The first thing everyone notices about Raekwon Davis is his size.
Davis, a rookie defensive tackle, is the tallest Dolphin, at a staggering 6-feet-7 and he’s also the heaviest defensive player, at 330 pounds.
“My first impression, when I first saw him was, ‘This is the biggest dude I’ve ever seen,'” Dolphins nickel cornerback Nik Needham said.
“He’s a big guy,” Dolphins offensive lineman Jesse Davis said. “He’s tough to deal with.”
The second thing anyone who’s been watching Raekwon Davis play would notice over the past five weeks is this — he’s making his presence felt in a big way.
“The sky is the limit for him,” Dolphins defensive line coach Marion Hobby said. “He’s just different. The body type, everything. The sky is the limit.”
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Davis is coming. And he’s coming hard. And he’s coming fast.
The Dolphins spent a high second-round draft choice on Davis in April. But in his first six games, he had only seven tackles.
In the five games Davis played in November, he posted 21 tackles. Only two defensive linemen in the NFL posted more. Two!
“Just a better preparation,” Davis said, explaining the jump.
Davis explained that early in the season, he struggled with how and when to rush the passer and also to understand what the offense was trying to do in the run game.
“The fundamental part,” Davis said. “Actually, right now, I’m starting to make plays off of it. Now I’ve just got to go out there and make more plays.”
Lately, Davis has been lining up over the opposing teams’ center. And Davis has such long arms and is so powerful that he almost automatically takes two men to stop.
“I think when you turn on the film, Raekwon, he’s been working extremely hard at practice and I think there were some good things,” Dolphins defensive coordinator Josh Boyer said.
Boyer stressed that Davis will need to be consistent. That’s so often the knock on the biggest, most talented big men. Can they bring it consistently?
“It’s been definitely good to kind of see him grow and develop,” Dolphins defensive tackle Christian Wilkins said. “I feel like every rookie goes through those growing pains. It’s an adjustment from college to the pros, regardless of how good you are or how highly drafted you are. It’s an adjustment for everybody. Luckily for him, he’s been able to improve each day in practice and each week. He’s learning how to become more of a pro.”
When the Dolphins drafted Davis, coach Brian Flores was seen on video celebrating from his home office. Clearly Flores felt Davis could fill a massive void in the middle of Miami’s defensive front. And that he’d bring prototypical size.
Lately, Davis has been showing why Flores was so excited. Miami has needed a wide-reaching, muscular, towering presence capable of collapsing pockets. Jesse Davis, the offensive lineman, thinks Raekwon Davis, the defensive linemen, has some answers.
“Whenever you get a guy that big, it’s hard to move,” Jesse Davis said. “It’s hard to get leverage. Obviously the low man wins, but he also comes off the ball pretty fast. He’s got the physicality nature of the game.”
Raekwon Davis did not shy away from the notion that he has Pro Bowl potential.
“Hell yeah,” he said. “That’s a goal. That’s something I want to accomplish.”
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