The Lions have overhauled the linebacker position with one notable exception: They remain convinced Jarrad Davis is the centerpiece of their defense. The team expects last year’s first-round pick to fit right into Matt Patricia’s defense.
“We were down on the scouting trail and numerous people, numerous coaches, kind of pulled us aside and were just kind of raving about him a year removed from when we took him,” Lions General Manager Bob Quinn said, via Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press. “So I think in Matt’s scheme — Jarrad can play in any scheme, but I think it’s going to be really, his skill set is going to be exemplified in what we’re doing now.”
Davis, the 21st overall pick, hurt his neck in Week 2 and faced some difficulties in pass coverage. The Lions replaced him with Tahir Whitehead in their substitution packages after Davis returned from a two-game absence with his injury.
But in the season-ending victory over the Packers, things seemed to “click” for Davis as he made 12 tackles and an interception as a three-down linebacker.
“It really did,” Quinn said. “I’d say the last four to five games of the season, you really saw Jarrad Davis at his fullest, which stepping in, rookie middle linebacker, signal caller, he had a lot of things on his plate early in the season. Fought through an injury, missed a couple games there with the neck, then came back and we kind of took a few things off his plate to kind of get him back running again, and I was really happy with how the year ended up.”
Patricia called Davis “an outstanding player, leader, very hard-working type of guy that can carry a lot.”
So the Lions expect a lot from Davis this season.