Carl Davis, Nose Tackle
Height: 6050 - Listed
Weight: 315 - Listed
Games watched: vs Ohio State (2013), vs Michigan (2013)
Strengths: Davis, despite playing at a listed 6'5, plays with outstanding leverage from an interior line position. Frequently the attention of multiple blockers on the inside, Davis is a handful to generate movement against at the point of attack. Davis is a prototypical 3-4/4-3 NT in the way he plays the game but don't confuse him for strictly a space eater. Davis has an outstanding motor and consistently gives full effort not just in holding the point but even going so far as to flash near the numbers on bubble screens if the receiver makes enough moves getting up field:
This is house money for the Hawkeyes, no one is asking Davis to be out 2/3rd of the way to the sideline chasing after screens; but there were a number of times Davis actually helped clean up tackles out this far towards the boundary.
As to be expected, Davis carries quite a bit of power behind his hands and once he gets a little bit of forward momentum going; he can easily walk back an offensive lineman on roller skates.
You can clearly see Davis get up underneath the Center's pads off the snap and as he extends his hands forward (plus note for hand technique) he simply drives his blocker a good 2-3 yards right back. It's a good thing that was a moving pocket, otherwise Devin Gardner would have had the Center in his lap very quickly. This kind of raw power was put on display early vs. Michigan and shortly afterwards the Wolverines consistently dedicated 2 lineman to blocking Davis in an effort to control his power. Of course NT value isn't measured by their pass rushing penetration and Davis frequently spent the better part of the game without getting into the backfield; but rather occupying blockers. When he can still impact those downs with batted passes at the line, it is again, just another plus in versatility department within his specific 1 TECH role:
At 6'5; Davis has the ability to knock down balls, close throwing lanes and alter arm angles...effectively impacting passing plays without ever being a threat to register sacks. This adds value for teams and incentive to not necessarily consider him a passing down liability. He can also eat blocks to open blitz lanes, so there's merit to keeping him on the field in those situations as well.
But of course, as a NT his interior run defense is going to be the premium skill to look for. Davis (provided he's asked to do what he does well) doesn't disappoint. Against Ohio State; Davis does a great job "following his Guard" and quite nearly pulling down Carlos Hyde for a 2 yard loss.
Davis doesn't quite have the burst to finish this play, but you can't ask for anything else out of your Nose Tackle than to execute a textbook swim move over top of the down block by the Center to get depth into the backfield and then slide laterally along the line to at least disrupt the play. He's coming all the way from the opposite A gap to influence off tackle. It's an impressive display of understanding and reading the blocks, plus execution to put himself in a position to make a play if the original hole is sealed.
A little later in the 3rd quarter against Ohio State; Davis displays the kind of short yardage penetration ability that will make scouts' mouths water.
Don't be misled by the fact that Miller pulls this ball and keeps it off the right edge for a new set of downs. Focus on Davis a full yard into the backfield (and deeper than any of his teammates for that matter) and bottling up essentially both A gaps in the backfield. This is a great job of "resetting the line of scrimmage" and if Miller does give this ball to Carlos Hyde, Hyde runs into the back of his own lineman 2 yards behind the original line of scrimmage. It's a great effort to shut down the inside run against a power run team.
A final thought on Davis; I'll leave you with this following thought from Twitter. Here's the play in question:
Takes a grown man to lock up w Guard w 1 arm, bring down a downhill Braxton Miller w other: http://t.co/03ZDPrU9Fk pic.twitter.com/ksBvq1KpXS
— NDT Scouting, KMC (@NDTScouting) September 23, 2014
Weaknesses: As you may expect with a NT prospect; Davis isn't necessarily very explosive outside of his handwork. He doesn't move particularly well laterally. These aren't negatives about him; it comes with the territory and they just need to be mentioned to understand who he is as a player. Davis is very much a linear player; once he gets moving in a direction odds are he isn't going to be able to readjust.
Davis here has finally gotten his weight going forward; but there's no action left in the back field. In a perfect world, Davis is able to read this block and cross the face of the RG to get some width down the line of scrimmage. But again, it comes with the territory. Davis occasionally struggles with leverage as well; playing the interior at 6'5 leaves some vulnerability for blockers to get under his pads.
However, the silver lining with Davis is he has the functional strength to play tough and hold his ground; even if he's been outgunned with leverage. But it is something to pause for, interior line play will only get better at the next level so he's going to need to get more consistent with where he is height wise when initiating contact.
Recap: Carl Davis isn't a versatile chess piece to be moved around to attack offenses, but he IS a linchpin of 1 Tech NT play that can be used in either a 3-4 or 4-3 base defensive alignment and in that role, he can truly help dictate how offenses call their blocking schemes. Davis has too much power be be contained with a Center on a regular basis. He's also a great effort player, willing to venture outside of the trenches towards the boundary when he's not being eaten up by multiple blockers and when he can find the ball. He may not consistently get there, but you can't ask him for anything other than what he gives. Davis has good size and offers just enough ability in the passing game that he could be a 3 down player from the NT position and still impact throws despite a lack of explosiveness with his lower half to win pass rushing situations.