A player’s fate can change so quickly and dramatically in the NFL. One season, they represent the future of a franchise and the next, they're deemed expendable.
Jarrad Davis serves as a prime example of this dynamic.
Selected in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft, the former Florida Gators star quickly made a strong transition from college to the pros, emerging as a key figure in the middle of the Lions defense.
He led the team in tackles in just his second season, but injuries kept him out of the lineup for a portion of 2019. Last year, Davis was largely phased out of the rotation, much to his confusion, and the Lions declined to pick up his fifth-year option.
Seemingly out of nowhere, Davis was looking for a new home. Signing with the Jets feels like a new beginning.
“I definitely feel very excited to be here in New York, just with the scheme, with coach Saleh, with the players that are out here right now," Davis told reporters in a press conference last week. "I’m really happy to be able to be on a team that’s young and that’s talented. I’m very thankful to be in this position and for lack of a better term, you could call it a rebirth."
The 26-year-old signed with Gang Green on the first day of free agency, electing not to consider options around the league. It intrigued Davis to move from a 3-4 defense in Detroit to the 4-3 system Saleh planned to implement with the Jets.
He was confident in his fit with the scheme and emphasized that watching the 49ers defense over the past few years inspired him to join Saleh in New York.
“It’s somewhere where I feel like I could truly come and simplify, simplify, simplify, and just truly be [Jarrad Davis] out there," he said. "Let it fly and just not have to worry about anything else.”
The former Lions defensive play-caller will likely slide in next to C.J. Mosley this season, transitioning to more of an outside linebacker role. Although this is an adjustment for Davis, he believes his experience playing in a similar defense at Florida will make the change much easier.
The Georgia native is also relishing the opportunity to play with an established NFL star like Mosley. Davis told reporters that Mosley has already demonstrated his tremendous leadership capabilities.
“Having somebody of his caliber out there, it really helps just naturally set the tone," Davis said. "He’s made a name for himself in this league and just seeing him work allows us to come out there and really raise the bar. It gives us a mark to hit.”
The Jets are hopeful Mosley and Davis can establish a dynamic tandem at arguably the most important position on defense. In order for this to happen, Davis must bounce back from a frustrating 2020 season and return to his early-career form.
With talented players around him and the confidence of the coaching staff, he appears primed for a strong campaign.
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