As the 2013 NFL Draft wound to a close and his name had not yet been called, safety
Surrounded by family and friends for the draft’s final day, a day they had all hoped would end with Davis being selected to a NFL team, any NFL team, Davis couldn’t bear to watch the final picks.
Excusing himself from the dinner table, Davis bounded off to a room by himself where he could have some moments to think. Those moments didn’t last long, though, as the most frenetic part of the draft – the end – were still about to take place.
Davis’ phone blew up as the seventh and final round wound down. Despite his best efforts to not get his hopes up about being drafted, Davis couldn’t help himself but now it was working against him.
With as many as 11 teams pushing hard to sign him to a free agent deal, Davis didn’t have much time to weigh all of the variables and make a decision.
“I had to figure it out as I go,” Davis said. “I kind of got my hopes up a little bit and didn’t worry about that stuff hoping somebody else would pick me and I didn’t have to worry about where I was going. But I was scrambling there at the end trying to figure out the best situation for me. My agent definitely helped me out with that too. It just came down to me and my wife making a decision.”
Davis quickly whittled the field down to the three most plausible options. Considerations in the decision included factors such as the coaching staff in place, the availability of opportunities on the depth chart and the makeup of the team.
The Rams, with an obvious need for help at safety, had clearly made Davis a priority. Coach Jeff Fisher himself had called Davis and offered an opportunity, explaining how he would fit in and making an offer.
Having Fisher make the call personally meant a lot to Davis, more so than even the relatively substantial signing bonus the Rams put in front of him as well. When all was said and done, Davis just felt St. Louis was the best place for him to pursue his NFL dreams.
Although the Rams had spent a third-round draft choice on
“We’re just glad that he wasn’t (drafted),” Fisher said. “We had a good grade on him. He had an outstanding combine. He’s a sharp young guy that plays special teams and he’s got cover skills and he can run and tackle. He’ll have a good opportunity.”
That Davis wasn’t selected in the draft is a bit curious in itself given the impressive resume he posted in his four years at Texas Tech and the work he did in the lead up to the draft.
Davis started all 49 games in his four-year career and finished eighth on the Red Raiders’ all time tackle list with 362 stops. Along the way, he was honorable mention or better for the All Big 12 Conference team three times, earned All Big 12 Academic team honors three times and was an Academic All American in 2012.
If the production side of it wasn’t enough, Davis performed quite well in his given opportunities to show off his athletic ability in the months leading up to the draft. Although he wasn’t invited to the National Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, he did receive an invite to a regional combine in Houston as well as the super regional in Dallas.
In both of those events plus his pro day in Lubbock, Davis fared well. He was officially clocked at 4.37 seconds in the 40-yard dash in Houston and ran matching 4.41s in Dallas and at the pro day.
Given all of that, Davis thought he’d done enough to earn a spot in the draft. With some time to reflect on why his name wasn’t called, Davis can’t quite put his finger on it but suspects that maybe he was just a bit too low key to be easily recognized.
“I think I’m too bland, I don’t know,” Davis said. “I might need to add some flash to my game or something. I just pride myself on being fundamentally sound and flying around to the ball, really having a nose for the ball and making the tackle. It doesn’t have to be pretty; it doesn’t have to be a knockout hit every time as long as you get the guy down.”
One could argue there is nothing bland about a 4.37 40-yard dash time. And if everything he accomplished in games or in pre-draft workouts isn’t enough, it’s not like Davis is lacking in personality.
Although he graduated from Texas Tech with a degree in Management Information Systems, Davis made a hobby of running a personal blog where he shares his experiences both on the field and off in an effort to give fans an athlete’s perspective.
Davis said he has no certain passion for writing but hopes that fans who check out his blog – which can be found at www.thestudentofthegame.blogspot.com – will gain a little insight into the life of an athlete.
While Davis apologizes for his occasionally infrequent updates, there’s nothing bland about a blog that features photos of him with the likes of rapper Snoop Dogg and comedian Frank Caliendo.
“It’s more just perspective and experience,” Davis said. “I don’t try and write big, long blogs like some people do. Some of them might be little bitty paragraphs but sometimes I have to force myself too. It’s definitely not a love; I just try to give my perspective.”
As Davis has joined the rest of the Rams’ rookie class in St. Louis for this weekend’s rookie minicamp, he’s certainly not focused on any technology save for the iPad that carries his new defensive playbook.
“There’s going to be competition everywhere and I’m going to come just as hard and be in the playbook just as much like I’m coming in here with no contract at all,” Davis said. “All that means is I have an interview with them and here I am for the interview and I have got to earn my spot.”
After playing for four defensive coordinators in as many seasons for the Red Raiders, learning a new defense is nothing new to the 6’1, 204-pound Davis.
Davis said the Rams are working him at free safety initially though he feels comfortable playing anywhere after a college career in which he was asked to play every kind of safety role and responsibility possible.
Looking back at the draft now, Davis laughs and said maybe he should have spent more time celebrating whenever he’d make a big play in college, perhaps that could have been the key to being drafted.
But Davis also isn’t allowing himself to worry about what didn’t happen, only what he can control and acknowledges that in some ways, it can be better to control your own fate than have it dictated.
“I think you are kind of fighting with yourself because everybody’s dream is to get drafted but sometimes it’s just better to go free agent and get to pick where you go where the best opportunity is and where you think you fit in the best,” Davis said. “That’s definitely the case for me.”