For NFL teams looking to improve in all aspects, they must find versatility. Any player that can do more than one job is a name that will be be coveted.
When on the clock with the No. 19 pick, the Washington Football Team went for the versalite selection defensively. Linebacker was one of the few needs WFT wanted to address, so passing on a talent like Kentucky's Jamin Davis was out of the question.
It's that same versatility defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio cannot wait to harness when rookie camp begins.
"We feel like the sky's the limit for him," Del Rio told WashingtonFootball.com's Julie Donaldson. "He's got the ability to play all three linebacker spots. He actually played in the middle in college. We'll put him on the outside."
Every offseason, a player or two finds a way from being a fringe first-round talent to a top 20 selection following the NFL combine or a team pro day. Due to COVID-19, the combine was erased, leading to scouts only trusting the numbers found on campus.
So it was in Lexington where Davis put on a show. The 6'3" linebacker posted an impressive 4.37 40-time before showing agility with his vertical (42") and broad jump numbers (11').
Add that with the 102 tackles,three interceptions, two pass breakups, 1.5 sacks and a forced fumble, what isn't to like?
"We're going to play the best combination of people, but we're really happy about adding a young man with his talents to our defense," Del Rio said.
READ MORE: Dolphins McCain to visit Washington
One thing that was important to both Del Rio and head coach Ron Rivera was the fit within the culture. In less than two years, a culture change has been one of biggest improvements to the D.C. franchise.
In the first year under Rivera, Washington went 7-9, enough to win the division. Part of the reason was due to the structure the former Carolina Panthers boss created with his demeanor in and outside the locker room.
Davis wasn't just a fit to exactly what Washington needed, but also one that would mesh well inside the building.
"He understands our culture, he has a tremendous background, the kind of background that I look for," Rivera said following the selection last month. "Very smart and intelligent young man. …He's what you look for in a football player."
The NFC East is expected to be dotted with good tight ends and wide receivers in the slot. Names like Evan Engram, Kadarius Toney, Dallas Goedert, CeeDee Lamb and Blake Jarwin all can benefit off weak coverage from the linebacker spot.
READ MORE: Seventh-Round Picks Could Fuel The WFT
Far from a finished product, Davis did show high-end skills when asked to play in coverage. Del Rio will see if the same skills will transition over from the Wildcats for the Football Team.
Davis though won't be the only one asked to step up in coverage, third-year pro Cole Holecomb is expected to be more than just a tackler next season.
"I think Cole Holecomb is a litte underrated as being a guy who can do some of that as well," Del Rio said of coverage. "We're happy with the move we made and the linebacking corp we think we can put together.
"We feel confident we've selected a really good player."
It's still too early to say if Davis will transition well to the outside. Should he struggle, that will be fixed in 2022. Veteran Jon Bostic is entering a contract season. Davis could be the long-term option as the team's MIKE.
What's Davis' upside? There's still so much to unpack. He's only started 11 games since arriving with the Wildcats and a COVID-19 season limited his action. Games in the SEC though are basically semi-pro matchups for those who can last at the next level.
Building a defense has been essential under the former linebacker-turned-coach. It's what kept the Panthers successful during the late seasons under Cam Newton.
For now, it's baby steps with Davis. Once he's figured out the playbook, another leader should be commanding attention by the end of 2021.
"We're just gonna ask him to come in here, be a good teammate, go to work and all those things," Del Rio said. "I think you'll see the talent take over once he does that."
CONTINUE READING: Washington Rookie QB Is On The Way (In 2022 NFL Draft)