Editor's Note: These lists feature our thoughts on the most important players for Auburn heading into the 2016 football season. We are counting down 16 key Tigers for the offense and 16 more for the defense as Coach Gus Malzahn's team prepares to face Clemson in the season opener.
Auburn, Ala.--Perhaps the fastest player on Auburn's 2016 football roster, redshirt freshman defensive back Javaris Davis sat out last season, but he will be counted on to play a key role for the Tigers in 2016 at the cornerback position.
Locked in a battle with fellow redshirt freshman Jamel Dean for the starting job opposite Carlton Davis, Javaris Davis brings a physical style of play to the defense in addition to his speed.
With a possible opening night suspension coming for Carlton Davis as a result of an off-the-field incident late in the spring, Javaris Davis could be pushed into a bigger role right out of the gate against Clemson, but no matter what happens with his teammate he should see plenty of action this season.
A former running back, the 5-10, 182 Davis has the ability to run with any receiver and that is a huge bonus for him as he continues to work on technique and fundamentals.
Best Case Scenario: Davis steps in and provides the Auburn defense with an explosive defender capable of making plays. With his quickness and power, added to Carlton Davis, Jamel Dean and Josh Holsey, gives the Tigers four solid options at cornerback/nickel cornerback. In this era of college football you have got to be able to play strong defense on the perimeter on defense if you want to be good.
Worst Case Scenario: The lack of experience is the biggest question for Davis and the cornerback position as a whole. There is a very good chance that the first action for at least one of the starters at the position will come against Clemson, which will feature perhaps the most talented offensive team in the country. That’s a tall, tall task.
Career Comparison: Because of his offensive past and speed, I think back to Rodney Crayton when looking for a comparison for Javaris Davis. While he had to fight through a couple of knee injuries, Crayton was blazing fast and brought the physicality of being a ball-carrier to the defensive backfield.
Davis At His Best: There is one play in particular that stands out on his senior highlights. Davis is playing defensive back and the opposing offense pitches the ball on the perimeter. Closing downhill in a hurry, he blasts the running back for a loss. That type of physical play is one of the reasons he should be a fun player to watch for the Tigers.
Quote: “He’s going to make a huge impact this year,” Carlton Davis said. “I think the redshirt really benefited him just to see how fast the game goes. He learned from my mistakes and other people’s mistakes. This year he’s going to come in here and make a huge impact for us. He’s 4.3 fast, quick and nice feet and physical too. He’s not your average corner.”