On Friday night, the Pittsburgh Steelers once again focused on one of their biggest weaknesses on defense by selecting Maryland defensive back Sean Davis in the second round of the 2016 NFL Draft. Davis becomes the second defensive back taken by the Steelers in consecutive days after selecting Artie Burns (Miami), a cornerback, in the first round. As the 58th overall selection, the six-foot one-inch, 202 pound Davis appeared in 50 games (40 starts) and finished his collegiate career with 318 total tackles.
At safety, Davis started all 12 games with Maryland and led the defense with 70 solo tackles and was second in combined stops (88), ranking second in the nation with five forced-fumbles (the second-most in school history). Davis also grabbed three interceptions, tying for the team lead. Davis recorded at least four tackles per game and earned the 300th career tackle on November 12, against Michigan State.
In 2014, Davis also spent two games at cornerback and in his combined 13 games (13 starts) at both safety and the corner position, finished second on the team with 115 tackles. That accomplishment earned Davis a ranking as fourth in the nation and first in the Big Ten among defensive backs. Davis never missed a start in all four years of collegiate football with Maryland.
Scouts who evaluated Davis’ play described Davis as the type of defender that could finish a receiver or rusher after initial contact after he showed an ability to get his hands inside to strip the ball and create fumbles. Davis has the ability to play both defensive back positions, but several experts projected him to be a safety in the NFL ahead of the draft. At the NFL Combine in Indianapolis, David registered a broad jump of ten feet, six inches and bench pressed 225 pounds (21 times) – the best among defensive backs in both categories. With a 76 and 1/4 inch wingspan, good hands and ability to get vertical, Davis has the physical and athletic skill set that can adapt to the quick evolution of the pro game.
“We really look forward to having him in the building,” said Steelers defensive backs coach Carnell Lake after the selection of Davis was made Friday. “He has been really productive in the tackling department. He has a good eye for playing the ball in the passing game…He is going to provide us with a lot of versatility and depth at a needed position, which is at safety for us. That’s where we plan to play him. I think he will do an outstanding job there.”
Lake stated that in the Steelers system, Davis is projected to play both strong and free safety, but due to his experience covering the slot receivers and tight ends, it should allow the young player to visualize the play – something that often trips up young players as they transition from the college to professional football game.
“From the Combine standpoint, (Davis) was a really fast defensive back,” added Lake. “He was number two overall for all defensive backs in the three columns. He was third in the 20-yard shuttles for all defensive backs…had a 37 1/2 (inch) vertical…he is kind of everything you are looking for when you are talking about versatility for defensive backs. His measures will match up with just about anybody on the board.”