The Cincinnati Bengals made more draft maneuvers that we have become accustomed to, but they continued to amass talent on Day 3. And, with their second pick in the sixth round, Zac Taylor’s crew went to re-stock one of the club’s weakest position groups.
Auburn’s Deshaun Davis was the pick at No. 210 overall, and while he has some limitations, he does bring a handful of great attributes to the Bengals’ defense.
What Davis brings to the Bengals
Physicality: If you’re looking for an old school, thumping middle linebacker, then Davis is your guy. He is good at diagnosing a play, shooting into a lane and making the tackle with frequency. His 29.5 tackles for loss over the past four years bode well for a Bengals defense that needs improvement.
Leadership and motivation: If you want to hear about a guy who has had a chip on his shoulder, you should research Davis. One of his middle school teachers apparently told him he’d be dead or in jail by the time he was 18.
Instead, Davis parlayed his abilities into a football scholarship at one of the premiere college programs and was drafted into the NFL. Zac Taylor has wanted high character guys in this class, and few have the story that Davis does as he becomes a pro.
Why the Bengals selected Davis
Depth: The linebacker group was the weakest position group for the Bengals coming into this weekend and they addressed it twice in the middle/late rounds. Throw in the fact that two starters (Vontaze Burfict and Preston Brown) ended the year on Injured Reserve, and one can see why the positional need was so pressing this season.
Davis was a linchpin on the Tigers’ defense and had some outstanding production as a senior. As the team likely looks to rotate players in and out of the lineup to mix up looks, Davis looks to be the improved replacement for players like Brandon Bell and Hardy Nickerson, Jr.
Headiness: What Davis lacks in metrics, he makes up for with high football intelligence. Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn bestowed major leadership and defensive captain responsibilities to Davis and he didn’t disappoint in any respects. Davis used great angles and his ability to read offenses to put himself in position to make a number of plays.
Production: Despite his poor testing in pre-draft workouts, Davis’ tape shows quite a bit of great plays and overall statistical numbers. In 2018, Davis had 112 tackles (57 solo) with 15 for loss and two passes defended. He didn’t make many “wow” plays, but was steady and forceful in his approach to the game.
Run defense: In case you hadn’t heard, the Bengals were atrocious against the run in 2018. While Davis doesn’t make a ton of “splash plays”, he should help bring stability to a unit that needs to tighten up tackling and their ability to stop the run. This is incredibly paramount for Cincinnati in the years ahead, given the multitude of running back talent in the division.