As the buildup unfolded, it just made sense. The Eagles made sure it made sense, when they traded up with the Houston Texans, who received the Eagles’ No. 15, 124, 162 and 166 picks in exchange for their No. 13 overall pick.
With it, the Eagles selected Georgia’s mammoth Jordan Davis, a larger-than-listed 6-foot-6, 341-pound defensive tackle who recorded 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.
Davis will rotate with a defensive interior with perennial All-Pro Fletcher Cox, Javon Hargrave and Milton Williams. It’s a group that suddenly became that much more impactful with the addition of Davis.
“I knew the Eagles were interested in me,” Davis said. “They were one of my three top 30 visits, so I was already at the (NovaCare Complex) and I saw how it looks and saw all of the staff, and I was just excited to be there.
“(The Eagles) liked how I was as a defensive player and they thought I could be a great addition to the d-line. You have guys like Fletch and Hargrave, guys I watched growing up, I want to be an addition to help the team. I just want to do anything I can to help.”
Davis will be reunited with Eagles’ defensive line coach Tracy Rocker, who recruited Davis to Georgia when he coached there. He also said he likes patterning his game after Cox.
“I always liked just how dominate he was,” Davis said. “He put in a lot of work to get where he is now. If he can do it, I feel I can do it. I’ll soak all of the information and soak all of the teaching that he’ll give me. He’s a vet and he’s well respected not just on this team but across the league. So, anything he says and any knowledge that he drops, I just want to soak it up like a sponge.”
If there was a knock on Davis, it was his ability to get up field and pressure the quarterback.
He’s aware of it.
“My gets off are getting faster and I’m getting after the QB; I’m working bags and I’m willing to learn,” Davis said. “You have great guys in the defensive room that can teach little tools, teach you a lot of things. Also, schematically, we’re a little similar in what we were doing at Georgia.
“So, it’s like going into the same place with the same playbook. It’s just different terms. It’s going to be a smooth transition. It’s just getting in that playbook and learning the nuances of the game.
“Being a run defender is where my bread-and-butter is. That’s the first thing I learned at the University of Georgia. Run defense and being stout in the middle and making sure I can get out and get off being an athlete and make a play.
“Being selfless, not selfish. It takes a lot of selflessness to take two defenders so your linebackers can run free and your safeties can come down and crack the B gap. It’s one of those things I learned along the way that I want to continue carrying with me.”
There was a feeling entering the draft that Davis was being targeted by the Eagles.
“In the Eagles’ defense, they have a race-to-the-quarterback philosophy. Jordan is a hard man to stop when he gets going,” said Chuck Smith, Davis’ personal training coach in an exclusive with Bleeding Green Nation on Thursday. “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.”
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.