-gap linebacker blitzes. He’s an effective pass rusher when his number is called for real, there, too - last year he bagged five sacks and fifteen other quarterback hits on 145 attempts last year. That fits what the Saints have been looking for at linebacker, with Klein and Anzalone also known for their blitzing ability.
The best thing Davis has to offer is potentially pushing reserves like Craig Robertson off the roster. Look at the difference in how they defend similar routes:
Williams runs a drag. Demario Davis comes up in his hook zone to make the big hit. pic.twitter.com/E877JoRZVP— Joe Blewett (@Joerb31) December 27, 2017
Look how slow & unathletic #52 Craig Robertson looks at the bottom of the screen. This is why the Saints need to go LB 1st round pic.twitter.com/fBGjzgdxGp— kenny (@jailposejesus) January 19, 2018
So you’re staring down the barrel of Davis starting at middle linebacker (he led the Jets defense, and nearly the entire NFL, with 1,116 snaps last year) with Anzalone and Klein flanking him. Te’o gets work as your fourth man, but maybe you luck into one of the several talented rookies like Rashaan Evans, Leighton Vander Esch, or Lorenzo Carter in this year’s NFL Draft to round out the group. That’s a situation that stands to look miles better than what we’ve seen in the past.