Vince Marrow was standing on the field at Georgia’s Sanford Stadium in October watching warm-ups and thought he saw Jordan Davis. Big dude, about 6-foot-3, over 300 pounds. It checked out.
Three or four minutes later, he saw someone bigger, running around the field with a swagger. You can watch all the tape you want and do all the prep you need. And still, you may not quite understand what 6-foot-6, 340 pounds and agile looks like until you lay eyes on it.
“When he got by me, I had a nickname for him,” Marrow, an associate head coach at Kentucky, told The Post. “I immediately said in my head: Sun Down. Cause when he walk in a room, the sun go down. Like, that’s how big he was, man. ”
Davis’ final stat line that day in a 30-13 Georgia win over a Kentucky team that came into Athens ranked 11th in the country: three tackles, a field goal block and an extra point block. Afterwards, Bulldogs coach Kirby Smart told reporters that Davis was “Godzilla-like.”
“This is how I look at this,” Marrow said. “I see different people, they say this guy’s going top 10, this guy – I don’t know how that young man is not a top-five pick. ‘Cause I think once he gets in his pro team and you ain’t dealing with [college], now he’s just gonna train and do football 24/7 cause he’s a professional. If I was a team, I might take that joker first. That’s how impressed I was with him. ”
Davis, 22, projects to go in the back half of the first round – a reality that has as much to do with his position as his ability. He’ll likely play nose tackle in the NFL, and looks like his best fit will come in a 3-4 scheme similar to how Georgia utilized him, but he showed with the Bulldogs that he’s capable of sliding into the three-technique if necessary .
“Obviously his ability, he’s not just a nose guard, true zero [technique] nose that’s gonna two-gap, ”Matt Bockhorst, a former Clemson center who faced Davis last season, told The Post. “His ability as a pass-rusher and playing in the A-gap or B-gap as a three technique makes his value substantially increased because he can play different positions.”
The base numbers – Davis had two sacks and five tackles for last season’s loss – don’t show anything special as a pass-rusher, and that’s a big part of why Davis could slip. At his size, run defense will always be his obvious calling card, and there are questions about whether he can stay on the field for all three downs.
Ask people who tried to scheme against him, though, and they’ll tell you that was, at most, a minor issue.
“It’s not a knock on him, I would say he probably can drop some weight and that’s just gonna make him even more dangerous,” Marrow said. “But it depends on what people are looking at him as. Is he a two-down guy? If he’s a two-down guy on a team, I’m taking him, he doesn’t need to do anything. ‘Cause he’s in good enough shape and he’s twitchy and athletic enough for a big guy to create havoc. ”
Marrow and Klay Koester, the offensive coordinator at Charleston Southern, both noted Davis’ lateral speed – a rare trait for a nose tackle of any size, let alone his.
“For his size, he’s got one of the best get-offs I’ve ever seen,” Koester said. “Especially for an interior guy.”
Koester later added: “I will go ahead and say he’s a one in a generation-type defensive lineman.”
With Davis in the middle of their line, Georgia rode its defense to its first national championship since 1980. And though Davis certainly wasn’t the only NFL player in the front seven – Jalen Carter, Travon Walker, Nakobe Dean, Quay Walker, Channing Tindall and Devonte Wyatt all have futures playing on Sundays – his presence opened up lanes for everyone else.
“Bill Russell didn’t score a lot of points, but he had a lot of blocks or a lot of rebounds. He affected the game, ”Marrow said. “This young man, dude he’s every bit – I don’t know what he is… he’s just a big dude. And he’s not your typical nose like some slow guy, just plugs up the A-gap. This dude is very, very athletic for his size. ”
Marrow’s title at Kentucky includes recruiting coordinator and NFL liaison. He sees a lot of players, talks to a lot of teams. These are not empty words.
“He’s just a problem,” Marrow said. “And he’s gonna be a problem in the NFL. Trust me, he’s gonna be a problem. ”