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Making the case for the Eagles to draft Jordan Davis [UPDATE]

If the Eagles don’t overthink it, Davis would be an excellent pick at No. 15.

NCAA Football: Georgia Pro Day Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

UPDATE: For the second year in a row, the Eagles drafted the player we made the case for them to pick in the annual SB Nation NFL writers mock draft! Welcome to Philly, Jordan Davis!

ORIGINAL STORY BELOW.


If there’s a lesson for the Philadelphia Eagles to learn from their last two draft classes, it’s that they shouldn’t overthink their approach. They are better served by Occam’s razor, which states that the simplest solution is almost always the best.

The Eagles overthought it when they ultimately talked themselves out of consensus pick Justin Jefferson to instead select Jalen Reagor in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft. They got too wrapped up in a perceived lack of fit instead of valuing all the boxes that Jefferson checked. They also talked themselves into Reagor more than they should have.

Eagles fans can hope that the selection of DeVonta Smith last year shows the team learned from their big mistake. Leading up to the 2021 NFL Draft, the case was made that they didn’t need to talk themselves out of taking the Heisman Trophy winner who absolutely dominated the SEC. And, sure enough, the ‘keep it simple, stupid’ method worked for them as Smith went on to set a new Eagles franchise record for rookie receiving yards.

When it comes to the 2022 NFL Draft, the Eagles need to once again aim to ‘KISS.’ Should they draft one of the most athletic prospects EVER? One who won an award for being the best defender in all of college football? And while he majorly contributed to his team winning the national championship game?

It’s gonna be a yes from me, Dawg.

Jordan Davis would be very good pick for the Eagles at No. 15 overall.

The upside

I feel the need to stress “one of the most athletic prospects EVER.” This isn’t an exaggeration:

Why wouldn’t you want to take a chance on a 6’6”, 341-pound defender with these kind of athletic tools? Especially when one considers Davis only started playing football in his sophomore year of high school and just turned 22 in January. There’s reason to believe he hasn’t yet reached his ceiling.

Davis is obviously more than just a workout warrior. He was a dominant interior presence for the national champs. That much might not be reflected in the stat sheet with just two sacks in 14 games. And just seven sacks in 41 total games at Georgia. But his impact obviously goes beyond the box score given the extra attention that he commands; he can’t regularly be single-blocked. One must also consider that Kirby Smart’s scheme hasn’t exactly produced prospects with big-time sack numbers (see: Devonte Wyatt with five in four years, Travon Walker with 9.5 in three years).

The need

Defensive tackle is an obvious long-term need for the Eagles.

Fletcher Cox is set to be a free agent after 2022 since the Eagles (unwisely) re-signed him to a one-year, $14 million contract briefly after releasing him. Cox turns 32 this year and has a ton of mileage on his body.

Javon Hargrave is set to be a free agent after 2022. The team might have interest in signing him to an extension. Even so, it’s worth noting he turns 30 next February.

Milton Williams showed intriguing potential as a rookie. Outside of him, though, the Eagles lack much promise at DT. The likes of Marlon Tuipulotu, Marvin Wilson, and Renell Wren are hardly even sure-fire candidates to make this year’s roster.

There’s a clear path to Davis being a key contributor in Philly for years to come.

The experts

Josh Norris and Ben Fennell had a great breakdown on Davis that’s absolutely worth your time. The short of it is they see a special prospect who defies the mold of a prototypical run-stuffer.

From NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein:

Beefy, mountainous nose tackle with the size, power and will to clog the drain and alter the offense’s desire to run between the tackles. Davis has anchor and quick-shed talent to eviscerate single blocks and successfully occupy double teams, allowing linebackers to thrive in pursuit of ball-carriers. He plays upright, lacking agility and reactive quickness to mark up a stat sheet with any consistency, but that’s not what he’s asked to do. Davis won’t be as effective against outside-zone teams and won’t offer much rush, but he could become one of the league’s best run-pluggers as soon as he takes the field.

NFL comparison: Haloti Ngata

From The Ringer’s Danny Kelly:

Davis has an extremely quick first step and moves easily for a big man; he can bound from gap to gap in an instant, occasionally leaving offensive linemen lunging and grasping at a cloud of dust as he explodes out of his stance. He brings a wrecking ball style to the interior defensive line, throwing his weight around to make his presence known. He’s a steamroller on the bull rush and has more than enough power to push an opposing offensive lineman (sometimes two) back into the pocket; he runs his feet and fights with his hands and quickly gets opponents onto the ropes. He typically plays with good leverage despite being so tall, and brings forklift strength to strike opponents and lift them onto their heels.

Davis lines up at multiple spots on the defensive line, frequently taking on double-teams to help free up his linemates. There were times when he made it almost look like Georgia was playing with an extra guy on the line, because he is so long and capable of covering so much ground as a run defender. He just mucks up the whole plan of the offensive line. And if that weren’t enough, Davis also pulled some spot duty as the team’s goal-line fullback, scoring a touchdown against Charleston Southern (he also got a look as an extra lineman in Georgia’s goal-line package against Alabama).

The concern

One of the biggest concerns about Davis is that he won’t be able to handle a large workload in the NFL. His snap counts at Georgia were lower since he wasn’t an every-down player.

That much shouldn’t be a huge red flag for the Eagles. They rotate their defensive linemen pretty heavily anyway. Look at their DT snap counts from 2021:

Fletcher Cox — 66.43%
Javon Hargrave — 64.65%
Milton Williams — 40.50%
Hassan Ridgeway — 33.13%

It doesn’t take Davis playing every single snap to make a significant impact.

The value

By no means am I advocating for “DT Winz” here. But it’s interesting to think about the impact that a dominant, hulking interior defender can have. Ngata on the Baltimore Ravens. Vita Vea on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Vince Wilfork on the New England Patriots. All key contributors to Super Bowl-winning teams.

The final word

There’s a strong case to be made the Eagles are currently “stuck in the NFL’s middle tier.” They need to be looking for needle-movers that can help them break through to another level. They should be aiming to swing for the fences ... not trying to merely settle for a zero-RBI double.

Davis has the chance to be a real difference-maker. The Eagles don’t need to overthink this one.

Poll

Should the Eagles draft Jordan Davis at No. 15?

This poll is closed

  • 88%
    Yes
    (2904 votes)
  • 11%
    No
    (367 votes)
3271 votes total Vote Now

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