Kentucky linebacker Jamin Davis was selected by the Washington Football Team with the 19th pick in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft. First we’ll take a look at Jamin’s career at UK and how the Cats can potentially replace the first-round draft choice.
Jamin Davis appeared in 36 games with 11 starts in three seasons as a Kentucky Wildcat. Davis accumulated 144 career tackles to go along with 5 tackles for loss, 5 interceptions, 3 pass breakups, 3 QB hurries, 1 forced fumble, and 1 fumble recovery.
2020 was Davis’ lone season as a starter in which he produced 102 total tackles. That number was good enough to be ranked third in the Southeastern Conference. Davis also recorded eight career double-figure tackle games including five consecutive which was a first by a Kentucky Wildcat. He was named as the Southeastern Conference’s Defensive Player of the Week for his efforts against Vanderbilt and was later listed as a 1st Team All SEC selection by PFF.
An early entry to the NFL Draft ended a Kentucky career path that was rapidly escalating for the Ludiwici, Georgia native. Defensive coordinator Brad White is faced with another year of replacing his Mike linebacker. Unfortunately, projected starter D’Eryk Jackson suffered a season-ending injury during spring practice which leaves the Wildcats searching for Davis’ replacement going into summer workouts.
Former 4-star prospect Jared Casey was moved from the outside to inside linebacker position and will compete for the job with Michigan State transfer Luke Fulton. One of those two could surface as the Cat’s go-to tackler on the inside. But, incoming Wildcat Trevin Wallace will soon arrive to campus. The ultra-talented rookie be given an ample opportunity to compete for first-year playing time. The Wildcats may also visit the transfer portal for immediate assistance. Several possibilities will be examined but the clock is ticking.
Kentucky will likely rotate linebackers more in 2021 than it did a year ago. This means that the middle backer position could be filled by a committee based on situation rather than one single, three-down defender. Of course, pace and tempo impacts that strategy. Replacing Jamin Davis will be a demanding challenge. His upward trajectory in the Draft was remarkable and speedy. On January 12th, Davis’ PFF Average Draft Position was 107.5. Today, his ADP stands at 31.7. =
What Does All This Mean?
What the Cats do next at the Mike linebacker position will have resounding ramifications on the team’s win/loss record. That role in White’s defense calls for a playmaker with high tackle production. It’s unlikely and unfair to expect UK’s 2021 Mike linebacker to have a “Jamin Davis” type of season. 102 tackles is an extremely high mark. Could Jared Casey or Luke Fulton be the answer? We’ll see. Will Trevin Wallace live up to the hype and contribute as a true freshman? We’ll see. Is an addition via the transfer portal a possibility? We’ll see. Again, many options but the clock is ticking.
First and second-round talent is rare. The Cats are inching closer to the season with a glaring hole to fill on the inside. This position is one to monitor going forward.