By: Will Burchfield
Jarrad Davis finds himself in a unique situation.
The Lions are hoping he can be a leader on defense but the 21-year-old has yet to play a snap in the NFL.
No worries, says the rookie.
“To be honest with you, it’s not really a tough situation. It’s not the same, but there’s some similarities to walking on campus as a freshmen for the first time. You have to come in and you have to earn the respect of the older guys,” Davis said on Friday.
Davis, the Lions’ first-round draft pick last month, went through rookie minicamp last weekend and is eager for OTAs to start next week. He wants to mix it up with the veterans, the proven NFLers, and embrace the intensity of the game at the highest level.
“You’re not gonna come in and raise your voice and talk to an older guy who’s been in the league, doing this for six, seven, eight nine years. You’re not gonna be able to tell them, ‘Hey, this is how we’re gonna do it, this is how things are gonna go.’ You can’t do that, you have to evaluate constantly,” Davis said. “We’re getting evaluated as rookies, but by the same token I’m doing the evaluation, too. I’m seeing what guys are doing, I’m seeing how guys work, I’m seeing what makes a guy go, I’m seeing what makes a guy upset and kind of shut down a little bit.
“I’m working every little piece of the game and every little aspect of my mind to make sure that I know how to address my teammates and how to push them when it’s time for me to step up and take that role.”
This kind of relationship-building was something Davis did a lot at Florida. As a middle linebacker and defacto leader of the defense, he knew it was important to have an intimate feel for each of his teammates.
“I was there with a lot of guys for four years. When we go out and hang out as a team, as a unit, we’re able to see how each of us acts in different situations. You can kind of tell, okay, if this guy’s having a bad day I can come up and talk to him like this and maybe this will get him to click and get him going,” he said. “It just takes time.”
Davis figures to start the 2017 season at middle linebacker for the Lions. He has all the tools to make an impact in this role, including the leadership instincts and the take-after-me personality.
“You hear everybody say that position is like the quarterback of the defense. To be able to play that position you have to make sure that you’re on top of your game in every phase of the game, whether that be in meeting rooms, in recovery, in the weight room or maybe how you wake up in the morning and put your pants on. They say everybody puts their pants on the same way, I might be a little biased. I put my pants on a little different than everybody else. I’m not going to tell you how — nah, I’m just messing with you, man,” Davis said with a laugh. “But it’s huge.
“You gotta have good personality, you gotta be able to attack that position because you’re not just going out there playing for yourself. You’re playing for your brothers and you gotta make sure that you can lead them when they get in tough positions.”
Davis knows it will take time to step into that kind of role with the Lions. He has plenty on his own plate at the moment.
“I have to make sure that I get everything that’s in front of me taken care of. After that’s done,” he said, “I’ll be able to work on other things and make sure that everybody else is on point.”