A dominant physical profile bodes high hopes for Ohio State mauler Wyatt Davis, but his success hangs on a handful of key improvements in his game.
Infrequently is there ever a collegiate guard prospect who breaks into the first round of the NFL draft. Players such as Quenton Nelson, David Decastro, and Kevin Zeitler are among the few who have made it, and each of them has proceeded with a pro-bowl career. Wyatt Davis has the very same opportunity to become the staple anchor to an offensive line in the 2021 NFL Draft.
At 6-foot-4, 315 pounds, Davis is an athletic specimen who possesses unmatched length for an interior lineman. This is paired with smooth feet that naturally glide from block to block whilst delivering crushing blocks. Davis operated in a zone-blocking scheme at Ohio State but showed every bit of athleticism necessary to operate as a pulling guard in a man-blocking scheme.
Davis’ smooth movement from block to block in a zone-scheme also directly translates into his physical dominance as a pulling guard in a man scheme. Combining Davis’ size with such fluid movement makes him a bulldozer down the inside or a pancake-producer on the edge against smaller edge defenders. Even coming out of his stance, Davis is a quick-mover who uses a strong initial lunge to engage and establish leverage over the man across from him.
The most impressive portion of Davis’s run-blocking though has nothing to do with his physical gifts. Davis has a cerebral understanding of running concepts and understands how to open appealing rushing lanes for his ballcarrier.
More from NFL Mocks
Time after time on tape Davis would blow open the right-side B-gap with pindown blocks either on his own or in conjunction with his center. These blocks were often solely responsible for upwards of 4.0 yards before contact.
Although Davis may be polished blocking along the line of scrimmage, he has shown issues when blocking in space. Davis is an aggressive player and often scurries to the second-level after putting his initial assignment out of the play.
Although an eagerness to continue the attack is beneficial for interior run-blockers, Davis can often get ahead of himself and outrun the play and surprise himself with his own speed while running past patient linebackers.
This aggression is a hallmark of Davis’ style of play but needs to be reeled in before he can be entrusted with the responsibilities as a pulling guard in space. Even in zone-blocking, Davis will sometimes get his weight over his toes and begin to fall forward into the opposition, offering an easy counter-move for veteran pass-rushers.
Moving into Davis’ pass-blocking, it needs to be understood that the value of the interior offensive linemen is more focused on their run-blocking whereas offensive tackles place their emphasis on pass-blocking. NFL guards look to be molded into physical beasts who can overpower the 300-pounders aligned across from them rather than light-footed technical masters who can match speedsters such as Von Miller.
The greatest strength of Davis is his prototypical size for the position and excellent reach. With the long arms, Davis uses a strong first punch and well-trained hand placement below the chest plate to direct and control the pass-rusher into his chest. Once Davis has the rusher reeled in, he can typically use his physicality to pin them in their rush and rule the out of the play.
Davis’ footwork anchors well to apply force to the rusher, but his position relative to the pocket leaves something to be desired. When dropping out of his stance into pass-protection, Davis tends to sink too deep from his position and creates a vulnerable pocket-structure. This reduces the distance from pass-rusher to quarterback and creates an uneasy environment for the signal-caller to throw from.
Davis has also shown problem identifying assignments in pass-protection, often locking into a single pass-rusher on his center or right tackle and missing a second rusher targeting his gap on stunts and twists. This is another application of Davis’ aggression that will become better with time but proposes some concerning day-one issues.
Player Comparison: Brandon Scherff, G, Washington
Brandon Scherff has been one of, if not, the premier run-blocking guard of the NFL. With a similar physical frame to Davis at six-foot-five, 315 pounds, Scherff is a reasonable expectation for Davis considering his projected draft position and physical talent. Scherff also displays excellent movement skills sliding between blocks, pulling around the edge, and getting into space on screen-passes.
The most interesting part of this projection though is the difference in pass-blocking mentality and how the two players use their physicality. While Davis locks in on singular targets, Scherff sits down between the center and right tackle until the threat of any stunts has dissipated. Once this time has passed, Scherff peels out of his position and looks to flatten the closest defender coming off of a teammate’s block. If Davis can develop a similar pattern in his pass-protection he will be more than capable as a starting guard.