Chief Concerns: Desmond Bailey (@CCWriterDez)
There’s a very intense war being waged within some decimated, blackened corner of my mind. The subject of my mental conflict? Knile Davis – the halfback selected by the Kansas City Chiefs with the 96th overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft.
I imagine my brain cells divided into two factions — Pro-Knile and Anti-Knile — shooting it out in a small, abandoned, Western-European town circa 1940′s…scrambling for cover amongst the leaning, bombed-out skeletons of what, at one time or another, was a city square bustling with activity. But this isn’t Saving Private Ryan or Band of Brothers.
The Pro-Knile camp is adamant that Davis will emerge as the best pick of the Chiefs 2013 class and arguably one of the best backs drafted this year. Meanwhile, the Anti-Knile contingent gives Davis 5-6 years tops before he’s out of the league entirely after an underwhelming, injury-plagued pro career compounded with a further-established reputation for fumbling.
The Pro-Knile View
Davis’ 2010 season says it all. As a sophomore, the kid led the SEC in rushing – 1,322 yds,13 TD’s – was voted 1st-team,All-SEC and considered a 1st-round talent. He also boasted outstanding combine numbers including a 4.37 40-yd dash and 31 reps of 225 lbs on the bench press. He still flashed 2010 ability in 2012 after missing 2011 with injury. He has excellent straight-line speed, is an awesome cutback runner, has good vision and is without question a home-run threat. He’s got good size and can pound it. There isn’t another back on the Chiefs roster, other than Jamaal Charles, that possesses the sort of skillset, upside, and threat-level that Davis does. When healthy he’s one of the most electrifying runners from this class.
Sure, he missed all of 2011 with injury and returned in 2012 to post lackluster numbers while he was still recovering. However, typically, the further removed from major injury these guys get, the better they perform. That means Davis should be at or near where he was in 2010 when he BEASTED and took the SEC – arguably the nation’s toughest conference – by storm. Remember these rookies go through insanely intense medical examinations before the draft. Obviously, Davis has a clean bill of health and is ready to go.
People try and argue that KC could’ve landed Davis later but who can say that for sure? We don’t know what KC’s board looked like nor what information they had in regards to other teams targeting Davis. Also, when you examine things more closely, they didn’t reach. It was compensatory selection at the end of the 3rd round which essentially is a 4th round pick – an area where it isn’t unusual for teams to bank on a guy with substantial upside and promise, especially if they feel his flaws are correctable through quality coaching and a system that will maximize his talents.
Also, don’t underestimate this kid’s drive and motivation. He seems fully aware that he’s got much to prove and seems eager to do so. He’s got a chip on his shoulder but also has a good attitude and welcomes coaching. That’s a rare combination of mental traits. That can go a long way. When guy’s run angry, they run hard which usually means big yards and touchdowns. Andy Reid sees something in Davis…something that could payoff for the Chiefs both in the short and long term.
The Anti-Knile View
The guy’s a workout warrior. Sure he did well in the 40 and bench press….but failed to place amongst the top-performering HB’s in the vertical jump (33.5 inches/ ranked 16th), three-cone drill (6.96 secs/ 11th), short shuttle (4.38 secs/15th) and broad jump (10.1 feet/ 10th) – all drills that significantly test how much he can explode off those apparently brittle ankles of his. He’s broken both (the right one twice) along with his collar bone in the past. Where’s the agility? He can’t improvise. In 2012, he was tackled for a total loss of 67 yard on 112 rushing attempts. His fellow rushing-mate, HB Dennis Johnson lost just 19 yds on 137 attempts behind the same offensive line.
With plenty of other, more durable and arguably more talented backs on the board, you don’t gamble on one with a set of bad wheels that have plagued him since high school. TE Tony Moeaki is a prime example of what happens when you give more weight to potential and upside than an extensive and proven history of injury. Since his junior year in high school, Davis has finished just ONE season (2010) without missing games due to injury.
Then there’s the fumbles. Chiefs already have a back in Charles that needs to rein in the fumbles…don’t need another…especially a rookie still adjusting to the speed of the game. Andy Reid and his staff can try and drill it into Davis’ head all they want but in the heat of the moment, he’ll have mental lapses that could change games for the worse.
Lastly, some argue Davis will add power and short yardage effectiveness but there’s no power consistently displayed by him on film. Yeah, 31 reps on the bench….but where’s the functional strength? He goes down easy. Unlike Le’Veon Bell or Eddie Lacy, Davis didn’t break a lot of tackles and doesn’t seek to punish anyone. That’s probably best for him….I’m sure he doesn’t wanna re-fracture that collarbone trying to lower the shoulder on a DB near the sideline.
It’s admirable that Davis is a good kid who is motivated to silence his critics but his brain and mouth may be writing checks that his body can’t cash.
And there you have it – the divide that’s threatening to crack my skull if a resolution isn’t reached soon. Both sides at least agree on two things:
1) The Chiefs needed to add another quality back to the stable either via free agency or the draft and…
2) Davis will either be a bigtime boom or a colossal failure – there’s no middle ground.
Only time will tell. Personally, I’m torn. How about you?
Talk to ya later