Davis’ pass rushing production fell off a cliff after his sophomore season, and it really wasn’t due to a difference in scheme from opposing offenses. Davis is at his best as a pass rusher when he’s aligned as the 3-technique, working straight ahead through the “B” gap and attacking guards. He’s flashed a pull and arm over move that has left offensive lineman blocking air, but his pass rush plan can lack any sense of plan.
He takes extra time to read the backfield, failing to string together moves. Sometimes, he’s late to get out of his stance and doesn’t explode into his bull rush. Doesn’t have the build to really penetrate from nose tackle, lacking power from his lower body when he’s unable to get two or three solid steps into his rush.
Davis doesn’t have the lower-half bend to operate on the edge, and his path to the quarterback is too often widened as a result. Even on interior stunts, Davis is unable to find the correct lane to disrupt the pocket. Allow him to penetrate one gap and his length and strength will create some havoc, otherwise he doesn’t offer consistency as a pass rusher.
Davis does well to recognize screens due to his consistent extension, and busts his tail to chase down those plays when they’re completed.
Run Defense / Gap Integrity
Displays impressive extension into the pads of the offensive lineman, keeping the arch in his back and winning the leverage battle. Davis’ best run defense comes against zone blocking, as he’s able to hold his ground in his gap and keep his eyes to the ball carrier. Remains disciplined in his gap, and can swallow ball carriers who attempt to bounce their runs outside of him.
When he’s aligned as defensive end, he sets a strong edge and uses physicality to attack and take on pullers. Will occasionally extend before a push-pull move, but far too often he’s late to disengage from blocks. He’ll allow ball carriers to get beyond the line of scrimmage and scramble to disengage a second too late. Doesn’t show proper awareness against double teams, failing to split them and allowing push off the line of scrimmage. Has allowed the offensive lineman to combo block him into the lap of his second-level.
Here’s a rep where Davis is too late to disengage from the block:
Davis’ block destruction is cause for concern, though it seemingly isn’t because of a lack of traits. There are instances where Davis gets underneath the pads of offensive lineman, extending into them and throwing them aside. On top of them, his swim move has power and violence behind it and has had effectiveness during his time in college.
However, Davis far too often accepts stalemates once he’s able to extend his arms. His processing of the backfield keeps him from stringing together moves in order to disengage from the block. On a lot of reps, Davis is late to pull away from the block, resulting in a recoil from the offensive lineman that knocks Davis off-balance.
Physical Profile / Athleticism
Davis is one of the most impressive physical specimens you’ll see on the defensive line. Listed at 6’7 and over 300 pounds, he has a long frame that is mostly chiseled for a player at his position. Strong, explosive athlete which can make up for a lack of technique or awareness in some aspects. His size and length has disrupted passing lanes, especially when he’s able to shoot the “B” gap on passing downs.
Productive – 175 tackles in his career
Third Round Value
Raekwon Davis is an intriguing talent with an impressive profile of athleticism and physical traits. After his sophomore season (8.5 sacks), many thought he was a potential first-round draft pick. However, his pass rushing production fell off a cliff, though he showed slight improvements on his awareness and block destruction against the run over those two seasons. His NFL projection will be a unique one.
Davis can be an excellent run defender when tasked with zone blocking schemes, in particular because he’s constantly winning the extension and leverage battle while remaining gap sound. However, his lack of success against true gap-scheme combination blocks suggests that his production could fall off against those runs.
As a pass rusher, teams should allow him to penetrate the “B” gap, disrupting the pocket from the 3-technique position. NFL teams that predominantly rush from an even front should be searching for Davis as a supplemental pass rusher.
Due to the fact that Davis offers scheme-specific traits against both the run and pass and is an impressive physical specimen, he should be an option for teams on Day 2 of the NFL Draft.