Without an acquisition made this summer, the Green Bay Packers will need a young player to emerge as a legitimate backup candidate behind Adrian Amos and Darnell Savage at safety. Shawn Davis, a fifth-round pick of the Indianapolis Colts in 2021 who joined the Packers practice squad last September, should have a real opportunity to win the job.
Safeties coach Ryan Downard thinks Davis has the right set of traits and is heading in the right direction mentally within the defense.
“Explosiveness, athletic ability and being able to process. And then continuing to build on ‘call command’ and being able to trust you’re going to put us into the right thing, ”Downard said Wednesday. “He’s starting to show all those things, and he’s just continued that this spring.”
The opportunity is real at safety. The Packers didn’t retain Henry Black, who played over 200 snaps and was a core special teamer last year, and the team didn’t draft a safety. At this point, Davis, Vernon Scott, Innis Gaines and 2022 seventh-round pick Tariq Carpenter are the top four competing to be backups.
It’s possible the Packers found a useful depth player in Davis, who the Colts took with the 165th overall pick in last year’s draft. He was released from the team’s practice squad in September but landed in Green Bay, where he eventually was elevated to the active roster in December. Davis appeared in one game for the Packers, playing nine special teams snaps against the Cleveland Browns on Christmas Day.
At 5-11 and 202 pounds, Davis ran the 40-yard dash in 4.55 seconds and hit 39.5 ″ in the vertical jump and 10-8 in the broad jump coming out of Florida-highlighting the explosiveness that Downard mentioned.
“I go back to when I watched his college tape, he’s a really explosive player. And I liked his tape, ”Downard said.
Before the 2021 draft, Lance Zierlein of NFL.com described Davis as a “hard-hitting safety whose size, toughness and urgent demeanor will be appealing for NFL teams looking to add some attitude on the back end.” He also said Davis has the “aggressiveness and versatility” to become either a “good back up” or “future starter.”
Davis intercepted five passes over his final 19 games at Florida. He played deep, in the box and in the slot for the Gators secondary. His best snaps came closer to the line of scrimmage.
The next step for Davis in Green Bay is consistently getting the secondary into the right coverages on the fly. Downard stresses communication. Davis can do it on the board, but now he has to prove he can get on the field and communicate calls and changes to the linebackers and cornerbacks in real time.
“Very smart player. We do a really good activity in the room where the guys get up on the board during the season, and he’ll blow you away with what he can process, ”Downard said.
Getting a chance to go through the full offseason workout program and training camp in Green Bay should only increase the comfort level for Davis in the scheme. With a strong summer, he could position himself as a key backup and core special teams player for the Packers to open the 2022 season.