Davis’ draft dreams soon to be realized

BY JACOB SHEYKO | APRIL 28, 2015 5:00 AM

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Ever the physical imposing figure, it was clear early on that Carl Davis’ football career wouldn’t be limited to his four years at Iowa.

He quickly established himself as an elite interior lineman, and in his senior season, he and fellow Hawkeye Louis Trinca-Pasat were one of the Big Ten’s most formidable one-two punches in the trenches. 

Those physical traits, among a myriad of other factors, have positioned Davis to have one of the fastest rising stocks in this year’s NFL draft. Some analysts have even predicted a first round selection for the Detroit native.

A late first-round pick may be optimistic. However, there’s no denying that since Iowa’s season ended in disappointing fashion, there have been only a handful of players more impressive in off-season workouts than Davis.

His ascension up draft boards began with his Senior Bowl performance.

Selected by a panel of NFL scouts, Davis was named the Senior Bowl’s most outstanding practice player. Over the course of the week, Davis proved that he could be a dominant inside presence at defensive tackle. And most importantly, he put to bed some concerns about his consistency.

“On tape at Iowa, he flashed,” NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock said. “Here, he did way more than that. He played every snap, he showed athleticism, an ability to push the pocket and get to the quarterback. He may have elevated himself right into the first round, and that’s what this game is all about.”

This performance surprised some. Davis’ numbers at Iowa never jumped off the page. He finished his career with just 3.5 sacks and 14.5 tackles for loss in 43 games played. But this ignores that Davis often faced double teams from the opposition.

Davis’ steady climb continued at the combine, in which he had the sixth-fastest shuttle (4.47 seconds) among defensive tackles and the 11th fastest 40-yard dash (5.07 seconds). Davis, who originally thought his future would be in basketball, also had the second-best vertical with a leap of 33 inches.

Since then, he has been focused on getting in football shape rather than combine shape.

In fact, his shape and motor may be the biggest worry facing the 6-5, 320-pound Davis. Scouts have noted that he tended to get fatigued late in games at Iowa. And when that fatigue settled in, so did poor technique, such as failing to gain inside hand positioning or rising up at the snap of the ball rather than staying low. 

“[Davis] can take his game to another level with improved technique,” his ESPN draft profile said.

However, the same scouts worried about his motor have been enamored with Davis’ physical traits. He owns a quick first step and great foot speed for as big as he is. He also boasts good balance as well as purely physical traits such as massive hands and long arms.

Scouts and analysts also like his versatility. Most see Davis as capable of playing a three-technique defensive tackle, a one-technique nose tackle, or even a five-technique defensive end in a 3-4 defensive scheme.

Davis’ ability to create a push up the middle also makes him an ideal candidate for a field-goal blocking unit.

“Guys like us, we come from a tough program,” Davis recently told The Daily Iowan. “ I feel like we can do anything.”

Davis has said he looks to Miami Dolphin defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh as inspiration for the type of player he wants to be. He’s studied film of Suh since the latter was at Nebraska and admires Suh’s overall dominance.

The comparison may sound lofty, but it’s also representative of Davis’ goals. He wants to be known as more than just a high-riser in the draft, one who’s name will likely be called sooner rather than later.

“It’s going to mean a lot,” Davis said. “It’s definitely a milestone in my life, something that I have accomplished. But once I make it to the NFL, my goal is to stay and play a long time and leave an impact.”

Follow @JacobSheyko on Twitter for updates, news, and analysis about the Iowa football team.

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