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The Washington Football Team entered the 2020 NFL Draft with the linebacker position as one of its biggest needs.
The team immediately addressed this area with the first-round selection of Kentucky linebacker Jamin Davis at 19th overall. He is the first linebacker selected by Washington in the first round since the club selected Brian Orakpo in 2009.
“It was a situation where the grade matched up with the need,” general manager Martin Mayhew said. “This guy just checked a whole bunch of boxes for us. All the physical attributes you want, had great production last year – over 100 tackles in 10 games. He checks that box and then he checks the box of being a great football character guy. He fits us, he fits what we’re trying to do, and he fits our culture.”
“Very smart, intelligent young man, plays the game at the right tempo,” coach Ron Rivera added. “He understands what they do and that will translate very well with how we do things. He’s the kind of fit in terms of position flex. He can play all of our linebacker positions, he has the athletic ability. He’s what you look for in a football player.”
Davis was one of the top-ranked defensive players on Washington’s board. As one of the most productive linebackers in the country, Davis finished his college career with 102 tackles, three interceptions, two pass breakups, 1.5 sacks, a forced fumble and a touchdown.
Davis also had a strong Pro Day recording a 4.47 second 40-yard dash, 40-inch vertical jump, 11-foot broad jump and 21 bench press reps off 225 pounds. Furthermore, Rivera and Mayhew noted how much he stood out on tape.
The guy just shows up on tape,” Mayhew stated. “He has some range, has some knock back to him and he plays very smart.”
With Rivera and defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio both being former linebackers, they know what to look for in someone who plays the position. That’s what made the decision a no-brainer for Rivera.
“To me, linebacker is easy to watch and grade,” he noted. “As I was going through the process, he kept sticking out. There were several guys we really liked because of their athleticism and ability but this guy had the most position flex of any of them and that’s important to me. A guy that can play all your linebacking positions will learn quickly, understand quickly and help others around him.”
Davis will join Washington’s stout defense and a linebacker group that already includes Jon Bostic and Cole Holcomb. This will give him plenty of opportunity to develop and grow. Rivera believes he is far from reaching his ceiling.
“My entire time, I played with a chip on my shoulder always and stayed the course and trusted the process,” Davis said. “Now that everything happened the way it did, I’m just ready to show the world who I am.”