How to identify the next breakout NFL superstar

How to identify the next breakout NFL superstar

NFL Draft Profile: D.J. Davidson, Defensive Lineman, Arizona State Sun Devils

NFL draft profile scouting report for Arizona State defensive lineman, D.J. Davidson
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#98
Pos: DL
Ht: 6050
Wt: 325
DOB: _/_/_
Eligible: 2022
Mesa, AZ
Desert Ridge High School

D.J. Davidson
Arizona State Sun Devils


Pros:

Smith: Davidson is a powerful player at 6’3” and 325 pounds. That shows up quite often on the tape. He’s got 33-inch arms that often aid him in getting a well-timed punch on his opponents that jar them off-balance. He’s got terrific strength in his hips that he can roll forward to drive his man backward or rotate to throw his man to the side. His thick lower half also shows up in more ways than one. Once he gets into a blocker, he uses impressive leg drive that can even move double-teams in the opposite direction. He also sinks well to absorb double teams that try and drive him, rarely budging a bit. In general, Davidson plays with good pad level and fires out of his stance low with good burst. He also pursues well for a player his size. At 325 pounds, he will chase plays to the sideline and downfield and should turn some heads with his 40-yard time. Against the run, he’s just as effective driving his man backward to force the runner to change his approach or stacking up blockers to jam up the middle. He will also work down the line of scrimmage against perimeter plays and does a good job staying square to the line. Against the pass, he collapses the pocket well and looks for the quarterback to try and step into an escape lane. He will occasionally use a quick lateral move off the snap with a powerful swipe to get a free run at the passer, but it’s rare.

Cons:

Smith: While Davidson may have surprising straight-line speed, his lateral movement is a different story. He can sometimes catch a blocker off guard because he’s preparing for a bull rush, but it’s not much of a task for players to mirror him if he decides to go around a block instead of through it. Also, while he gives great effort when he’s fresh, he will need to be part of a rotation in the NFL. That’s not uncommon for a nose tackle, and it’s actually a credit that he averaged more than 50 snaps a game in 2020, according to Pro Football Focus. Still, when he’s gassed, his leg drive disappears, as does his willingness to pursue. His ideal role in the NFL would be as a nose in the base defense or short-yardage situations while being a last option in pass-rush packages. That should put him on the field a much more manageable 30-40 snaps a game. He also has to be careful with his power. There are times where he gets a player moving backward and gets tunnel vision. He’ll lose sight of the ball and take himself out of the play, and in some circumstances, blockers use his momentum to sink one shoulder backward in order to get him turned. Once he’s re-established the line of scrimmage with his initial surge, Davidson needs to lock onto the ball. Another major area he needs to improve is his hand activity. He’s got a strong punch, but he doesn’t fight to keep the blocker's hands off him. Just because the opponent is going backward doesn’t mean he’s not attached. When the ball carrier is within reach, it’s too late to break free of the blocker. He’s got to do a better job of keeping the blocker’s hands off him with swats, clubs, or just locking them out. With arms that measure 33 inches, it shouldn’t be much of a task to settle your momentum and lock them out.

Summary:

Smith: Davidson’s game is mainly about his power, pad level, and size. He’s got a tremendous skill set for a nose tackle, and playing in a two-gap system should be a perfect fit thanks to his strength and 33-inch arms. He won’t offer much against the pass, but he can be a starting nose tackle in the NFL as he gets more polished with his hands and eyes.

Background:

A three-star athlete who signed with Central Florida, Davidson, qualified late to attend and didn’t enroll. A year later, the Mesa native chose to stay in-state and play for the Sun Devils. He enrolled during the spring of 2017 and redshirted the following fall. In 2018, he contributed earlier and was receiving more and more playtime until he suffered a season-ending ankle injury. The following year, he started 12 of 13 games, recording at least one stop in each outing as he collected 51 for the season. He continued at that pace in 2020’s shortened season and will return as a graduated senior this year. Davidson received his degree last spring in Criminology and Criminal Justice.


One-Liners

Smith: He’s got a terrific skill set for a nose tackle, and playing in a two-gap system should be a perfect fit thanks to his strength and 33-inch arms.

Grades

Current Player Value/Potential Player Value

Smith: 6.7 / 8.3


#98
Pos: DL
Ht: 6050
Wt: 325
DOB: _/_/_
Eligible: 2022
Mesa, AZ
Desert Ridge High School

D.J. Davidson
Arizona State Sun Devils


Pros:

Smith: Davidson is a powerful player at 6’3” and 325 pounds. That shows up quite often on the tape. He’s got 33-inch arms that often aid him in getting a well-timed punch on his opponents that jar them off-balance. He’s got terrific strength in his hips that he can roll forward to drive his man backward or rotate to throw his man to the side. His thick lower half also shows up in more ways than one. Once he gets into a blocker, he uses impressive leg drive that can even move double-teams in the opposite direction. He also sinks well to absorb double teams that try and drive him, rarely budging a bit. In general, Davidson plays with good pad level and fires out of his stance low with good burst. He also pursues well for a player his size. At 325 pounds, he will chase plays to the sideline and downfield and should turn some heads with his 40-yard time. Against the run, he’s just as effective driving his man backward to force the runner to change his approach or stacking up blockers to jam up the middle. He will also work down the line of scrimmage against perimeter plays and does a good job staying square to the line. Against the pass, he collapses the pocket well and looks for the quarterback to try and step into an escape lane. He will occasionally use a quick lateral move off the snap with a powerful swipe to get a free run at the passer, but it’s rare.

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