Photo: Shawn Davis; Credit: University of Florida athletic association
The Indianapolis Colts have undergone vast reconstruction at several positions over the last two offseasons.
Despite all eyes focused on their quarterback spot, jumping from Andrew Luck to Jacoby Brissett to Phillip Rivers to Carson Wentz, the Colts have made significant changes in the secondary for the 2021 season.
Allowing Malik Hooker to head elsewhere in free agency after injuries plagued a promising start to his NFL career, Frank Reich and company decided that Justin Blackmon and Khari Willis were equipped to occupy starting duties in Hooker’s departure.
However, a depth concern was created.
As a result, the 165th overall selection in the 2021 NFL Draft was used to address the issue, acquiring a safety prospect out of Florida in Shawn Davis.
What does Davis bring to the table early on in Indy, and can he provide the adequate secondary depth that the Colts have been looking for?
Hard-hitting and instinctual: Two words to describe the former Florida Gators playmaker in the backend.
Playing in 37 games for the Gators throughout his collegiate career, Davis accounted for a total 126 tackles (5.5 for loss), 10 pass breakups, five interceptions, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery.
Operating as a vital factor in the Gators' top ten defense in 2019, Davis brought an intriguing skill set to the table, one that evidently caught the eye of Indianapolis’ scouting department during their preparation for the 2021 NFL Draft.
Possessing physicality at the point of attack, Davis had the potential to be a tone-setter for the Gators throughout his two years as a starter but struggled to live up to the expectations in 2020 due to inconsistency, especially as a tackler.
Technically sound from a mobility standpoint, Davis has shown solid coverage skills for a safety that can allow him to operate in a double high system but lacks the consistency to do so immediately upon entry to the next level.
Reiterating his talents as a coverage man in the Senior Bowl, Davis would be regarded as one of the highest-rated defenders in coverage (ranked third) according to PFF with a grade of 72.3.
Despite his shortcomings from body composition — standing at 5-foot-10, 199 pounds — and overall athleticism standpoints (outside of ranking in the 89th percentile for his vertical and broad jumps), Davis’ propensity to play bigger than he is allows him to bring juice to the defensive unit.
On occasion, Davis would wow onlookers by making highlight-reel interceptions (most notably against Auburn in 2019) and crushing blows down towards the line of scrimmage no matter who the ball carrier is (Texas A&M 2020), showcasing his talents playing both in the box and dropping back deep.
Set to see time as a special teams ace early on in his professional career, Davis has the upside to be utilized as a box safety as well as in nickel or dime package sets as a coverage man for the Colts with the proper progression.
As a pick made off of potential — and special team experience — Indianapolis hopes Davis can develop in a way that gives them a homegrown depth piece for the foreseeable future in the backend of their defense.