Monday, March 14, 2011
Size: 6'6, 355
Age: 32, 9/5/78
Drafted: Round 1, Pick 2 - 2001
Experience: 10 Seasons
Salary History and Contract Status - 3/4/2007: Signed a seven-year, $49.6 million contract. The deal contains $18.75 million guaranteed, including a $16 million signing bonus and a $1 million roster bonus in the second year. 2011-2013: $6 million, 2014: Free Agent
2001 Draft Profile From Ourlads.com:2001 - 2nd Rated OL - Leonard Davis - Tackle - Texas - 6'6, 370 - 5.30 - A physically imposing left tackle with a massive upper body, thick legs, and very long arms. Powerful. Explosive at the point-of-attack. Generates movement and seals off well. Mobile but inconsistent when trying to reach block or make contact on the move - goes to the ground too often. Has very good pass protection tools. Light on his feet for a player his size Excellent hand puncher. Has some trouble at times with outside speed but is strong enough to shove a rusher wide. Ducks his head and lunges at times but shows good balance and recovery. Strong in his anchor. Can lock up a defender with his hands. Can shuffle and slide laterally but is lazy at times with his feet - tends to rely on his size and strength too much. Doesn't show a nasty demeanor. Has stamina concerns. A potentially outstanding pro lineman but needs a lot of refinement.
Pre-2010: Leonard Davis was the first player taken after Michael Vick in the 2001 NFL Draft and was billed as the next dominant tackle in the NFL for the Arizona Cardinals. He had tools and projected well as a perfect left tackle - and the biggest dominator ever. However, as we see on a regular basis, big is not always an advantage on the edge in pass rushing situations. Davis was not able to hold the edge because his feet - while quicker than he looked - were no match for the quick edge rushers he would face in the NFL. The Cardinals tried to make him succeed out there (to the level of his $40 million rookie contract), but it never worked. The Cowboys - apparently never intending on him playing tackle anyway, broke the bank by offering him another monster contract, this one worth $49 million over 7 years. Davis immediately slid in to the spot at Right Guard and played at a very solid level in 2007. In 2008, ProFootballFocus.com graded him among the top 20 guards, and Top 10 in Run Blocking. In 2009, PFF said he was even better, with more dominant grades and run blocking skills that showed his exceptional strength. It appeared that he should have been playing guard all along.
2010: This past season, Davis' performance was part of a disappointing year for the entire offensive line. As a unit, they were never able to establish the run for any extended period of time, and Davis conceded 5 sacks from an interior position - more than every full-time guard in the NFL but 2 (Kory Lichtensteiger - Wash and Matt Slauson - NYJ). His worst game of the season and possibly his entire stay in Dallas was against Tennessee where he gave up two sacks to Jason Jones (who finished the season with 3.5 total) and was just poor the entire day. He was even replaced for his poor play in the 2nd Quarter, but his replacement Montrae Holland was hurt later and Davis returned. Most observers agree that his performance was much better in the 2nd half of the season under Jason Garrett and some optimism returned about his future.
2011 Analysis: When Wade Phillips was fired, it was popular to say that the Cowboys needed 3-4 new offensive lineman. Realistically, that is not very likely and the Cowboys are believed to be planning on Leonard Davis again at Right Guard. He is signed through 2013 and will be 33 years old on Opening Day. Surely, he had a down year, but to take him to the trash right now might be a bit hasty. Assuming the Cowboys have a more reliable option at Right Tackle, they can get by with "Bigg" at RG for another season. Where he gets into trouble is when he is left to try to be a dancing bear in space against some of the better interior rushers in the NFL. We saw that last November against Detroit when he was beaten by Ndamukong Suh. However, when he pulls in space and gets in front of a screen, there is still no question that he terrifies defenders in his path. Not the player he was in 2007-2009, the Cowboys will surely try to get some more suitable competition at guard, but unless they find a bargain they cannot refuse, Leonard will add another $6 million to the over-$70 million dollars he has already made from the NFL. Playing guard but being paid like a tackle is a very nice trick he has pulled off, and the Cowboys will hope he returns to 2009 form in 2011.