2020 NFL Draft: SEC Summer Seniors – Alabama DT Raekwon Davis

The dog days of summer are upon us. What better time to jump into some film and evaluate the senior 2020 NFL Draft prospects of the SEC.

Entering the 2018 college football season, the Alabama Crimson Tide were relying on a dominant defensive tackle to make-up for the annual talent lost to the NFL Draft. Eyes focused on junior Raekwon Davis. Coming off an All-SEC sophomore campaign, Davis looked like yet another first-round defensive lineman from the factory of Alabama. However, instead of the 2019 draft, the 2020 NFL Draft became his best bet at possibly continuing the trend.

Months later it was not Davis but his teammate Quinnen Williams that would continue the legacy of Crimson Tide defensive talent entering the NFL. Davis chose a surprising route – opting to return for his senior season. Some pointed to a rocky junior season, one where his play fell off. Davis, in his statement via Twitter, claimed to have “unfinished business.”


Davis will be the first up in this series of evaluating senior NFL Draft prospects from the SEC from the Pro Football Network draft page. This series will look at strengths, weaknesses, and an initial summary based on the knowledge we have entering the 2019-20 college football season.

Attributes

Height: 6’7″

Weight: 316 lbs

Strengths

Davis is another versatile, uber-talented defensive tackle from the University of Alabama. The first tape that was popped in was against the Georgia Bulldogs during the 2018 National Championship. Then sophomore Davis started the game at strong side defensive end before bumping inside to strictly defensive tackle. In that game alone, there was not a technique or alignment that Davis was not thrown into. At his best, he plays over the center or guard. That is where Davis’ strengths can come into play.

Look at how easily he can stack the blocker, and eventually throw him off to make a play. Davis has rare physical gifts with his length and size.

Another element to love about his game is how quick his hands are. Even in the situation highlighted below where Davis isn’t necessarily attacking for a pass rush. He reads that it is a pass and executes a beautiful move to get to the quarterback.

Finally, and perhaps his best strength is just how good of an anchor he has. Being able to stack and shed is one thing. Davis, though, makes it his mission to stall any offensive lineman in his way. The same goes when he is doubled. Ole Miss tried to double him, and even though they got some movement, Davis made the play. Not only did he make the tackle but he played impressive team defense by keeping the tackle looking to help and then get to the linebacker latched onto him. Subsequently, Davis and the linebacker made the play.

Weaknesses

Davis is not a perfect player, especially given his 2018 step-back from dominance. The biggest head scratcher is his alignment. Sometimes he is a full yard off the ball in his three-point stance. He makes up for it with his anchor on plenty of occasions, but too often it takes him two steps to get into an offensive lineman. This is a small detail that if changes can go a very big way.

In the same vain, Davis is catching blockers rather than attacking them. When he fires off the ball, he plays with leverage, staying low. However, there are times where he instead chooses to play passively. This could be scheme related, but given the others on the defensive line firing out, I doubt it. The clip below shows both his poor alignment and fondness of catching blockers.

Finally, Davis was suspended for a half of a game for his ejection in a game against Missouri for throwing a punch. This was a bonehead move on his part. As far as I can tell that is his only incident like this and is likely not a referendum on his play style or off-the-field behavior. That said, it still will not stop Davis from getting questions about his behavior.

Summary

Davis would have likely been a first-round pick in a loaded defensive line class of the 2019 NFL Draft. By going back to school, he enables himself to secure his spot as the top interior defensive lineman during the 2020 NFL Draft instead of battling his former teammate and Ed Oliver for that honor.

Entering his final season Davis needs to work on his aggressiveness and first step. He is light years away from the top draft prospects in those areas. Where Davis shines is often where others fall; dominating the run game. Davis is an elite run defender with a stout anchor and stack/shed ability.

His final season at Alabama will be a test. He’s surrounded by an exciting collection of players but needs to show he can dominate again. 2018 was a down year after his impressive 2017. 2019 will be more like two years ago where he showed a skill set many thought warranted a top-10 selection. When it is all said and done, he should continue the tradition of first-round defensive tackles from Alabama in the 2020 NFL Draft.

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