In the sixth-round of the 2020 NFL Draft, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers selected Nebraska defensive lineman Khalil Davis. Davis wowed scouts at the NFL Combine with his measurables. At 6’1″ 308 pounds, Davis ran the 40-yard dash in 4.75 seconds (6th best for defensive linemen) and benched 225lbs 32 times (2nd for defensive linemen). Davis blends a rare athleticism and strength for a man his size.
Kacy Rodgers on Davis
His first step and quick-twitch speed has already been noticed by his coaches in Tampa. Defensive line coach Kacy Rodgers recently said:
”With Khalil, the thing that jumps out as we keep watching him is he’s a very explosive guy… I didn’t know he was explosive as he was, till hands-on watching him every day but he’s a very explosive guy…. he’s kind of got an element we miss from all our other guys, I’d say they’re strong and powerful. Now you had a quick-twitch type person, it’s a change of pace. It’s an element that you didn’t have in the room.”
Davis on Stringing Together Good Practices
After stringing some sound practices together, including Monday where he stuffed the runner four times. He also showed his athleticism by diagnosing a wide receiver screen to Justin Watson and hustled downfield to make the stop. I asked Davis how he builds upon that and carves out a role on this defensive rotation. He stated that;
“Coach talks a lot about stacking days. Really, for a rookie, right now you can’t really have any bad days. I’ve just been trying to find something to get better at each day and stack days–build a resume so they can go look back on that and see, ‘He’s been improving,’ or ‘He’s been getting better at something each day.”
Davis on What He Needs to Improve
When I asked Davis what other parts of his game he’s been trying to improve, and how he’s leaned on the veteran guys, he said;
” I would say it’s my all-around game. They know I’m fast. They know I can help them on third down but just showing them I can playbill down or whenever they need me. Or at this location or that and just show them that I can do it. So just being better in the all-around game, run, and pass. Just whenever they need me to go in, that’s just what I’ve been put my helmet on and go so.”
Davis on the Challenges of the 2020 Season
With the current pandemic and the new rules and protocols, rookies like Davis have missed quite a few snaps and installs with the lack of OTAs, Mini-Camps, and just not being able to be in the building. That’s presented its own set of challenges, and that’s something Davis has acknowledged.
“We’re definitely behind the eight ball, but the one thing I’ve tried to do this whole camp is come in and show them that I can play. At the end of the day, we’re still playing the same game we were playing when we were kids. When it comes down to it [and] that ball is snapped, you just have to play and make plays. That’s what I’ve really been trying to do – do my job within the scheme [and] make plays. That’s just the biggest thing – coming in and doing what your coach wants you to do. You find a way to make plays and keep showing them every day, ‘Oh, he did this. He did something new today.’ Doing that, along with trying to minimize the mistakes.”
If Davis can do just that, minimize mistakes, make plays, play the game he knows, and shows the coaches he’s progressing every day, Davis should be a solid contributor on this defensive line and carve out a nice role on the rotation.