Name: Nate Davis
Position: Interior Offensive Line
While he hails from unheralded UNC-Charlotte, Nate Davis is a physically impressive interior line prospect with a pretty high ceiling for a mid-round talent.
Davis is built perfectly for an NFL guard. While he did play tackle in college, he is probably not tall or long enough to do so at the next level. He does, however, possess a solid frame with a good center-of-gravity for a player his height. Davis’ overall mass may come in a tick below desirable, but he certainly has enough to hold up to pro competition.
Power is Davis’ game. He is strong through his base, utilizing his leg drive to deliver blows and firing his legs to maintain push. When he needs to grab hold, he has the hand strength to maintain his grip inside. Each blow he delivers comes with intent. He follows through his blocks to finish opponents, his punches hit hard and he creates movement thanks to endless aggression. There are very few reps where Davis does not initiate contact and pick up an early advantage. Granted, much of his competition at Charlotte was of lesser caliber, but he showed the same consistent power against Tennessee.
Davis’ legs and strength are his greatest assets as he moves to the next level. On most one-on-one run downs, he explodes out of his stance, delivering the first shot. From there, he fires his legs and hips well to maintain leverage advantage, and his power takes him the rest of the way. See the below clip against Tennessee, how he is unsatisfied with merely holding his ground.
Davis creates movement play after play, whether he is at guard or tackle. He plays nasty and aggressive in gap and power schemes. As a zone blocker, he gets good angles off his quick first step and has enough length to manipulate his man. Davis shines when he gets into space. His quickness is impressive, allowing him to swallow up linebackers at the second level and pull with great effectiveness. While he may have to adjust to some of the more zone-heavy schemes in the NFL, his physical traits would indicate he can be successful in such offenses.
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While he has some lapses in technique, Davis’ quick feet and hands get him where he needs to be in pass pro. He has solid mirroring skills when he stays within himself, though his kick step does not cover quite as much ground as one would like. His punches are good and powerful, even with his relatively short arms. This area can also be a weakness of his, however, since he is occasionally wont to let his hands float low or outside, opening up his chest to the defender. While Davis’ balance is also pretty good, he does tend to over-commit at times. As such, defenders can bait him into opening up the edge or the across-face rush. You can see in the clip below from the Senior Bowl how Davis can get caught off balance, but then how he also has the drive and power to recover.
Overall, Davis has the physical traits one desires from their pass blockers. It is the inconsistency of technique, particularly with his footwork, that worries some evaluators. Some of that can perhaps be explained by his competition. Davis was generally quicker and more powerful than his opponents, so he could get away with fundamental lapses. Some good coaching can get him disciplined, as could commitment to one position. Davis moved in and out at Charlotte, and his work inside was stronger than outside. With development at guard exclusively, Davis has what it takes to be a strong pass blocker.
If we have said it once, we have said it a thousand times: the Vikings are offensive line-needy. While the middle rounds are not the most enticing way to rebuild an offensive line, there are plenty of teams that have constructed elite lines this way. Davis has the physical tools to be an early starter, once he has adapted to NFL speed and a full-time switch to guard. He will need coaching to shore up footwork and hand technique, but the raw traits are worth a strong look in round four or later. At worst, Davis would provide much needed depth, given the Vikings history of injuries along their line.
–Sam Smith is the Managing Editor for Full Press Coverage Vikings and Deputy Editor for Full Press NFL. Like and Follow @samc_smith.
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