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NFL Draft Profile: Akeem Davis-Gaither could be the steal of the Bengals’ draft

Prior to the news about his stress fracture, the draft stock of this Appalachian linebacker was hot, hot, hot! Now, he can be a mid-round answer to one of the Bengals’ biggest roster holes.

Appalachian State v North Carolina Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images

Many in the draft community thought Akeem Davis-Gaither was bound to be an early day two pick until a stress fracture in his foot threw a wrench in his pre-draft process. Now he could be a steal for the team that is willing to take a chance on him. Could that be the Bengals? Let’s see how he would fit.

Akeem Davis-Gaither


Appalachian State

Height: 6-1

Weight: 224 draft profile

Pros: Davis-Gaither is a versatile linebacker who plays mainly on the edge, but is frequently split out over a slot receiver. He has shown the skills to play in the box, but was primarily used outside.

As for movement skills, he’s got those in spades; demonstrating good speed, agility, and quickness. He shows excellent effort and makes plays all over the field. Davis-Gaither is an excellent tackler, who uses good technique and is highly aggressive. He looks good in coverage, reading the quarterback and making quick breaks.

Cons: Davis-Gaither has a tendency to run around blocks and struggles to disengage when a lineman gets his hands on him.

He can use his speed to rush the passer, but he is not truly a pass rusher. He lacks the technique and strength to consistently pressure the quarterback. Davis-Gaither often wins by shooting inside of an oversetting offensive lineman, which unfortunately creates an escape route for a mobile quarterback.

Red Flags: Played with a stress fracture in his foot in 2019, that required surgery after the season.

NFL Comp: Shaquem Griffin

Bengals Fit: He has the skill set to play inside linebacker, but could also be used as an off-the-ball outside linebacker in base defense and change-up pass rusher.

Draftability: Davis-Gaither’s stock was rising steadily and was expected see a massive spike after testing at the NFL Combine. Unfortunately, his foot injury prevented him from working out at the combine. As a result, he may make him slip and be a potential steal on day three.

Summary: Davis-Gaither was essentially an edge in Boone, but projects better off the line of scrimmage in the role of a rocked down safety. He has limited experience in the box, but has demonstrated many of the required skills as an off-the-ball linebacker playing outside of the box.