The New York Jets have added some speed, security, coverage ability, and upside to their inside linebacker room.
The Jets have made their first signing of the free agency period. Former Detroit Lions linebacker Jarrad Davis is coming to New York on a one-year, $7 million deal, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 15, 2021
A 2017 first-round pick (21st overall) of the Lions out of Florida, Davis played 55 games for Detroit over four seasons, starting 45. He will turn 27 years old in November of this year.
Davis started at inside linebacker for the Lions from 2017-19, averaging 60.0 snaps per game. He largely struggled, posting an overall Pro Football Focus grade of 48.3 over that span. In coverage, he allowed a poor average of 8.5 yards per target while posting a PFF coverage grade of 46.8.
However, in 2020, Detroit demoted Davis to a sub-package role in which he played only 23.6 snaps per game (33.6% of the defensive snaps on average), and that served him well. Davis posted a career-high 62.2 overall PFF grade that ranked at the 70th percentile among linebackers. He improved mightily in coverage, ranking at the position’s 86th percentile with a 72.1 PFF coverage grade and placing at the 68th percentile with only 0.84 yards allowed per cover snap. His yards per target average dipped to 7.4, right around the positional average of 7.3.
Davis has been an extremely good blitzer throughout his career. He has 68 pressures on 301 rushes, a 22.6% rate. That number absolutely scorches the 2020 positional average for linebackers (14.3%).
With C.J. Mosley under contract, it was unlikely that the Jets would look to add another big-ticket linebacker to their books, such as Jayon Brown, but the linebacker position was and is a huge need. In particular, coverage ability was needed, and Davis – at least based on last year – gives them that.
Davis provides much-needed security. He can start at WILL beside Mosley if the team does not find a starter in the draft (or if a drafted player isn’t ready). While that may be risky based on his past reputation as a full-time starter, there is the possibility that Davis has found his stride and will be better as a starter the second time around. If the Jets draft a linebacker who is indeed ready to start beside Mosley, Davis can handle the all-important third linebacker role in a 4-3 defense, which would allow him to assume the situational role he thrived in last year.