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Jamin Davis adds more speed to what's becoming a faster WFT originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington
In Washington Football coach Ron Rivera's mind, playing fast and playing with tempo are as important for a successful football player as taking the field with shoulder pads and cleats. That's why the WFT's selection of Jamin Davis in the first round of the draft on Thursday night makes sense in hindsight, even if Davis wasn't the most predictable pick in the moment.
The Kentucky linebacker only has one year as a starter and needs to shore up things like his tackling in order to truly deliver on where he was chosen, but he does possess one quality that should make that task a lot easier: Speed.
"He plays fast," Rivera said late Thursday (see, it's always on the top of his mind!). "From the time he's getting ready for the play to the time the play is over. You put tape on, you watch guys before the ball is snapped, they're lumbering around. When the offense gets to the ball, he's ready to go. His movement is fast. The play is happening, the play is going away and he's going to the ball. He doesn't play behind the ball, he tries to get in front of the ball."
Before Davis joined Washington, Rivera and Jack Del Rio's former position consisted of players including Jon Bostic, Cole Holcomb, Khaleke Hudson and David Mayo. Of that crew, Holcomb owned the best athletic profile, but Davis — who earned grades of 90 and above in many physical testing categories as he put together a report card that any student would be envious of — overtook that title the second his phone rang with a Virginia area code.
And, when you evaluate Washington's offseason as a whole, you begin to see how he fits into the bigger picture.
In free agency, Rivera and the front office signed Curtis Samuel and William Jackson III, a wideout and a corner who both ran their 40-yard dashes in under 4.4 seconds. In other words, those two and Davis won't be losing many footraces at FedEx Field. The same goes for Terry McLaurin, Antonio Gibson and Montez Sweat.
General manager Martin Mayhew spoke to why he's made finding such contributors such a priority over the past few months.
"Team speed is very important," Mayhew said. "Especially on the defensive side of the ball in terms of shutting other people down, being able to cover ground in the secondary, being about to get guys on the ground. Offensively, explosive plays by guys that have speed.
"We're looking for fast players, we want physical players, and we want smart players and Jamin is all of those things."
Judging by Rivera's comments, Davis won't be the last burner Washington targets, either.
"I saw that in several guys," he told reporters. "There are some good players that we still have on the board going forward that have a good tempo about the way they play."
For too many years, it felt like Washington has consistently been outmatched by opponents from a straight speed perspective. Fortunately, Rivera — who's already changed so much about the franchise — appears fixated on fixing that flaw next. By nabbing Davis, in fact, it's getting closer and closer to becoming a strength.