INDIANAPOLIS – The need at safety was not glaring for the Colts in 2021.
Not when you’ve made the selections of Khari Willis and Julian Blackmon in the two prior drafts.
But finding a depth piece at safety in the 2021 Draft made sense, and the Colts feel that Shawn Davis is a versatile one.
“Shawn Davis plays the way we want to play,” Chris Ballard says of the team’s 5th round pick. “He is aggressive, he is tough, he has good ball skills.
It’s the aggression and physicality of Davis that the Colts like the most.
But they also like the ability he showed in college to make some impactful plays at multiple levels of the defense.
You don’t often find a two-year starting safety in the SEC with the following production: 5 interceptions, 15 passes defensed, 5.5 tackles for loss.
That’s part of why Davis doesn’t label himself as a ‘free’ or ‘strong’ safety.
For him, so much comes back to how he plays the game of football, showing minimal fear in giving his body up.
“I’d say it’s a part of my game just because at the position that I play, you have to be very physical because you are the last line of defense,” the 6-0, 206-pound Davis says. “If you’re not physical then it’s all touchdowns coming from the backend on your part, so I made being physical a part of my game and one of my physical strengths.”
At Florida, Davis played in a variety of defensive coverages.
Davis did battle through some injuries in college and his willingness to come up and tackle did lead to misses in the open field.
With the Colts, it is not very clear where Davis will carve out a defensive role early on.
He should be a core special teamer right away, as most drafted defensive backs from Day 3 are doing in their first NFL season.
Willis and Blackmon are the obvious starters at safety.
A defensive role for the safeties behind them will depend more so on Matt Eberflus and health.
Eberflus doesn’t love using six defensive backs because it either trims the defensive front from 4 to 3 or takes 1 of 2 linebackers (Darius Leonard and Bobby Okereke) off the field.
If that’s the case, Davis is really going to have to shine to play on defense as a rookie. But Chris Ballard said last week that the Colts will be more open to using 3 safeties at once in 2021.
The Colts like the playing style of Davis and that should lead to an early special teams role, at least, for the Florida native.
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