Carl Davis: Ravens’ Future Star, or Future Bust?


Sep 6, 2014; Iowa City, IA, USA;Iowa Hawkeyes linebacker Quinton Alston (52) and defensive lineman Carl Davis (71) celebrate a fourth quarter stop against the Ball State Cardinals at Kinnick Stadium. Iowa defeated Ball State 17-13. Mandatory Credit: Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

Carl Davis is a classic example of a guy whose talent and potential is unquestioned, yet he fell all the way to the third round of the 2015 NFL Draft because of questions regarding his motivation.  For NFL teams, this type of pick comes with a high level of risk/reward.

If the rumors prove to be unsubstantiated, the Ravens selection of Davis will be viewed as a steal.  If they are true, he could find himself slapped with the dreaded “bust” label.

First, let’s take a look at what scared all 32 teams from taking a potential first rounder until late in the third.  Charlie Campell at Walter Football runs an entire series each year on why players slide in the draft, and he reaches out to every NFL team to try and find out what scares them away from drafting players with question marks.

There was never any question about Davis’ abilities.  He dominated at the Senior Bowl, practiced well leading up to the draft, and he was productive as a second year starter in 2014.  The problem, and ultimately what caused Davis to slide so far, stemmed from comments he made to teams leading up to the draft, as Campell reported.

"Sources with teams said that Davis fell in the 2015 NFL Draft because of his poor attitude and work ethic. Davis demonstrated poor work ethic and practice habits at Iowa and was open to teams about that. He said he didn’t try hard in practice because he was concerned that enthusiastic scout-team blockers would get him injured as they tried hard to move up the depth chart. He also told teams that he would need to sit out about half the plays per game in order for him to be effective in his other snaps. Teams told Davis that he needed to do a complete 180 with his interviews before the Combine and pre-draft visits, but the damage was already done. His game tape and production reflected his approach of taking himself out of games and not playing 100 percent all of the time."

If true, you can’t blame teams for turning a little sour on Davis.  It’s understandable that a college player headed for the pro’s would be worried about injury, but the competition in practice at the NFL level is only going to be harder.  And most guys want to play 100% of the snaps, not 50%.  That comment might just be the biggest red flag of all.

But will it matter?  We oftentimes forget that these are young men who are still maturing and learning to be professionals.  Most of us say and do things that ultimately turn out to be mistakes early in our professional careers.  Following his slide in the draft, Davis seemed a tad more motivated by the slight.

"“It’s ridiculous. … I’m so motivated right now because I was expecting to go somewhere,” Davis said on a conference call with Baltimore reporters. “I feel like I’m one of the best defensive tackles in this year’s draft. I’ve seen a lot guys that got picked ahead of me, and that’s a chip on my shoulder. When I got a chip on my shoulder, there’s nobody that can stop me. I feel like I’m that much of a dominant player.”“When I slid all the way down to the third round, I was really down.  I was still confident. I still knew who I was as a player. But I just didn’t know what was the reason for this. It was out of my control. It’s my job to make every other team regret not taking me early.”"

The Ravens, so far, seem to be impressed and unconcerned about Davis.  Along with fellow defensive rookies Tray Walker and Za’Darius Smith, defensive coordinator Dean Pees had nothing but good things to say about the big man following OTAs.

"“You know what, I’d put them all in kind of the same boat,” said Pees. “They all are doing very, very well. They’re all what we thought they were when we drafted them. We are not disappointed in anybody. We think we had a great draft class, and I still feel that way.“We have tremendous competition right now on this defense, more than I’ve ever seen across the board at a lot of different spots. There is always kind of … I think in years past [there has] been some kind of givens with certain guys that that’s going to be it. There’s a lot of competition, which is making camp a lot more fun, a lot more competitive.”"

My take on the situation is this – the Ravens are the perfect fit for Carl Davis, whether or not the concerns about him turn out to be true.  He is going to play in a rotation, most likely seeing action on run downs.  He will probably play 50% or less of the defensive snaps in 2015.  Davis is also surrounded by veteran leadership and great coaches.

Related: Carl Davis 2015 Rookie Predictions

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Timmy Jernigan proved last season that he has a bright future on this defensive line, but at 6’2″ and 298 pounds, may not have the size to hold up in the run game.  Davis, on the other hand, is a massive mountain of a man at 6’5″ and 320 pounds.  He has the size and strength to occupy multiple blockers and clog up the middle.

And truthfully, that’s exactly what the Ravens need after they traded away Haloti Ngata and brought back Chris Canty in free agency.  Canty might have another year or two left as an effective run stuffer, but they needed to think about the future.  At least right now, the young and angry Carl Davis looks like he might be that future.

Next: Five Ravens Set to Disappoint in 2015

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