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June 13, 2013

Davis presents a huge problem for defenses

There's not a lot of film to look at regarding Jordan Davis. That's in large part because he only caught 20 passes last season for 338 yards. However, the interesting part is that despite being rated as a tight end by Rivals.com due to his size, he played outside receiver and in the slot for Clear Lake. Davis is part of a growing trend with spread offenses in that you've got larger guys split out that you would normally see as a close-in tight end. For example, Kyle Allen's Arizona teammate Mark Andrews is 6 foot 6 and 225 pounds and certainly could grow into a tight end. However, he's an outside receiver for Allen.

A&M used Mike Evans in the slot during the spring and we also saw the staff put Cameron Clear in the slot as well. Clear is 6 foot 6 and 270 pounds while Evans is 6 foot 5. We talked about the mismatches that these types of players provide with their ability to outmuscle smaller defenders in the middle of the field, especially nickel backs used to working against sub 6 foot, 200 pound inside receivers. However, if you line them up on the outside, they are facing corners who are far smaller as well. They can outjump for deep passes and get position on them on the shorter routes. Even if they are facing linebackers, they are going to be taller and bigger and still be able to post them up so to speak. The most publicized example of this his how the New England Patriots use their tight ends Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski.

Davis is certainly an example of this new trend. On Davis' first clip, he's a slot who takes a bubble screen that's actually thrown behind him at the ten, breaks the tackle of the first defender that comes up to him five yards down the field, and then barrels into the end zone between two other defenders standing up. Essentially, you've placed a huge guy in space that's going to have a significant size advantage on any defender. As this clip proved, you can throw the ball to him in the red zone and with one block he can do the rest.

In his second clip, Davis lines up outside inside the five yard line. The quarterback rolls to his side of the field and Davis starts inside and then goes outside. The ball is thrown outside and there's nothing the defender can do as he catches it for the touchdown.

On the third clip, he lines up in the slot, works toward the middle of the field, stops at the linebackers, and then starts up again to get past them and between the safeties. The ball is thrown high so it can't be picked off and Davis goes up and gets it for a 15 yard gain. The old saying "even when he's covered he's open" fits this particular play. Other clips show him going downfield and using his size to win deep balls in one on one situations.

Davis is not a guy who's going to get downfield in hurry and explode in and out of his cuts. In addition, you've got to keep in mind that he's young. He still needs to improve his footwork which will make better at getting separation. However, you're dealing with a guy who can line up at any receiver position and whose immense size makes him an automatic mismatch for any defender. In addition, for a guy with his size, he's got great hand/eye coordination. He really looks the ball into his hands and catches with his hands instead of his body. In addition, he's coordinated enough that he can adjust to the ball in the air. You see this in his film on numerous occasions. In other words, he's got freakish ability. There's not too many guys his size that can do those things.

Davis' commitment means that A&M will continue to line up receivers with size and put defenses in a bind. It's going to be hard for teams to man up A&M in the secondary, even if they are trotting out 6 foot plus corners and big linebackers. He'll be able to take short passes and run over them after the catch, outmuscle them for position for throws, and block downfield. In summary, he's just part of an on going evolution in the spread offense that's going to benefit A&M and it's ever growing firepower at the skill positions.


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