The Florida Gators have had a defensive back drafted to the NFL every year since 2016. Although they don’t have a potential first-round prospect like previous years, Florida safety Shawn Davis should help continue their streak as he heads to the 2021 NFL Draft.
Shawn Davis NFL Draft Player Profile
- Position: Safety
- School: Florida
- Current Year: Senior
- Height: 5’10 5/8″
- Weight: 199 pounds
- Wingspan: 78 1/4″
- Arms: 31 1/2″
- Hands: 9 1/2″
Tony Pauline’s Shawn Davis Scouting Report
Positives: Tough, instinctive safety with solid range. Effectively reads and diagnoses the action, remains patient and keeps plays in front of him. Stays disciplined, takes proper angles to the action, and fires upfield defending the run. Possesses a closing burst of speed and drives his shoulders through ball handlers. Quickly picks up assignments in center field, battles receivers, and goes sideline to sideline.[sv slug=”drizly”]
Negatives: Must sharpen his ball skills. Must do a better job timing his pass defenses. Lacks next-level play speed.
Analysis: Davis is a tough, physical safety who plays smart football, but comes with athletic limitations. While he plays faster and more athletic than his computer numbers, the lack of pure play speed brings limitations. Davis should do very well in a zone system as a nickel safety.
Shawn Davis Player Profile
Although Shawn Davis heads to the 2021 NFL Draft as a safety prospect out of Florida, the versatile defensive back started as a cornerback for Southridge High School. A productive junior, he gave a glimpse of his tackling ability (27 tackles) while showcasing his playmaking skills (2 interceptions).
As a senior, he was a star on a Southridge team that overcame a difficult start to taste success. After starting the season 2-2, they went on to win nine consecutive games and win the 2016 FHSAA Class 8A State Championship.
Despite earning just a three-star ranking from 247 Sports, Davis was a highly-recruited cornerback prospect. Ranked the 43rd-best player in Florida, he held over 25 offers. In addition to local offers from the likes of Florida State and FAU, he was courted by Alabama and Tennessee. His final decision came down to Miami and Florida, with Florida’s coaching staff proving to be one of the key deciding factors.
Shawn Davis’ college football career at Florida
The Florida safety made an immediate impact. The Gators had lost three defensive backs to the NFL Draft, giving Shawn Davis the opportunity to see a significant chunk of game time as a backup defensive back. He made his debut against Michigan, logging 3 tackles while also contributing on special teams. After impressing throughout the season, he earned his first start against FSU to cap off a freshman season that saw him make 11 tackles, 0.5 tackles for loss, and 1 pass breakup.
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Unfortunately for Davis, his opportunity to build on his freshman season would suffer an early sophomore setback. He missed the start of the 2018 season with an injury, losing an entire month of football. However, once he made it back to the field, the Florida safety displayed some disruptive capability. He logged 5 pass breakups and 22 tackles, with tackles for loss against Vanderbilt and Missouri.
Davis has a breakout season as a junior before attracting the attention of Senior Bowl staff
As a junior in 2019, he made nine starts, setting career-highs for tackles (51). He would also secure his first career interception. Davis had waited two years to snag his first interception — and two came at once against Kentucky. Two games later, he had a third pick of the season with a spectacular one-handed grab against Auburn. His performance in that game earned him SEC Defensive Player of the Week honors.
Injuries reared their ugly head again for the Florida safety in his senior season. In the first seven games, he started six, while compiling 40 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, and 2 interceptions. However, he would miss the final five games of the 2020 college football season with an injury. It meant he’d played his last game for the Gators as Shawn Davis declared for the 2021 NFL Draft.
The Florida safety had attracted the attention of Senior Bowl staff through his career and represented the Gators in Mobile. After impressing during practice with an interception, he got himself on the end of an Ian Book “Hail Mary” attempt to secure one final college career pick.
Shawn Davis best fits in the 2021 NFL Draft
Being scheme and position versatile should make Florida safety Shawn Davis a valuable Day 3 pick. He can play multiple roles from the safety position. His aggression as a tackler in the run game means he can play comfortably in the box. He’s also demonstrated solid coverage ability. Additionally, his experience and willingness on special teams should ensure that he sticks on a roster.
With teams gravitating towards having five defensive backs on the field more frequently, versatile defensive backs will always be in demand in the draft. Some teams with a particular need in the secondary who could take advantage of a player like Shawn Davis in the 2021 NFL Draft include the Dallas Cowboys, Minnesota Vikings, Las Vegas Raiders, and Jacksonville Jaguars. However, his versatility makes him a fit for almost all 32 NFL teams.
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