Secret Gem: UDFA Cody Davis

David Welker

UDFA's can make a team and could even make an impact. This year, that player could be safety Cody Davis.

The St. Louis Rams had another impressive draft, but just because the draft is over doesn't mean that the Rams couldn't still find rookies. The Rams also put together a solid undrafted free agent (UDFA) class. It's always a long shot for an UDFA to make an NFL team, but stranger things have happened. Sometimes these players can develop and make an impact. (See: Arian Foster)

This year, that player could end up being former Texas Tech safety Cody Davis. The 6'2, 200+ lbs safety ran a 4.4 at the Super Regional Combine, so you know that he has the physical tools coaches like in a player.


So with a little help from Will, "THE" writer for Ramsherd - who also did a piece on Davis and two more UDFA's on his site - let's take a more detailed look at Cody Davis.

Cody Davis stats

DEFENSE G SOLO ASST. TOTAL SACKS/YDS TFL/YARDS FF FR P DEF INT/YDS
2009 12 58 23 81 -- 2 / 3 -- -- 6 --
2010 13 68 19 87 1 / 7 7 / 30 3 1 4 1 / 0
2011 11 72 21 93 -- 3 / 5 1 -- 5 --
2012 13 84 17 101 -- 4 / 8 -- -- 7 3 / 88
TOTAL 49 282 80 362 1 / 7 16 / 46 4 1 22 4 / 88

Why wasn't Davis drafted?

Davis had the size and the stats, but he wasn't even drafted. Davis doesn't seem like a guy with bad character, in fact he seems to have the 4 pillars down pat. To discover why Davis wasn't drafted, you have to look at the tape. Because if you look at his stats and combine numbers you'll see a mid-round pick.

  • Here's a couple of reasons
  • He ran a good 40, but he didn't play with that speed at Tech, yet he looked faster during the Shrine Game.
  • He took steps forward when he was playing deep, and that lead to the opposing team going deep.
  • He bit on playactions hard.
  • This was a great class for safeties.

Combine all of those and that's most likely why he wasn't drafted.

How the Rams should use Davis

He looks like a strong safety right now to me. Like I mentioned earlier, he does take false steps forward and can get burnt deep. However, he does possess great straight line speed and when he sees a ball carrier he makes a beeline for him. He's great navigating through traffic during running plays, and is a great tackler.

I'm not saying that he can't play deep. Davis could be a really good last line of defense, and this is a team that had Craig Dahl covering deep. However, he doesn't look comfortable enough at the back end and doesn't look like a play maker back there.

So below are some cutups from the East West Shrine Game.

A couple of key plays that stood out.

0:13 Davis is one of the first players down the field in kickoff coverage and helped tackle the ball carrier

0:21 Look at how he moved into traffic and weaved his way to stop Rams' 5th round pick Zac Stacy for a minimal gain.

0:57 He does it again on kickoff coverage.

How Will from Ramsherd.com sees Davis

When I first saw tape of Cody Davis (and granted, there’s not a lot of it that is publicly available, as a far-less-sought-after recruit), I saw the opposite approach. Davis is a sure, fundamental tackler who wraps up on every play, and who very rarely gives up yards after contact. However, he also very rarely "blows a guy up." So you might not see the forced fumble count that you will from a guy like McDonald.

What Davis does do, though, especially when he is able to sit in a zone and read a route, is play the ball. This shows up consistently on his tape. He has very quick hands, and fluidity throughout his frame overall. This fluidity helps him weave through traffic and get his pad level low enough to cut down a run, or play through a receiver to make a play on the ball.

Combine these skills with his tested speed (sub-4.4 40 time) and vertical, and it’s not surprising to hear that the Rams are working him out at free safety. It’s also not hard to imagine him sticking there, given the lack of competition on the roster. His long-term ceiling is in the hands of the Rams’ coaching staff, though. Modern NFL passing attacks are focused on stressing safeties, which makes the prospect of giving heavy playing time to a pair of rookies a big-time gamble.

What's the chance of Davis making the team

Davis has a really good chance of making the roster. The Rams needed bodies at safety since both of last years starters - Craig Dahl and Quintin Mikell - left the team this off-season. Luckily, the Rams found a talented, smart player who could end up being a good piece in the Rams system.

Of course, he'll have to work on the little things, but Davis will be an asset on special teams day one, and he could push for playing time as the third safety. Could he end up starting for the Rams one day? Too early to tell, but then again, Craig Dahl did so, anything is possible.

If you want to keep up with Davis, here's his blog. He even has one about the West Virginia game.

Tape to watch on Davis

Cody Davis vs West Virginia (2012) (via Aaron Aloysius)

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