Jordan Davis: How the 2022 NFL Draft hopeful who ‘wasn’t supposed to be here’ became a Georgia football icon

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But then again, 6-foot-6 defensive tackles that run 4.78 40-yard dashes don’t usually walk the earth. That’s what perhaps makes Davis such a unique prospect, one who will likely be taken in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft.

Davis arrived at Georgia with little fanfare as a 3-star recruit in the 2018 signing class. Some talent evaluators believed he would succeed as an offensive tackle at the collegiate level. But Kirby Smart always raved about the impact Davis could have on the defensive side of the ball.

He first emerged as a rotational player as a freshman before becoming the starting nose tackle in Georgia’s defense for the 2019 season. From that point on, Georgia fielded one of the best run defenses in college football. Georgia ranked first or second in rush defense in each of the last three years with Davis at the center of it all.

Davis could’ve entered the NFL draft a year ago, with his prowess as a run defender well-established by that point. But he, along with fellow Georgia defensive lineman Devonte Wyatt, both elected to return for one last ride at Georgia, together.

Those two helped establish the tone for the Georgia defense this year. The two constantly required double teams, freeing up Nakobe Dean, Travon Walker and others to make more plays for the Bulldogs. But it all began in the middle with Davis.

Related: ESPN expert: Georgia football to tie record in 2022 NFL Draft, 14 players projected to be taken

Statistically, Davis’ stats don’t scream first-round pick. In his four years at Georgia, he notched just 7.0 sacks. Smart though offered a very easy explanation for that.

“He could have been a three-down lineman for us here,” Smart said. “It’s more about conditioning. When he’s at his top level of conditioning and his best weight, he can play on third down. We’ve got pass rush ability out of the guy.”

As an NFL defender, Davis should still be able to use his massive size and athleticism to clog rushing lanes. His 4.78 40-yard dash was the fastest ever for someone weighing 310 pounds or more. He also authored a 123-inch broad jump, further wowing scouts.

At the next level, the biggest thing for Davis will be how he goes about monitoring his weight. There were times during this past season he played upwards of 350 pounds, limiting his effectiveness as a pass rusher. During the national championship game, Davis was able to get his weight down to 340 pounds, making a winning impact for the Bulldogs as they took home their first National Championship since 1980.

“Pass rush ability and conditioning. I’m working towards that,” Davis said on what his focus has been on this offseason. “You have to keep your knives sharp. You have all the tools in your toolbox, you just have to make sure they work.”

That National Championship further cemented Davis’ legacy at Georgia, one few players will ever surpass. He’s no longer just a beloved Bulldog, but an icon in the state as well. He recently threw out the first pitch at an Atlanta Braves game. To no one’s surprise, it was a strike.

As the confetti rained down in Indianapolis, Davis took note of what he had helped build. He recently received his National Championship ring and felt compelled to show it off to some of the younger teammates, who had yet to receive their own.

“I would definitely say looking on the sideline and seeing everybody hug each other and celebrate with each other,” Davis said on what the national championship meant to him. “It makes it really special because that’s our family and they work so hard for this. we did it for them. We did it for Dawg Nation. We did it for everything. This is for all the glory, and we took it.”

Davis is expected to be taken in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft, with the Baltimore Ravens, Los Angeles Chargers, New England Patriots and Arizona Cardinals all looking for someone who can help improve their run defense.

The Georgia defensive tackle is that guy. He’s supposed to be in the middle of an NFL defense, jamming up opposing offenses. But only after he gives a massive hug to commissioner Roger Goodell on draft night, as Davis was invited to the draft to attend in person.

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