The Detroit Lions announced on Friday afternoon that they have signed linebacker Jarrad Davis back to the team. No contract terms were immediately released.
Davis was drafted by the Lions in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft. Davis possessed an ideal set of size and speed coming out of Florida, but the 27-year-old linebacker failed to grasp the mental side of the game. Davis struggled in his four subsequent years with the Lions. He started a total of 45 games with Detroit but had been reduced to a part-time role by his final season with the Lions. In total, Davis tallied 305 tackles, 10.5 sacks, and seven forced fumbles in Detroit.
Detroit declined his fifth-year option, and Davis was signed by the New York Jets last year. After suffering an ankle injury in the preseason for New York, Davis was placed on injured reserve. He eventually recovered and started five games for the Jets, tallying 25 tackles for New York and just a 28.6 PFF grade.
Davis is going to be a tough sell to a fan base who saw him struggle for four straight years, but he will be a good culture fit for what the Lions are trying to build. Davis was a team captain for three of his four seasons, and his work ethic was always among the best on the team.
In fact, Dan Campbell spoke very highly of Davis last year when recalling a film session during his time with the New Orleans Saints.
“Davis, man,” Campbell told radio station 97.1 The Ticket. “One of the first things I circled was if we’re running inside zone or we’re running our 42 ace, our lead draw, and you’re leading on number 40, man you better freakin’ be ready for him to drop his hat, and hit you right under the chin. He will literally split your chin open and knock your hat off.”
There’s always a hope that Davis could connect with this new coaching staff and a new scheme. Detroit does less two-gapping than when Davis was here last time, and his style of game lends itself to the kind of linebacker Dan Campbell said he was looking for earlier this year.
“We want our linebackers to play downhill,” Campbell said at the NFL Combine earlier this month. “We don’t want to flow laterally. We want to be going downhill first. Take the blocks off of them.”
Davis also showed a little bit of versatility as an edge rusher towards the end of his Lions career, and that could play better to this coaching staff.
Davis will enter a linebacker group that is looking to upgrade from a poor performance last season. Detroit opted to re-sign Alex Anzalone this offseason, who actually played alongside Davis at Florida. They also added special teamer Chris Board, but let Jalen Reeves-Maybin walk in free agency. That leaves Davis, Anzalone, Board, Derrick Barnes, Josh Woods, Shaun Dion Hamilton among others to compete for starting jobs in Detroit.