LB Akeem Davis-Gaither, Appalachian St.

6’2” – 215 lbs.

Appeared in all thirteen games in each of his first three seasons, going 16-2.5-1.5 as a reserve during his freshman year, and 33-1.0-0.0 as a sophomore, a year in which he started three games. Stepped into a starting role as a junior and posted a line of 105-10.0-1.5. Had a similarly productive senior year to finish his career (104-14.5-5.0). Team captain who lines up everywhere; usually plays as more of a traditional weakside linebacker, or rushes the passer from the edge. On the small side for a linebacker, but has long limbs and the frame to add additional bulk; may be asked to gain at least another ten to fifteen pounds upon reaching the NFL. Given his frame, it’s a bit of a surprise that his most impressive tape comes as a run defender. Reads keys well and takes sound if circuitous angles to the ball. Active with his hands and gets good extension with his arms to prevent would-be blockers from getting into his frame. Has the flexibility and quickness to work his way through congestion without being engaged; able to dip his shoulder and slip under/around opposing offensive linemen to make a tackle. Length gives him an impressive tackling radius; does a good job of breaking down and using effective wrap technique to sling runners to the ground. Has enough speed to chase toward the sidelines and make tackles near the boundaries. Demonstrates good discipline when left open on the backside. Was a pretty productive pass-rusher this past season but doesn’t have the most refined approach at this point; prevents blockers from getting into his frame but doesn’t have many moves and often ends up around the line of scrimmage. Does flash some ability to challenge the edge with speed, and has the speed to chase down quarterbacks who flee the pocket. Good short-area quickness to attack the outside and cross a blocker’s frame to get inside penetration. Gets his hands up to contest passing lanes. Played in some shallow zones as well, but it would be nice to see him get more depth and do a better job of keeping the play in front of him; can be a split-second slow to react at times and doesn’t always have the speed to recover. Looks more comfortable playing downhill. That said, has solid plant-and-drive skills and can make tackles in the open field. When pattern-matching, flashes the ability to place his hands and feel routes when passing receivers off into the next zone. A lanky, flexible linebacker with the instincts and athleticism to handle all sorts of roles defensively, he looks like a candidate to come off the board on the second day.

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