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The Case for Vontae Davis

When the Colts traded their 2013 second round pick and a conditional draft choice for three-year veteran Vontae Davis, they envisioned having a young playmaking cornerback to pair with Jerraud Powers on the outside of their freshly installed 3-4 defense. There is no question that Davis has the ability, as the 25th overall pick of the 2009 NFL Draft from Illinois has frequently displayed flashes of coverage brilliance. He has the size, speed, and athletic ability to run with anyone in the NFL. However, it’s just been a matter of consistency and professionalism. Davis was often in former Dolphins’ head coach Tony Sparano’s doghouse and recently fell out of favor with new coach Joe Philbin and consequently lost his starting position on the Dolphins’ depth chart. It’s never been an issue of talent with Davis, rather it’s been more of an issue of how much he’s willing to apply himself.

There cannot be any more conditioning issues with his new team the Indianapolis Colts. There should be no reports of late night drinking before a hard day of practice. New head coach Chuck Pagano will not tolerate such antics. However, the former defensive back coach for the Baltimore Ravens knows cornerbacks, and the type of talent that Vontae Davis possesses. He has the ability to play man coverage on any receiver in the NFL from Calvin Johnson to Wes Welker. Davis just has to harness that ability and stay focused. The Colts have been searching for defensive backs all offseason. From trades to free agent pick-ups, GM Ryan Grigson has scoured the market, turning over any logical stone but having not yet found a suitable starter. Until now, as this move may prove to be the solution.

Even if the Colts repeat last season and are one of the bottom feeders of the NFL, they would be lucky to find a player of Vontae Davis’ ability in the second round. It’s simply hard to find a talented man coverage cornerback outside the first round of the NFL Draft or through heavy spending in free agency. For comparability purposes, when one considers that the most talented cornerback taken in the second round of the 2012 NFL Draft, Janoris Jenkins, has a far worse rap sheet then Vontae Davis, it starts to look like an even smarter investment. On ability alone, Davis is worth a future second round pick. The only difference is that Vontae Davis can play this year on a defense that desperately needed a cornerback to pair with Powers. He can contribute right away. Even despite a limited training camp with the Colts, he’s already listed as the starting left cornerback atop the Colts’ depth chart.

In a way, it reminds me of the 2011 trade between the San Diego Chargers and New York Jets that sent the immensely talented but troubled cornerback Antonio Cromartie to the Jets for a third round pick. Yet, Vontae Davis has nowhere near the red flags that Cromartie did heading to his new team. Davis’ offenses are more centered around a lack of focus than off the field trouble. Like the Jets, it’s a gamble that may very well pay off. When one factors in Jerraud Powers’ lengthy injury history, and it may turn out to be a shrewd move by the new regime purely out of necessity. Time will tell, but the talent level of this secondary has significantly improved since Davis’ arrival.



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