I have never been a scout or a NFL General Manager, but I am willing to watch a ton of football. By watching about 200 snaps of each prospect, we can really get a feel for a player and then know what we are talking about a bit better. It is no exact science, but the NFL hasn't quite figured out drafting either, so we are going to do the best we can.
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Carl Davis, DT, Iowa - 6'5, 321 - RS Senior
One of these days, we need to discuss the issues about what positions are considered worthy of what rounds and more importantly, why that is the case. But, to explain how that entire discussion pertains to Carl Davis, we simply look back at the 2013 draft and the argument that ensued in the war-room between the Cowboys brass when it was time to pick or trade down. Scouts wanted the 1-technique (the inside defensive tackle that lines up over the center and gets double teamed each play) Sharrif Floyd from Florida because they had him as a Top 5 player overall falling all the way to #18 where the Cowboys were on the clock. But, Rod Marinelli - just the new DL coach at the time - said not to take him in Round 1 because 1-techniques aren't valued high enough to take in the 1st round. I honestly don't recall a coach ever arguing against taking a player in his own positional group, but it should give us an indication of how seriously they would take this big 1-tech from Iowa. For this study, we looked at his games this season against Pittsburgh, Indiana, and Wisconsin.
What I liked: The problem with 1-techniques in general is that they don't offer much in the backfield and they also don't have much for a pass rush. I think Davis is better than that and it is clear that Iowa thought they could use him as a part time 3-technique, as well. He has very good tight-space quickness and can lose a center or guard right at the snap with a jump that is most impressive. He is also as stout as they come, and you aren't moving him unless you have a real solid double-team block on him. So, you have the best of both worlds in that he is both an anchor against the run, but also a guy who can penetrate and get into the backfield to shut down a play in a hurry. He really controls the middle of the line and also has a swim move and a club that is very useful. This guy is going to be an impressive 1-tech for many years. Very difficult to deal with in short yardage spots. Sometimes he is very good with his hands at keeping people off him, other times he is inconsistent and easily occupied.
What I did not like: I do have a tough time with his consistency and his motor. In both cases, it seems that we are talking about not just flashing a time or two in a game, but rather we want to see excellence over and over. I am also looking for him to swarm to the ball and not just run when he thinks the play is at him. Unfortunately, he is slow to swarm. I know the Cowboys want 11 to the ball, so I have to point down that issue. He is a very big man, so I am looking for quickness outside his circle and to be able to get down the line on a zone stretch and I am not a huge fan of his mobility and quickness from side to side. He is active, but plodding and looks like he is just not very affective if he has to move to make a play (aside from charging forward). There are long stretches of non-productive play.
Summary: So, on one hand, I expect him to be a factor for many years, but I also want to be clear that I don't fancy him as a 1st round pick who is A) without any clear flaws or B) a major upgrade over what the average NFL team has at that spot. He is a very good potentially-starting player who will help the team and improve the rotation quite a bit, but I watched him this week after being asked quite a bit how I feel about taking him at #27. I don't think he is a 3-technique in the NFL and therefore as a 1-technique, he better be pretty special to be a candidate to get into Dallas' 1st round. Eddie Goldman is that type of guy, but from the games I watched of Carl Davis - despite his week at the Senior Bowl that impressed so many - I would value him a round or two later.