Jarrad Davis would 'love to finish' with Lions but his days might be numbered

Justin Rogers
The Detroit News

Sometimes, even when you do everything right, things don't work out. 

Monday through Saturday, Jarrad Davis was everything the Detroit Lions could have hoped for when they drafted him in the first round of the 2017 draft. Hard-working with unimpeachable character, he was voted a captain each of the past three seasons. 

Jared Davis

But on Sundays, Davis never lived up to the lofty investment the franchise made in him. Now, with an expiring contract, and new leadership on the way, Sunday could very likely be the linebacker's final game as a member of the Lions. 

"I really don't know," Davis said. "That's a lot of stuff to think about really for this offseason. Anything I do, I live in the moment. We still got one more game left, so after that, who knows what the future holds for me? One thing is I am excited about it, whether that's here in Detroit, whether that's somewhere else, but I truly don't know.

"I started here," Davis continued. "I would love to finish here. I love being here. But, it's just wherever God chooses to take me, that's where I'm going, whether it's here or somewhere else. It's something that I haven't really put a lot into."

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As a rookie, Davis was immediately thrust into a starting role as the team's middle linebacker. Coverage and tackling proved to be issues that year, which led to a reduced role down the stretch.

He rebounded his second year, arguably his best season, making all-around improvements while playing nearly 99 percent of the defensive snaps. He also unlocked a new tool in his skill set, racking up 6.0 sacks as a highly effective blitzer.

It felt, at the time, Davis was turning a corner. 

But 2019 brought regression, which could partially be attributed to a high ankle sprain he suffered in the preseason that lingered throughout the year. And in 2020, after the team declined his fifth-year option and brought in a new defensive coordinator and position coach, Davis slid down the depth chart, playing fewer than 20 defensive snaps in seven contests and more than 50 percent just once after Week 2. 

"Man, one thing my grandpa always used to tell me to do is just do my best," Davis said. "I just came out and did everything I could to put my best foot forward, no matter what circumstance, no matter what the situation was, and always just try to be a vessel to motivate my teammates every Sunday that we stepped out on the field.

"Things may not have always turned out in our favor, but it's one of those things that I'm committed to what I do, man," Davis continued. "I'm just committed to being here. I love being here. It's an opportunity to play football, and I love this game above all else. It hasn't always gone the best way, or the way I may have wanted it to go, but just something that I've always looked at as a learning lesson."

Davis still has faith things will work out in his career. He acknowledged he's struggled out the gate at every level, before his hard work and talent would eventually pay off. And while the struggles in Detroit have likely gone on far longer than he could have imagined, given the arc of his high school and college careers, he believes he'll eventually hit his stride in the NFL. 

"Me, I got a flaw, I try to be a perfectionist," Davis said. "When it's not right or doesn't go my way, I get down on myself. At the end of the day, I still come in, I still put the work in. I don't let anything get in the way of the work because that's what I'm doing to fall back on at the end of the day. When things really get tough, yeah, it's been challenging, yeah, it's been hard, but this isn't like -- I still got a opportunity to come out here and put work in and  just go and just play. I appreciate that more than anything. If I lost that confidence, I wouldn't be around. I wouldn't be playing football."