06 Aug Preseason Scouting Notes: Shawn Davis, S, Florida
Senior | 5’11” 185 lbs | Miami, FL
An undersized and very smart free safety who shows good range and ball skills, but needs to bulk up and improve as a tackler
Shawn Davis came to the University of Florida as a 3-star recruit and cut his chops as a true freshman as a core special teams player. As a sophomore, Davis stepped into a contributing role at safety and showed enough promise to be promoted to a starting role his junior year. He primarily lined up as the deep safety in one-high, and as the field side safety in two-high for Florida’s 3-4 defense, occasionally buzzing into the box or aligning in the slot.
– Good combination of route recognition and the ability to read the quarterbacks eyes allows him to get a good jump on intermediate and deep routes in zone and off man
– Shows adequate range in coverage to play single-high at the NFL level
– Turf eater in downhill pursuit. High-end straight line speed when he has a head of steam
– Takes efficient, smart pursuit angles
– Flashed high-end ball skills. Has the ability to undercut routes with closing speed and and a good sense of timing to get a hand on the ball
– Physical enough as a run defender to play in the box on occasion. Eager to fill the alley in run support and likes to throw himself into the pile
– Sneaky as a blitzer. Times things up nicely and disguises his intentions well
– A good communicator and solid back-end leader who calls out formations and helps his teammates with their alignment
Areas to improve:
– Often throws his body below the strike zone as a tackler and bounces off players with good contact balance
– Rarely shows the ability to wrap and roll as a tackler. Doesn’t have the necessary play strength to do so against stronger ball carriers
– Will have to add bulk to play in the box consistently at the next level due to his undersized frame. Simply no match for offensive linemen and bigger tight ends while defending the run at this point
– Has a bizarre tendency to go up for the ball in traffic with only one hand
– Will slow his momentum down to catch tackle opponents at times, allowing them to become the aggressor
– While he is a relatively twitchy reactionary player, his tendency to false step holds him back a bit in pursuit and click and close situations
– (2018) Missed the first four games of his sophomore season with a knee injury
While Davis has the potential to become a versatile safety who can play deep or in the box, a lack of play strength and some tackling issues currently stand in his way of doing so. And at this point, Davis projects to be a depth option for a team needing a single-high free safety who can also contribute on special teams. Look for a team that runs a primarily single-high to overlook Davis’ lack of size in favor of his speed and intellect, targeting him in the mid-portion of Day 3.
What to watch in 2020:
If Davis adds play strength and in turn becomes a better tackler, it will quell some of the concerns about his ability to be a 3-level impact player. With his future role in the NFL likely to come as a backup and the roles of safeties becoming more blurred, Davis will have to prove he can hold up occasionally in the box to carve out a long career unless he becomes a true special teams ace. Additionally, it would be nice to see Davis get more reps in man coverage out of the slot. A good showing in the slot this season could boost him into late Day 2 discussion.