By Will Burchfield
When the Lions first-round pick rolled around in this year’s NFL Draft, they had a trio of impact linebackers staring them in the face: Reuben Foster, Zach Cunningham and Jarrad Davis.
They couldn’t go wrong.
In the end, they went with Davis.
Davis, a second-team All American out of Florida, will instantly improve a Lions linebackers corps that was a weakness throughout last season. Gators coach Jim McElwain called Davis “the heart and soul” of his team’s defense in 2016.
Though Davis played in just nine games last season due to an ankle injury, his strong performance when healthy coupled with his dynamite showing at his pro day vaulted him up draft boards around the league.
Said ESPN’s draft analyst Mel Kiper, “Davis is my No. 1 inside linebacker, a day one contributor with athleticism and A-plus intangibles.”
Kiper wasn’t alone in his admiration of Davis’ character.
Said his colleague Todd McShay, “From a talent standpoint, Jarrad Davis is a first-round player. From an intangibles standpoint, he’s top five in the class. I mean, he’s a player that loves the game. You can see the passion and just energy he has for the game when you study him on tape.”
The Lions had a glaring need at linebacker entering the draft, given the release of DeAndre Levy earlier this offseason and the general disappointment of that unit in 2016. Adding Davis is a strong step in filling that void.