Does UDFA Malik Davis have what it takes to weave his way into Cowboys RB room?

·5 min read

Former Gators running back Malik Davis was quite accomplished coming out of high school, where he ran for a county-best 2,469 yards and 33 touchdowns during his senior season and led his high school to a state championship game appearance. He then committed to the University of Florida but was unable to ever find consistent playing time.

His first two seasons at Florida were hindered by injuries, playing in 7 games in his freshman year before suffering a season-ending injury, and playing in just three his sophomore year before suffering yet another. He returned in 2020 as a redshirt sophomore and appeared in 12 games, followed by 12 more the following year earning his first two starts. In his last year at Florida he earned the starting role but still was used in a heavy rotation. As an undrafted free agent, the odds are stacked against him in making the Cowboys final roster, but does Davis have what it takes to become a find instead of a camp body?

Measurables and Stats

Listed Height: 5-foot-9

Listed Weight: 207 pounds

Jersey Number: 20

Rushing Stats (2021): 92 carries, 487 yards, 5 touchdowns

Receiving Stats (2021): 23 receptions, 217 yards, 2 touchdowns

Film Study Information:

Games Watched: Alabama (2021), Tennessee (2021), Georgia (2021)

Best Game: Tennessee (2021)

Worst Game: Georgia (2021)

Physical Skills Evaluation:

Contact Balance: Has flashed the ability to put his hand on the ground and stabilize himself as he is stumbling, but don’t see him running through any tackles and maintaining his balance. 

Pass Catching: Sent on wheel routes out of the backfield, also see him take snaps spilt out at receiver. Shows reliable hands, is capable of going up and high pointing the football. 

Pass Blocking: Don’t see many pass protection snaps from him, but he held his own in the reps we saw. Was able to ID blitzing linebackers and pick them up quite effectively. He was able to redirect momentum from his lower half to his upper body quite well. 

Durability: Was constantly rotates out in Florida’s offense, so there is quite a bit of tread left on his tires. Able to be left on the field all three downs, but is more reliable as a third down to start with while he develops as a runner. 

Long Speed: Ran a 4.66 40-yard dash, which was good for the 27th percentile, but his 10-yard split was 1.55 which was good for the 66th percentile. So he is quicker than fast and it shows on tape, lacks the long speed to gain the edge and score on long runs, but can be effective in short areas. 

Performance Evaluation:

Vision: Controlled runner, waits for his blocks to develop before committing. When he sees the hole open up, he is quick to explode through it. Has flashed the ability and quickness to bounce runs to the outside.

Change of Direction Skills: One cut style of back, prefers to get north to south rather than dance around and make people miss. Is capable of making a man miss in the open field, but rarely will you see a run from him with multiple forced missed tackles. When he does force a missed tackle, he sets up defenders well. 

Ball Security: Had 4 fumbles in his career over 276 attempts, so ball security isn’t a major concern for Davis.

Creativity: Might be his worst trait, never really saw him create out of structure. Very much a north to south type of runner and preferred to get downhill following his blocks. Has few and far between examples of bouncing runs to the outside, and when he does he lacks the long speed to gain the edge. 

Strength: Shows adequate strength in redirecting power from his lower body to his upper body in pass protection, but don’t see him run through many tackles. 

Strengths:

Reliable pass catcher and spends time split out as receiver and can catch coming out of the backfield. Despite his size, he holds up surprisingly well in pass protection. Attacks with a good base and is able to redirect power from his lower body to his upper body effectively. Used in a stable of running backs at Florida so there is plenty of tread on his tires.

Weaknesses:

Long speed is the biggest concern that pops off tape for Davis, he ran a 4.66 40-yard dash which put him in the 27th percentile. It shows on film as he is unable to gain the edge quite often and never really saw him break off a long run. Possess only ordinary vision and you won’t see him create out of structure a lot. Has below average contact balance and you won’t see him run through many tacklers. Is a one cut style of back and you will rarely see him force more than one missed tackle on a run.

Fit with the Cowboys:

The path for Davis to make the Cowboys is a pretty obvious one, and is a path that coaches preach constantly. That path is special teams. It might not be as a return man, but Davis possesses exceptional blocking ability despite his size. If he is able to earn himself a role on special teams, it is possible to see him develop into the teams’ third-down back as Tony Pollard is in a contract year, and there is no guarantee he is on the Cowboys following the 2022 season.

Davis is a good receiving threat and spent time catching passes out of the backfield and split out as a receiver. He did run a limited route tree in his time at Florida, so he will likely need development there, but that is not impossible to develop. Ezekiel Elliot and Pollard are locks to make the final roster, but behind them there are question marks. If Davis can show he is worth keeping over Rico Dowdle and JaQuan Hardy there is a path for him to make the Cowboys final roster.

Prospect Grade:

Vision (15)

9

Change of Direction Skills (10)

7

Contact Balance (10)

4.5

Long Speed (10)

2.7

Pass Catching (10)

8.2

Ball Security (10)

8

Pass Blocking (10)

8

Creativity (10)

2

Durability (5)

3.8

Strength (10)

4

Final Grade:

57.2, 7th round player

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