Player Profile: Buster Davis

The little linebacker (although I wouldn't call him little to his face) from Florida State is now an Arizona Cardinal. Is he too short to play football for this team? How does he fit in and how can he help?

Buster Davis is an excellent example of a player that is blacklisted from the NFL simply based on one aspect: Measurables.  He's short, he's probably too light, and he just doesn't seem like he would be a sufficient middle linebacker at the NFL level.

The same was said about London Fletcher and Zach Thomas, by the way.

However, it remains to be seen how he measures up in a linebacking corps where the shortest player is 6'1".  That player, though, happens to be Gerald Hayes, the middle linebacker that Davis hopes to replace.

Positives:

Outstanding instincts.  One of those players that always seems to be "around the ball."  When you stop the tape, you always see Buster Davis.  This is evidenced by his 200 tackles, 19.5 tackles for loss, and seven sacks (a big number for a middle linebacker in a 4-3 scheme) over the last two seasons of Seminole football.

Non-stop motor and a guy that will chase a runner all over the field.

Tremendous college production, even if he got overshadowed by the likes of Ernie Sims and A.J. Nicholson during his time in Tallahassee.

Played every linebacker position during his five seasons (one red shirt).

Players from Florida State (especially on defense) seem to enjoy long, successful NFL careers.

Negatives:

He's small for a middle linebacker.  At 5'9", 240, he's kind of big to play safety.  And, in a defense that seems to gravitate towards size (only player on defense under 5'10", one of four players under 6' - the rest are defensive backs), he may end up on the short end of the stick.  Yes.  That pun was intended.

Because of his size, he's a "run and chase" player that does not take on blocks well and tends to get caught up in the garbage in the middle of the field.  Not what you are looking for when it comes to a Mike linebacker.

Usually, small guys are fast.  His 40 time (took the best from the Combine and his Pro Day) is a very pedestrian 4.69.

Analysis:

I'm going to take a page out of Troy Smith's book and say that we're talking about being 5'9" like it's a disease.  Davis is a good football player with a nose for the ball that will most likely make a lot of teams sorry for passing on him because he's short.

FSU's legendary defensive coordinator called him "the bell cow" of the defense because the rest of the defenders followed his lead and he is never quiet.  I don't know about anyone else, but I want a guy like that on the team.

The issue persists that he is still too small and will still get too absorbed in traffic (or, worse yet, "run and chase" himself out of the play) too often to be effective as a middle linebacker in the 4-3.

It's my position, though, that the Cardinals did not draft Davis to play Mike in the 4-3, but to play Buck in the 3-4.  The Buck linebacker in the 3-4 is a position that requires guts, instincts, the ability and tenacity to chase down a play, and sound tackling fundamentals.  For the most part, this player is isolated in the scheme to have a clear shot at the guy with the ball.

If Clancy Pendergast is smart, he's designing plays right now that allow Davis to do what he does best: Listen for the snap and go get the ball carrier.

Davis also capped off a good "value" day for Arizona, since he was taken 69th overall and we had him as the 44th-rated prospect.

He's someone that can help immediately in the 3-4, provide quality depth behind Hayes, and contribute on special teams.  Not a bad way to close out the first day.

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