Akeem Davis-Gaither Overview
Weight: 224 pounds
School: Appalachian State
NFL Combine Performance Data
Bench Press: 21 reps
Akeem Davis-Gaither 2020 NFL Draft Profile
After five years with the Appalachian State Mountaineers, linebacker Akeem Davis-Gaither is looking to take his game to the professional level. The redshirt senior is coming off arguably the best season of his young career. Playing in 886 snaps, Davis-Gaither recorded 67 tackles, 28 assists, and 15 missed tackles.
Davis-Gaither initially entered the college football landscape as a two-star recruit. Despite the relatively low ranking, he still managed to draw some interest from Boston College, Charlotte, and Appalachian State. He eventually chose App State and spent the early portion of his career primarily riding the bench. He finally earned a starting job in 2018 and had a strong campaign, recording 59 tackles, 24 assists, and 18 missed tackles on 819 snaps.
- Smooth, free-flowing movement and rarely wastes a step getting to his target;
- Effective blitzer with strength far greater than his size would indicate;
- Instinctual player with a high football IQ;
- Lateral movement skills to slip past offensive linemen;
- Doesn’t let his size limit him and plays like a 6’-4”, 250-pound linebacker;
- Good in pursuit – can chase down ball carrier from across the field.
- Struggles to consistently wrap up ball carrier;
- Small for the position and will need to add muscle;
- Aggressive tendencies can lead to over pursuing the play;
- Nothing special in coverage;
- Consistently tries to win with agility more than strength – this could be an issue defending the run;
- Won’t work out unless he lands with a creative coach that will use him in a multitude of ways.
NFL Comparison: Riley Bullough
Teams With Need at Position: Carolina Panthers, Cincinnati Bengals, Detroit Lions, Green Bay Packers, Jacksonville Jaguars, Los Angeles Rams, Philadelphia Eagles, Tennessee Titans, Washington Redskins
Projection: 4th Round
Bottom Line on Akeem Davis-Gaither
Akeem Davis-Gaither would have a bright NFL future if he was just a little bigger. The Appalachian State product moves as smoothly as any linebacker in this class, isn’t afraid to get physical, and should be effective as a blitzer. He’s a smart player that tends to know where the ball is going and can get to the ball carrier quickly. This anticipation, combined with his football IQ, allows him to chase down plays from the opposite side of the field. Even though he is small, he plays bigger than his size and isn’t afraid to make plays in the box.
Unfortunately, outplaying your size in college and the NFL are two different things. Davis-Gaither struggled with missed tackles in college, and that will probably only get worse in the NFL. No matter how sound the fundamentals, it’s hard to ask a 6’-1”, 224-pound linebacker to consistently win against NFL offensive linemen and bring down NFL running backs. He’s strong, but not disproportionately strong, so he is going to struggle in this regard. There is definitely an NFL player in here, and the right coaching staff should be able to effectively utilize him situationally. However, unless he’s an extreme outlier, he probably won’t be able to ever start with his current build.