Gannon excited about Jordan Davis's untapped pass-rush ability


Jordan Davis simply wasn’t asked to rush the passer very often while playing for Georgia’s national championship defense.

It doesn’t mean he can’t do it.

At least that’s what the Eagles are hoping. Because the Eagles are counting on Davis’s ability to not just stuff the run but to also get after opposing quarterbacks.

“He's a big, explosive, violent man that can win one-on-one,” Eagles defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon said. “So yes, he will definitely have a role in the passing game, and he will affect the quarterback in a good way. Excited about his skill set and what he can do in the run and pass game.”

Tuesday was the first time Gannon has spoken publicly since the Eagles traded up to the No. 13 pick to draft Davis last month. Gannon seems genuinely elated about the pick. And it’s easy to understand why.

Davis is what folks in the scouting community like to call a unicorn.

The 22-year-old Davis is 6-foot-6 and 340+ pounds. Despite that, he has an incredible athletic profile, which he showed off at the combine, running a 4.78 in the 40-yard dash with a vertical jump of 32 inches as a broad jump of 10-3.

He filled up the ol’ spider chart.

It’s because of these incredible physical gifts that Gannon and the rest of the Eagles’ brass believe Davis will be more than a space-eater at the NFL level. Gannon admitted the Eagles will ask Davis to do “a lot of the same things” he did at Georgia — he’s still a prototypical 0-tech who will solidify the middle of the Eagles’ defense — but that’s just the beginning.

“Then there are going to be certain times where we let him cut his ears back and rush,” Gannon said. “At that place (Georgia), obviously they play really good football there, they didn't ask him to do that a lot. But he definitely has the skill set to do that when you start looking at how he moves and his body and his traits. He definitely will project to affect the game in the pass game, as well.”

Davis’s presence on the Eagles’ roster seems to indicate that we’ll see more 3-4 look from the Eagles in 2022. That’s a notion Gannon did nothing to dispel during his press conference on Tuesday. While Davis appears to be a pure nose tackle, the Eagles have talked about his ability to play multiple spots. With his athletic profile, it’s easy to understand why.

Davis was a great college player but he was just one of them on what is considered one of the best collegiate defenses ever. Because of that, each Bulldogs star had a very specific job description. Davis played around just 25 snaps per game in 2021 and was charged with eating double teams and stopping the run. He did that exceptionally well but it came at a cost. His numbers weren’t great.

While he was a no-doubt first-round pick, Davis had just 2.0 sacks in his senior season and just 7.0 total in his four years in college. You look at those numbers and wonder if he’ll be able to be a different player in the NFL. There’s obviously some projection here.

Even Davis has admitted he needs to get in better shape. Earlier this month at rookie minicamp, Davis said he weighed 345 pounds; his goal is to cut that down and play in the 330s. That’ll help from a conditioning perspective, but it’ll also help his ability as a pass-rusher.

Davis called stuffing the run his “bread and butter” and he takes pride in the selfless duties he carried out in college. At the very least, Davis is expected to do that at the next level, but that’s his baseline: An elite run-stuffer.

The Eagles clearly think he’ll become more than that.

“I think when you see a guy with that type of size, athleticism and explosion that loves to play the game, he did what they asked him to do in their defense. He fit the bill,” Eagles VP of football operations Andy Weidl said last month. “He made them strong in the middle of the defense.

“But you saw the lateral quickness, you saw the range, you saw the ability to get down on the line of scrimmage and run down running backs and hawk down quarterbacks.”

Can he get after quarterbacks in the NFL? Gannon certainly thinks so.

The rest of us will find out soon enough.

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