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Shutdown Corner

Senior Bowl Wednesday update: Iron Bowl hero has ups, downs; Tahj Boyd rebounds

Eric Edholm
Shutdown Corner

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Chris Davis (USA Today Sports Images)

MOBILE, Ala. — Dozens of autograph seekers, most of them young boys, crowded around Auburn cornerback Chris Davis following practices this week, and Wednesday was no different.

Davis is an icon, a do-no-wrong hero who miraculously placed Auburn in the SEC title game with his end-game miracle touchdown return off a missed field goal against Alabama. Without Davis' now-famous "Kick Six" play, Auburn might never have had a chance to play for a national title this season.

"Been a lot more people looking for my autograph since the Iron Bowl," he joked while signing. "Guess that's what happens when you make that play."

But to NFL scouts watching him this week, he's also the player who was picked on in the national championship game and who allowed the game-winning touchdown pass to Kelvin Benjamin in Florida State's final-minute championship victory.

Based on that and Davis' up-and-down work this week at the Senior Bowl, his draft status is hardly a known quantity at this point.

Davis acknowledged that the past two months have been an incredible ride, even if it's one that didn't go the way he had hoped.

"The last two months have been life-changing," Davis told Shutdown Corner. "Through the whole process, I have stayed humble. You go from being on cloud nine in the Alabama game to the rough part of losing [in the BCS championship game].

"But I am focused on chasing a dream. You can never feel like you've done enough to show people what you're capable of. One play, or one game, will never do that. I know a lot of the work is yet to be done."

Davis had a slow start in Monday's practice with a few missteps in coverage and on fielding punts and kickoffs. He also looked a shaky in off coverage a few times, allowing receivers to get too much space and not closing in time on throws his way. On Wednesday, Davis appeared more comfortable and confident.

At 5-foot-9 3/4 and 201 pounds, he's not tall for the position, but he has enough bulk on his frame to jam receivers at the line. Davis also showed that he won't give up when facing taller receivers, as he fought with 6-3 Vanderbilt wideout Jordan Matthews for a 50-50 ball and made sure Matthews didn't catch it by knocking it loose.

Davis has been working as an outside corner, as he played at Auburn, and though he's willing to play nickel, he feels most confident and comfortable outside. He also said that his best work on special teams are on punts more than kickoffs.

Although he has left his mark in the hearts of fans in this state, he's focused now on winning over the scouts.

"I know I have to show even more," Davis said, "and I am confident I can do that."

Tajh Boyd stands up to criticism

Clemson QB Tajh Boyd had a rough Monday during weigh-in when he measured at 6-0 7/8, which is below the quarterback Mendoza Line for some NFL teams.

Then came a report from a Green Bay Packers scout who said Boyd was "not draftable."

His tough day continued with an uneven performance throwing the ball at practice, and only slightly better — taking high winds into consideration — on Tuesday.

On Wednesday his performance improved as the conditions got better and he built a better rapport with his new receivers and terminology.

After facing questions about his height and that some attribute his video-game numbers at Clemson (11,904 passing yards, 107 touchdowns in 40 games there) to the system the Tigers ran and the exceptional talent they had at receiver, Boyd says he takes it all in stride — and he's got a good zinger for those who question him.

"The one thing my receivers [at Clemson] and I had in common is that I threw them the football," he said. "It's not like they threw it to themselves."

Boyd believes that in this NFL era of Drew Brees, Russell Wilson and others, height is not nearly as important to the position than it was a generation ago.

"I am well over 6-foot," he said with a smile. "I am a nicely built guy."

He also mentioned that's he's actually taller than those quarterbacks, and the Kansas City Chiefs' Chase Daniel — Boyd clearly has done his homework on shorter quarterbacks — and just a shade shorter than Robert Griffin III.

The NFL is welcoming more athletic quarterbacks in recent years, and that fewer teams are trying to shoehorn those types of players into rigid, pro-style offenses when their talents don't dictate it. Boyd has taken notice.

“I feel like the game of football is evolving,” Boyd said. “It’s not so much a systematic or just a pro style, because I feel like every offense at some point or another implements that type of [running style] in their offense. The Falcons do it. Matt Ryan just doesn’t run as much but they’ve got that in their arsenal and they have that in their playbook.

"Whatever a coach has on his roster, he’s going to adjust to it. He’s not going to force a guy to play in his system if it’s not built for him, so whatever team I play for, I’m going to learn the system as well as possible and just try to make the most out of it.”

Boyd is an athletic quarterback. But he also doesn't want to be put into a box as far as his style goes.

“I feel like it’s just not as much of a deal as it used to be. Obviously, you’ve got your [Tom Bradys] and your [Peyton Mannings],” Boyd said. “You can sit there and talk about Andrew Luck, but Andrew Luck can run with the best of them, he just doesn’t get that stigma.

"You’ve got to be competitive, and you’ve got to be athletic in the game these days because defensive ends are running 4.4s out here, so you’ve got to be able to move a little bit unless your line is just a stone wall. I feel like I am more of a passer anyways. I don’t really like to run as much, so if I can sit back there and throw the ball, that would be great with me.”

This week has seen Boyd operating heavily out of a pro system, which the Atlanta Falcons run and are implementing in practice, and he's doing his best to show that he can do a lot of that type of work effectively, too.

"I feel like I am can make every throw. Obviously, there are some things that I can fix with dropping back, coming from a shotgun offense, but I don't have a problem with it.

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Eric Edholm is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at edholm@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter!

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