Are Davis And Smith Future Dolphins Starters?
Little known additions of Davis and Smith are gaining traction and attention
Most Miami Dolphins fans will barely, if at all, recognize the names Jesse Davis and Eric Smith. It’s quite the opposite with the Dolphins staff… and growing number of sportswriters.
First, so you know right off the bat that I’m not bloviating, even Armando Salguero said that Smith might end up taking Ja’Waun James spot by mid season if his health issue doesn’t change. And Omar Kelly highlighted Davis’ pull block against the 1st string Ravens defense that led to chunk yards.
You might say what do sportswriters know, anyway?
Then I’ll counter by saying do you realize the huge amount of snaps both players have received?
To me this biggest tell.
Davis played Left Guard from kickoff until the early third quarter, and then played Left Tackle from the 3rd into the 4th. That’s the entire game! Given the value of live reps this wasn’t done without long-term goals in mind.
Smith came in at the end of the 1st Qtr at Right Tackle and played there till the end of the game. Again, an extended appearance like this has purpose. Of Course, Week 3 will be a far more complete indicator.
Now Davis is the easier evaluation as he faced the Ravens first string for 3 drives and acquitted himself very well. Smith faced some 1st stringers, but most of his snaps came against 2nd stringers and lower. But, the great sign is that he dominated everyone he faced.
It will be huge if Miami can get productive players from the Davis and Smith signings
Nope… this isn’t hyperbole.
Below is a film and play study en masse to prove that my rum and cokes weren’t giving me ‘beer goggles’.
First, let’s look at Davis’ film.
Smith’s study will come in a second article.
Davis displayed point of attack power, technique, and even a fair amount of speed and agility to work the second level.
Below, #77 Davis (6’6” 321lbs) moves both Brandon Williams and Carl Davis with double-team help, mano-e-mano, and in chipping to get to the second level. Given that Williams is 6’1” and 340lbs and has the edge of both leverage and mass, and Carl Davis is big man as well at 6’5” 327lbs, this is no small feat.
Also, as a nice cherry on top, he displays an ability to work smaller and faster opponents on the move.
Here’s a still of the pull block. #77 is the key the RB is reading.
Davis also performed very well in his pass blocking assignments. For a big man he has excellent balance and technique, doesn’t lean or let his base break down, and has his head on a swivel to see the whole blocking picture.
#77 could very well be a steal of talent at the price
The second to last play in this clip is the only time he ‘allows’ pressure, and even in this one, it’s not his fault. He blocks a rusher, then passes him off, chips another blitzer en route to a third blitzer. The RB misses his assignment as can be seen in the pic below with his ‘Uhh-Ohhh’ attempt at putting on the breaks.
In the last play, Brandon Williams offers a bit of respect at the end of a penalty.
I’m certainly not saying Davis’ game is perfect. While he seems to have little problem against strength, I did notice this on one play: OLB Za’Darius Smith made a hard outside move and got an excellent jump causing Davis to nearly whiff in run block. Now, given that this was a stretch run, he could simply have ‘allowed’ Za’Darius Smith run himself out of the play, as the inset on the right hints at. But next week I’ll pay close attention to see if this part of Davis’ game turns out to be a weakness.
Any price per head sportsbook will tell you, the universal rule in the NFL is, the more tape a player has the more likely that player will get exposed.
In summery, Davis’ play at Left Tackle was a notch or two below his play at Guard in Week two, as was his competition. This may be the reason he found his way to Miami in such an unheralded manner. He was signed as an undrafted free agent out of Iowa as a Tackle by the Jets in 2015, but it seems that at that position he doesn’t have the same production.
But I’m here to tell this kid might just have found his home at Guard.
Yes, it’s still early and Week 3 can reveal a lot. But given what I’ve seen from Davis in both Week 1 and Week 2, Davis will not only make the team, he may even end up the starting LG. If Pouncy is healthy, I expect LG to be manned by either Kraig Urbik or Davis. If Pouncey is out for any reason, Urbik will be the starting Center and Davis WILL start at LG.
Lastly, it’s interesting to note that Ted Larsen and Kraig Urbik‘s injury may have actually turned into an opportunity to find a ‘diamond in the ruff’–not saying Davis is a diamond… yet. But it’s sure looking like he’s far more diamond than coal. Then there’s the matter of undrafted Smith who too may not only just make the team, but also end up the starter in the future. That though, is for another article. Go Fins!!!
Edit: mono-e-mono to mano-e-mano. Thanks Jerry Gragg.