This series will feature the top NFL Draft prospects with insight from the beat reporters that covered them in college. This article is just a preview of the full interview which can be heard on the Deep Slant podcast.
Name: Jordan Davis
Position: Defensive lineman
Height/Weight: 6-6, 341
Hometown: Charlotte, NC
Below is a portion of Deep Sidhu's interview with JC Shelton, writer for the UGA Wire and host of the UGA Football Live podcast.
Sidhu: It seemed like everyone from current NFL players to The Rock and everyone in was between tweeting about Jordan Davis and his 40-yard dash time, 4.78 seconds, the fastest 40-time for a Combine participant of 310 pounds or more since NFL Network's been in existence. I know as maybe there's a lot to be made of the 40-time, especially for a defensive lineman. But what were your thoughts on that?
Shelton: That 4.78 should really tell you something. I mean, not only is it the fastest from a guy 310 over, he was 31 pounds over 310, and he's still running a 4.78. I think that's really solidified maybe the ceiling for NFL teams because he's at 340, 6-6. He can take up double teams all day. In the run game, he's one of the best run stoppers in the SEC the last two seasons. We knew this coming in but the questions were his pass rush and a big part of that is speed, agility. His 4.78 just shows you, hey, he can take that leap as a pass rusher when he needs to. And he's been working on that specifically in his technique and getting that he's a young player still, so he can always improve on that. Even moving on to his broad jump, 10-3, that's the best by a 340-plus pound in Combine history by 15 inches. So that's another kind of a tell as in this is what he can do athletically and maybe turn into more of a pass rusher when he gets to the NFL and then 32-inch vertical tied for the best by 340-plus and Combine history. So really like I think it was 100 percentile grades for him in every area.
Sidhu: I don't know if a lot of people are talking about how much weight he had dropped. Davis dropped about 20 pounds. He officially weighed in at 341. He said he played around 360 last year and then he said he preferred playing at 340. That's a that's a pretty stark difference from what he played at last year and he had a really stellar season last year. How much does that surprise you that he wants to play to lighter weight and how do you think that might affect his game?
Shelton: I really don't think it's a big surprise that he played a little bit better at 340 just because the speed is able to come out there, he's able to run a little bit better. So even in a pass rushing standpoint, beyond that, you're tracking, you're going across the field and we saw him run down running backs from across the field a couple of times. One time he was clocked over 20 miles an hour and that was playing at around 350 during the season.
But I know for a fact he's been on a meal plan for the last two years to try to try to keep his weight down and see what he could play like. I think even this season, we know that he was trying to play at a lighter weight to see what he can do and get his pass rush up for the NFL, like he wanted to show teams, hey, I can pass rush as well. I'm not just a guy who can take up double teams and stop the run, which obviously turned out well.
Even at the first part of the season, I want to say the majority of the season up to the SEC championship, he didn't have those QB hurries that you want to see from a pass rush standpoint. He only had, I think five games he had one, another game he had two QB hurries. But then you get to the SEC championship. Alabama comes out and runs hurry-up the majority of the game, which really gassed Georgia's defense, to be honest with you. The players talked about it, the coaches talked about it. They were not able to rotate. That's what Georgia does, we were talking about it with Travon Walker. They rotate guys in and out. That's what they do. So when Alabama had to force those guys to stay on the field, it kind of let especially DTs Devonte Wyatt, Jordan Davis, Travon, know they're out of shape and they didn't know because they weren't forced in that area by a team that season. But Alabama showed them and then Michigan and Alabama in the playoffs. Jordan Davis was dropping that weight. They really focused on conditioning. He had three QB hurries versus Michigan, one of the best offensive lines in Big Ten. And then Alabama, another really talented offensive line, two QB hurries there. I think just him realizing that he could play at 340 was honestly one of the best things for him and that really turned out at the Combine in the Pro Day, you could see the way he was getting his foot quickness down and just overall stride and running those 40 so quickly.
Sidhu: It seems like it would be hard for anybody to stand out on that Georgia defense, but we've talked about how much talent they had. For a guy like Jordan Davis who had four starts as a freshman to playing in the championship game, how did you see his role grow over the course of his four-year career at Georgia?
Shelton: It's an incredible story, to be honest with you, because a three-star recruit, people forget that. So humble beginnings for Jordan, three-star recruit coming into Georgia, a Georgia defense that's loaded year-to-year with four-star, five-star guys, blue-chip guys. From Day One, he's a freshman All-American, SEC All-American as well. So from Day One, he was able to show that he could do this as a three-star recruit coming in.
I think that one, that shows you Georgia can develop like that, but also just the skill that Jordan Davis has and the athletic ability and just the mindset as well. Because a lot of NFL teams, we want to talk about him as a person, his character, how is he going to relate to the team? How is he going to grow as a pro? I can only think of good things from Jordan. You know, as a student at Georgia myself, when Jordan was, I actually had a few classes with Jordan. We were in a small class together. He's funny. He's a funny dude. I'm not going to lie. Honestly. Like what you see in the jokes he makes in interviews, he's very much himself. He's a glowing personality, very outgoing. He's always there for a laugh. I really I didn't see anything that would give me reservations if I was a GM or if I'm a scout talking to him at all. I think he's very much genuine, so I really like that about Jordan. I think that's why he's so popular with not only his teammates and coaches, but really the fan base. I don't think I've ever met anyone that doesn't like Jordan Davis, he's very much himself, and I think that's only going to do great things for moving forward.
Sidhu: I think another entertaining aspect of his game, other than his personality and everything else, is the fact that he's played on offense as well. So how does a guy that big lobby for himself to be put in the jumbo package in goal-line situations?
Shelton: Knowing Jordan, he just bugged the hell out of all those offensive coaches, (OC) Todd Monken, those guys. can just see him now in practice like, 'Hey Coach, let me get let me get a run on that. Hey, Coach, let me get around on that.'
We know that they had worked with him in practice all season on these goal-line packages. But I think it shows another thing about Jordan's personality is that Coach Kirby Smart was like, 'Hey, this guy's about to move on in the NFL as a senior.' Kirby Smart comes in 2016. Jordan Davis is one of those key guys that he's brought up since his tenure and I think to give him that ball shows a lot about just Jordan's personality. Then after that game, he went up and actually led the Redcoat Band, George's band, after that and that band gave him his own his own uniform.