Raekwon Davis has had an interesting developmental path to the NFL. Davis burst onto the scene as a sophomore in 2017 when he racked up 8.5 sacks and blew up the National Championship Game. Alabama has a rich history of defensive lineman going to the pros, and Davis figured to be next in the long line of first-round picks from the Crimson Tide. 

The Dolphins selected Davis with the 56th pick in the second round of the 2020 draft. Why wasn’t he a first-round pick? Well, after blowing up in 2017 he struggled to produce the following two seasons. He recorded just 2 total sacks in his last two seasons in Tuscaloosa. 

The nice thing about defensive line play is sacks rarely tell the whole story. If guys are consistently creating pressure and stout in the run game they can be invaluable pieces to a team’s success. That is where I come down on Davis. He can create pressure and be a versatile run defender. 

The real question is whether or not he can reach this crazy high ceiling some people think he has. Let’s take a look at some of his strengths and weaknesses. 

Davis vs the run



The Dolphins defense under Brian Flores is pretty multiple. They run four and three-man fronts all the time. Flores also puts a premium on defenders who are stout run defenders who clog the middle of the line. Davis is basically the epitome of this philosophy. 

He lined up as an interior player in even fronts and as an end in odd fronts. He even got some playing time as 0-tech. Davis can play all over the place on the line, and I expect that will continue for the Dolphins.  

On the play above, Davis is lined up as a DT in a four-man front over the OG. He gets off the snap quickly and gets a good hand position inside the chest of the guard. He quickly moves to extend his arm and get the lineman off his chest. 

Davis ends up pushing the guard back into the backfield a little bit which resets the line of scrimmage and clogs things up in the backfield. This isn’t an overly flashy play by any means but it is something Miami will task him with doing right away. 

This play is much flashier. Again, Davis lines up as a DT in a four-man front over the guard. This time he will have to deal with the center since the guard is pulling around and the center is stepping down to Davis’ gap. 

Davis sees this quickly and establishes a hand position on the inside shoulder of the center. He then proceeds to just toss him aside. Davis is powerful and has the ability to manhandle lineman sometimes. This is the type of play I want to see more from Davis. He can become a bystander at times and given the physical tools he shouldn’t be. 

Here is another play that shows where Davis will bring value to the Dolphins. Something Brian Flores preaches about constantly with defensive lineman is “heavy hands.” What does that mean? 

Basically it’s a player who is able to generate strength on initial contact with just their hands. An easy way to scout this is to watch the shoulder pads of the opposing lineman. If they snap back at first contact then you’ve got some heavy hands. 

On the play above, Davis is again lined up in a four-man front as a DT. He makes the first contact inside the chest plate of the guard. If you watch closely, you can see the guards shoulder pads snap back. This gives Davis and early advantage and prevents the guard from creating running room. 

This is a run to the outside which means once Davis stacks his block he’s gotta shuffle his feet and get moving laterally towards the sideline. This may seem like a pretty simple thing to do, but it is harder than it looks. In any event, he does a nice job here and helps clog the run-up and prevent any cutback lanes from developing. 


One thing I have heard questioned about Davis is his effort. There are some legitimate concerns from sources I trust. With that said, I don’t think Davis’ motor is awful. Does it run super hot? Nope. Is he lazy? I’m gonna go with no. 

The play above is a good example. He does a nice job using his quickness to beat the OG to his spot and then he shoots the gap. Davis shouldn’t really be involved in this play at all. The run is to the outside and away from him. 

He doesn’t give up though and sticks with the play and ends up making a play in the boundary after the RB clears initial contact. This is not a crazy good hustle play, but it proves Davis isn’t just lollygagging around all the time. 


Davis vs the pass


Davis is able to create pressure well enough that he has the potential to be an impact pass rusher. Here’s the problem though. Reps like the one above do not show up enough for me to feel confident about his pass-rush ability. 

I’ll give him credit where credit is due though. He does a good job jabbing his foot outside and then ripping back across the lineman’s face. He beats him with quickness and creates a quarterback pressure. 

This is a good rep. However, it’s not a great rep. Once Davis wins and creates a good angle for himself, he’s unable to bend and finish the play. If you pause the video when he’s in the backfield you can see how upright he is. I acknowledge his natural size makes it difficult for him to bend but it’s still a limiting part of his game. 


I think one of my biggest gripes with Davis as a pass rusher is his lack of pass rush moves. He’s been a starter since he was a sophomore, and he didn’t leave college early so his game should be way more developed than it is. 

The move he uses in the play above is by far the most recurring move I saw in his film. This is just a simple swipe move. He just tosses the hands of the OL away and gets in on the QB for another pressure. 


This play is more of what you see on Davis’ film rather than the first play. He’s got an average first step and zero pass rush plan. He just runs in a lot of the time with no plan on how he’s going to win.

A lot of times he will luck out and a lineman will overset or just simply put, be bad at his job. That allows Davis to win with his athletic ability and not any technique. This isn’t something he will be able to do in the NFL. 




Davis hasn’t improved as a pass rusher since 2017. Nothing about his game has developed for multiple seasons. So yes, there are some really nice flashes. You will see clips from the 2017 CFP on Twitter all the time but that was two years ago, and he’s still the same player. 

As a scout that worries me, especially coming from a college like Alabama. It’s not like he didn’t have the best coaching in the country. Now, maybe Miami’s staff can finally unlock his potential, and he will become a dominant three-down presence in the middle. 

The more likely outcome is something in the middle. Davis will be a versatile run-stopping presence and decent pocket pusher. He should be a valuable part of the Dolphins rotation up front. Is that worth the 56th pick in the draft? We will have to wait and see.