With the 19th pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, the Washington Football Team bolstered its defense by selecting linebacker Jamin Davis.
A complete unknown in NFL circles a year ago, Davis could not be ignored as a redshirt junior this past season. The first-year starter led Kentucky with 102 tackles to go with four tackles for loss, three interceptions (one returned for a touchdown), two pass breakups, 1.5 sacks and a forced fumble.
But it was his physical traits that grabbed scouts' attention. At 6-foot-3 and 234 pounds, he has the size to be stout near the line of scrimmage. Then he ran a 4.47-second 40-yard dash at his Pro Day, showcasing the speed he will use to stay with pass-catchers and run down ball-carriers.
Combine those with his other measurables -- 40-inch vertical jump, 11-foot broad jump and 21 bench press reps of 225 pounds -- and it's no surprise Pro Football Focus tabbed Davis as the most athletic linebacker in the draft. Kiper went a step further, proclaiming him as the potential best off-ball linebacker in his top 25 prospects story. (Davis ranked 14th.)
Despite making just 11 career starts, Davis has shown the intelligence, vision and ball-hawking ability to have success for whichever team ends up drafting him. And while he needs to make some improvements as a tackler and work on getting off blocks, time and instruction will help both areas, especially if he's learning under a pair of former NFL linebackers in Rivera and defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio.
"The fact that he can cover," ESPN NFL Draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. said in his ESPN draft preview call on April 15. "He has great range. He tested out very well. He's very instinctive. He's a really nice player."