UPDATE: This article was published on the morning of the 2022 NFL Draft, before the Eagles selected Jordan Davis. Even more relevant now that he’s actually headed to Philly!
ORIGINAL STORY BELOW.
That’s strictly speculation.
Chuck Smith, known as Dr. Rush, who played nine years in the NFL, mostly with the Atlanta Falcons, and his assistant Dez Walker, runs the Chuck Smith Training Systems, based in Norcross, Georgia. Smith and Walker work with Aaron Donald, Von Miller, Steelers All-Pro Cam Heyward, and Raiders All-Pro edge rusher Maxx Crosby.
They also work with Davis.
Both Smith and Walker feel there may be no better fit for Davis than the Eagles.
“First, Jordan is big, strong and stout, and the first thing that makes him special is what people don’t give him enough credit for is stopping the run,” said Smith, who is originally from Camden, New Jersey, and has family in Philadelphia. “The Eagles aren’t exactly known for being ‘the Steel Curtain’ when it comes to stopping the run. Jordan is the guy that when you’re coming out of the tunnel, you want to be running with him. Another part of Jordan is he still has a lot to be developed. He’s going to be better and can be developed into being a productive pass rusher.
“In the Eagles’ defense, they have a race-to-the-quarterback philosophy. Jordan is a hard man to stop when he gets going. The Eagles have the team that can take him to a higher level. Jordan can play at 330, 335. With his size, conditioning is always going to be brought up. That goes with the territory. I was friends with Reggie White. Go back and look early at Reggie’s career. There was talk about having him get his weight down. Now I’m not comparing Jordan to Reggie White, but everyone has those questions when they’re that big.
“I know the kind of guy Jordan is. He’s a hard worker and he wants to get better.”
Despite being constantly double- and sometimes triple-teamed, Davis was a disruptive force in the middle of the Bulldog defense, recording 32 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss, 2 sacks and 9 quarterback hurries in the Bulldogs’ drive to their first national championship since 1980.
An AP and Coaches’ All-SEC first-team choice along with All-American recognition, Davis passed on the NFL Draft to return to lead the Bulldogs’ defense during their historic 2021 season.
Davis was considered one of the best run defenders in the SEC. Davis was named an All-American in 2020 and had an even bigger season in 2021. Davis dazzled at the NFL Combine, where at weighing 341 pounds he ran an incredible 4.78-seconds in the 40-yard dash. But Smith and Walker point out Davis is not going to be asked to run 40 yards. He’s going to be tasked to run 10 yards, and he can do that with great explosion.
Tonight, Davis could be heading to the Eagles. Davis could be there. He’s being projected to go anywhere from the middle of the first round to the latter portions of the first round. The Eagles have the 15th and 18th picks in the first round.
If you haven’t noticed, although Eagles’ fans certainly did last season with defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon, the NFL has morphed into a coverage league. It’s now commonplace to try and stymie a quarterback’s thinking with a swirling twister of dropping seven and rushing four. Teams found out how to make Josh Allen and Patrick Mahomes hesitate, which meant sometimes rushing three and dropping eight, as the Cincinnati Bengals did to the Chiefs in the AFC Championship. It was a concoction created by Buffalo Bills’ coach Sean McDermott, the former Eagles’ defensive coordinator. According to Next Gen Stats, the Bills didn’t blitz Mahomes during the first half of their 2021 regular-season game. The rare occasion was one of only two times in Next Gen Stats’ history that no blitzes occurred during a half of NFL football. The other time was the Bills’ 2020 regular-season game against the Chiefs.
Davis can be an asset here. His ability to bend back a pocket and draw double- and triple-teams in the middle could free up edge rushers.
The added intangible with Davis is his character. He would have been a first or second-round pick had he come out after his junior season in 2020. But Davis opted to go a route rarely taken today and returned to school, based on a promise he made to his teammates and his mother. There is a lot to like about Davis on the field. Once you meet him off the field, you tend to like him more.
“Aaron Donald is not Big Willying guys with the Rams, Maxx Crosby is not Big Willying guys with the Raiders, and the good thing about Jordan is that he’s a big guy who likes to have fun, and coming into Philly, if they take him, they’re going to love Jordan,” Smith said. “Jordan stands up when things are good, and he stands up when things are bad. You have good guys in Philly like Brandon Graham, and hopefully Brandon can put his arms around him.”
Fletcher Cox and Javon Hargrave are aging interior defensive linemen. Both can become free agents after the 2022 season. Davis would work well with them.
“I like the scheme of the Eagles’ defense, so Jordan getting up field and getting vertical won’t be a problem,” Walker said. “He won’t have to read and react as much as he did at Georgia. It will be a nice change up for Jordan in Philly. They didn’t ask Jordan to go up field that much. And because Georgia was blowing teams out, Jordan was out by halftime, which didn’t afford scouts to see what he can really do as a pass rusher.
“Jordan is a day-one, plug-in guy. As a starter, he can be a three-down lineman. With his tenacity and will power, he can make that step. A lot of teams are interested in Jordan. A lot of things will determine who goes where. The Eagles are 15 and 18, but the Jets pick eighth and Falcons pick 10th. Those are two teams to watch in the first 10 picks. He may not drop to 15 or 18. Jordan is a culture-changer. He’ll shut up the critics who say he can’t be a three-down lineman. Off the field, Jordan will be a fan favorite if the Eagles draft him.”
Joseph Santoliquito is an award-winning sportswriter based in the Philadelphia area who has written feature stories for SI.com, ESPN.com, NFL.com, MLB.com, Deadspin and The Philadelphia Daily News. In 2006, he was nominated for an Emmy Award for a special project piece for ESPN.com called “Love at First Beep.” He is most noted for his award-winning ESPN.com feature on high school wrestler A.J. Detwiler in February 2006, which appeared on SportsCenter. In 2015, he was elected president of the Boxing Writers Association of America.