Countdown to Kickoff: 86 Days
Paul Davis was a 2-star linebacker out of Cairo, GA. He had been a great player in high school, but questions about his size limited the interest he got from division 1 schools. Going into the week before national signing day, Davis was committed to the one FBS school that gave him an offer, Temple. A late offer led Davis to stay close to home and bring his college career to the Flats.
Davis made an impact right away. In 2013, as a true freshman, Davis played in 13 games, starting 1, and recorded 41 tackles with five of those behind the line of scrimmage. It was his play in his sophomore season that really cemented Davis as one of Tech's best players. He recorded 119 tackles and had several huge plays that helped Georgia Tech to win close games, most notably his 41 yard interception return for a touchdown against Virginia Tech. Davis had a solid junior season in 2016, but it did not live up to the potential of his sophomore year. Some minor injuries and a weakened defensive line contributed to an okay, but unspectacular season. He still led the team in tackles and tackles for loss, but dropped from 119 and 8.5 to 77 and 6.5. Following the loss of most of the secondary and Adam Gotsis, Davis heads into his senior season as arguably the premier player on the defense. A strong senior season would secure his place as an NFL prospect.
NFL Draft Scouting Report
PJ Davis is going to hear the same thing in his final season at Georgia Tech as he heard in high school. Yes, he has had a lot of success, but will his size allow him to succeed at the next level? He has grown into his body well, so some of the questions regarding his size will be answered, but they will still be there and limiting his potential. Most preseason draft rankings have Davis ranked somewhere between the #10-15 outside linebacker in the draft. If he remains at this level, that would correlate to somewhere around the 4th to 6th round of the draft.
Unfortunately, he likely has more room to move up than down. His potential is limited by questions about his size. He could have one of the best seasons in the NCAA and he still likely would not get drafted before the third round. A poor season or an injury riddled season could leave him out of the draft altogether. Davis always seems to have a positive attitude and is one of the most high-energy, visible players on the team at pumping the team and crowd up. (I'll always remember at the 2014 Georgia game, when an injured Davis was standing on the bench waving at the Yellow Jackets' fans to make some noise, even in an away stadium.)
Davis will be expected to be a leader this season, and an improvement in the defense will give him a boost in draft stock. If the defensive line is weak again, he could see a reduction in his effectiveness, his stats, and his draft stock. He enters the season as one of the best draft prospects at GT, and barring a major injury he will be at least an undrafted free agent. Let's hope a big senior season propels him in the draft!