I didn’t get the chance to complete this break down by Friday (my bad) but I still wanted to get this out there. I’m a big fan of this year’s linebacker class but Akeem Davis-Gaither really catches my attention.
Appalachian State is no longer that ‘out of nowhere’ FCS school that beat Michigan a few years back. They now play in the Sun Belt conference and have put out solid prospects into the NFL.
Davis-Gaither is listed at 6’1″ 224 pounds, which is considered a bit undersized for the edge rusher position, but he’s a gifted athlete. While he lined up as a 3-4 outside linebacker mostly for the Mountaineers, he did see plenty of reps as an off-ball WILL linebacker too. That versatility will catch an NFL defensive coordinator’s attention.
He doesn’t blow me away with speed off the edge but his bend is freaky. There are a few times where he’s caught rushing the passer without a plan and is left useless, but more times than not he’s showed superior athleticism when rushing off the edge.
Here’s a video breakdown of his strongest attributes as well as some weaknesses.
Davis-Gaither could use some coaching up on his tackling technique in the open field and some teams are going to be turned off when they watch him go around blockers in the run game. He plays in an unconventional fashion and because of that he doesn’t have a set position, which may turn some traditionalist teams away.
But for progressive defensive coordinators, I think he’s an athlete you’d love to have on your team. He can bring a change of pace when rushing the passer, play nickel linebacker with the athleticism to cover shallow zones and he can hold his own in the run game.
Teams will probably ask him to bulk up some but not to the point where he loses his bend because that is his best trait. If he works on his tackling technique I can see him being a valuable 2nd-4th down defender in the NFL. My guess is he will be drafted on day two of the draft between picks 85-100.
Watching his style of play reminds me of a ‘poor man’s’ Isaiah Simmons. No he’s not going to line up at boundary corner or play safety but Davis-Gaither is extremely versatile in his own regards too. If he goes to a team like the New England Patriots, Pittsburgh Steelers, Cincinnati Bengals or Chicago Bears, watch out!