The past 18 hours have been a whirlwind for Washington Football Team first-round pick Jamin Davis as he has tried to soak in as much new information as possible, but there are two factors that can help put the former Kentucky linebacker's mind at ease.
The first is that head coach Ron Rivera believes Davis can handle anything he throws at the rookie. He has the position flexibility to perform at all three positions, and he already knows how to play with a fast tempo. Both of those are traits Rivera places in high regard.
The second is that if he does need any help, he'll be playing behind one of the best defensive fronts in the NFL. That alone is enough to help any young player as he adapts to the high intensity of being a professional player, and Davis is thrilled to work alongside them.
"It means the world to me," Davis said after he was drafted. "That was always something I looked forward to was playing behind great guys...and taking it with a full head of steam and just making sure that I'm all over the place to make plays with them."
Davis is used to being part of a dominant defense. Over the past two seasons, the Wildcats have owned one of the best units in the SEC. Leading the conference against the pass in 2019 and 2020 helped put it in the top five in terms of yards allowed (324.4 in 2019 and 380.7 in 2020).
But even when the Wildcats' pass-rush was at its best in 2019 -- the unit combined for 33.0 sacks that season -- it still did not compare to what Davis will have in front of him during his rookie season. Washington's defensive front alone accounted for 34 of the team's 47 sacks in 2020.
The quartet of first-round picks of Jonathan Allen, Daron Payne, Montez Sweat and last year's Defensive Rookie of the Year Chase Young can make life a lot easier for a player like Davis in a multitude of ways. And it's not just about putting pressure on quarterbacks to create more opportunities for turnovers, of which Davis had three in 2020. All four of them are team-driven players, so they will have no problem creating lanes for Davis to stuff running backs at the line of scrimmage.
That's why Davis said on the Washington Football Talk podcast that he "can't wait" to be on the field with them.
"Just being behind guys that are going to open it up for me and just giving me a chance to learn everything I can to make plays all over the field," Davis said.
Davis has already gotten a glimpse of what being Young's teammate will be like. He had the opportunity to watch Washington play last season -- he thinks it was the team's playoff game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers -- and remembers seeing Young flying around, being a vocal leader and making plays all over the field.
"That is something I would not mind stepping into," Davis said. "I am going to try and do the same exact thing."
Part of Rivera and general manager Martin Mayhew’s reasoning for taking Davis is because he possesses a bevy of qualities that Young also happens to possess. Aside from his production, which included being one of four SEC players to average 10 tackles per game, Davis is a perfect fit for Washington’s culture. He is more concerned about his team than about himself, and that was clear during his pre-draft meetings with Rivera.
"It was always about, 'We did this as a team, the guys are like this,'" Rivera said. "So, the conversation really wasn't just about him, him, and that really struck me as a positive as well. His football acumen was outstanding talking about the way he played, the things that he did, how they did things. That is the kind of stuff that really led me thinking this is the right kind of young man that can fit into our program."
And like Young and his fellow defensive linemen, Davis is dedicated to being a hard worker who tries to be as prepared as possible. His mentality is simple: there is no reason to take a rep off, whether it's on the field or in the weight room. He never knows when his last opportunity is going to come, so he believes he should play "100 miles per hour at all times."
He also does not care where his coaches put him on defense; he just wants to do whatever he can to help his team.
"Honestly, just learning everything I can so I can be thrown right into the fire and make an immediate impact," Davis said when asked about his plans entering training camp. "That is one of the first things I asked: how soon can I get started?"
Even though they haven't played together yet, it sounds like Davis, Young and the rest of Washington's defensive front are going to get along just fine. And now that the team's front seven consists of five like-minded first-rounders, its defense is slated to be even more terrifying for offenses.
"Now that everything happened the way it did," Davis said, "I'm just ready to show the world who I am."