There are plenty of things Jamin Davis will need to learn as he navigates through his rookie season, but athleticism is not one of them.
After all, that's partly what caused his draft stock to shoot from a mid-round projection all the way up to the middle of the first round. Aside from his 100-plus tackles in his only season as a consistent starter, Davis put up gaudy numbers during his Pro Day, including a 42-inch vertical and an 11-foot broad jump.
But to former Washington safety Will Blackmon, Davis' 4.41 official 40 time might be the most important, and that's why he loved the team taking him with the 19th pick.
"Especially nowadays in this type of NFL, when you look at the linebackers now," Blackmon said, "They gotta run."
Blackmon is right, of course. Gone are the days of most NFL offenses relying heavily on their ground attack to grind away the clock just to win with two or three scores. That simply won't cut it anymore; now, it's all about putting up points as quickly and efficiently as possible. Washington is attempting to adopt part of that philosophy, too, as three of its top scoring options -- Terry McLaurin, Curtis Samuel and Antonio Gibson -- all have 40 times in the 4.3 range.
The other teams in the NFC East have been following suit as well. The Cowboys have led the league in total yards under Dak Prescott, who is slated to make a return this season. Daniel Jones and the Giants have a new weapon in first-round pick Kadarius Toney, and the Eagles have paired potential starter Jalen Hurts with wideout DeVonta Smith.
Davis has already shown he can hang with speedy options in the run or passing game, seeing that Pro Football Focus’ Michael Renner wrote that Davis showed "some of the best sideline-to-sideline plays of anyone in this draft en route to an 87.5 run-defense grade." And judging by his pick six against Tennessee, he can use that speed to easily separate himself from opponents.
"[Davis has] All the physical attributes you want, had great production last year," Mayhew said. "He checks that box and then he checks the box of being a great football character guy. He fits us, he fits what we're trying to do and he fits our culture."
Being able to keep up with those offensive weapons takes a load of Davis' shoulders. The next step for him is to get adjusted to the professional game. Davis has already been working on that, but Blackmon has an idea that may help the rookie even further.
"They need to lock Jamin in the room, and have him watch Luke Kuechly film all day long," Blackmon said.
Davis could watch all the film he wants, but he still needs to put those tendencies to use on the field. That shouldn't be a problem, either, considering his coaches have already raved about his production. It's another area where his speed is a benefit; linebackers coach Steve Russ knows mistakes are going to happen, but he doesn't want that to come at a sacrifice to Davis playing fast. So, his advice to Davis is to make the mistakes at full speed, and then they'll work to fix them.
"He wants to do well," Russ said. "He knows that when things...aren't the way he wants them to be, he's going to fix them, and he's going to work on it."
Rivera believes Davis can play all three linebacker positions, and that is partly because of the athletic tools at Davis' disposal. Regardless of where he plays, expect his speed to be a problem for any offensive weapon matching up against him.
"I'm just going to go out there and be the best version of myself that I can...and take everything as it comes my way," Davis said.