Jordan Davis got a big ol’ Jordan Davis grin this week as he talked about his newest mentors in the Eagles’ defensive line room.
Even before Davis landed on IR with an ankle sprain, he had guys like Fletcher Cox and Javon Hargrave and Brandon Graham to guide him. Now as he gets set for his likely return off IR, there are even more veterans in the room.
And the two most recent additions, Linval Joseph and Ndamukong Suh, are eager to pass on all their knowledge to the talented first-round pick.
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“It means the world to me, to be honest with you,” Joseph said of that role. “I know what it feels like to come in the league and not really have a role model and somebody that can really help me and guide me. I told myself once I became established in this league I want to make sure I give back and help younger guys. And [Davis] loves the game, he listens and he just wants to be great. So that’s good.”
Joseph, 34, entered the NFL back in 2010 as a second round pick but he didn’t have this type of mentorship in those early Giants locker rooms.
That’s why he’s always made a concerted effort to be that type of role model and sounding board for young players once he became established.
“I came in in the old era,” Joseph said. “Guys were intimidated and scared that they were going to lose their job to a younger player. When I first came in the league, they helped me for about three weeks. And then I had the opportunity to go on the field, I made a couple plays and that help disappeared a little bit.”
Suh, 35, was much luckier. He was able to lean on veterans like defensive linemen Kyle Vanden Bosch, Corey Williams and offensive lineman Dominic Raiola, who all helped him during his early years in Detroit.
While Joseph and Suh’s experiences differed, they still came to the same conclusion: They want to do whatever they can to help the next generation of players.
In Philly, that means teaching their talented young teammate Davis all they can, even if it’s just for the rest of this season. It could be a lasting legacy for these two in the city.
“It’s a huge advantage for a young guy,” Suh said.
And Davis, 22, is clearly the young guy in the defensive line room. The Eagles have five defensive linemen over the age of 30: Suh, Joseph, Graham, Robert Quinn and Cox with 62 seasons combined between them.
“That’s a lot of knowledge and a lot of experience,” said Davis, who pointed out he was in 3rd grade when Suh entered the NFL.
It’s not just on-field tips either. Veterans also teach their younger teammates how to be professionals, how to take care of their money and more. On Thursday, Suh gave Davis a crash course on Bitcoin and NFTs. On the field, Davis hopes technique tips will help him take his game to the next level.
There is a price to pay for Davis, though.
As a rookie, it’s Davis’s responsibility to decorate the D-line meeting room for Christmas.
“Everybody loves a little festive fun,” Davis said. “Tis the season, you feel me?”
Both Joseph and Suh, and the other veterans before them, seem to appreciate how willing Davis is to ask questions and learn. He’s committed to getting better. As long as veterans see that level of commitment, they’re more willing to help.
And it’s clear Davis has all the talent to be great.
“He’s very, very gifted, to say the least,” Suh said. “I remember seeing a couple clips of him when he was at Georgia and I was like he looks like a two-gapper but you see him now in person and the way he can move and he can be a special talent as long as he takes care of business.”
Davis returned to practice this week after missing those four games with a high ankle sprain and had a good week, according to head coach Nick Sirianni.
Even after just a couple practices with Davis, Suh and Joseph are already very impressed.
“He’s going to be a helluva player, man,” Joseph said. “I can’t wait to watch him.”