The former Akron standout will visit at least six NFL teams this month

The NFL draft has been called Christmas in April. It’s got Jamal Davis II feeling like a kid again.

“I was just telling my mom how, when I was little, it took forever for Christmas to get there,” said Davis, a Canton McKinley High graduate. “Now, Christmas comes quick. But I’m waiting for the draft and it seems like it’s taking forever.”

It’s been more than five months since Davis played his last college game for the University of Akron and he’s kept himself busy, putting together strong performances at the NFL combine and the Zips’ pro day. The personable Davis will spend April traveling the country, doing workouts and interviews with at least six NFL teams: the Titans, Ravens, Saints, Browns, Falcons and Chiefs.

“I’m looking forward to it,” Davis said last week. “I’m loving every part of this process.”

Davis (6-4, 245), who projects as a mid-round pick, is coming off the best season of his college career. He finished third on the team in tackles (82, including 48 solo) and led the Zips (4-8, 2-6) in tackles for loss (16) and sacks (5.5). He also had an interception and forced a fumble, earning second team All-Mid-American Conference honors.

Davis then put on a show at the combine, finishing first among edge rushers in the 60-yard shuttle (11.78 seconds), third in the three-cone drill (7 seconds), fifth in the 40 (4.6 seconds) and 11th in the 20-yard shuttle (4.44 seconds). He also placed second in the vertical jump (39 inches) and fifth in the broad jump (10 feet, 2 inches).

“I was so happy with the results,” he said. “I put in so much work and I was just so happy to be in the top five in the majority of the drills. I jumped what I wanted to jump, I ran what I wanted to run and I looked good in drills.”

Davis stood on his combine numbers at Akron’s pro day, but still participated in position drills. Once he gets to the NFL, he will either play linebacker (his high school and early college position) or defensive end (his position the last two seasons).

“I knew I had a lot of momentum coming out of the combine, but I still wanted to do the drills,” he said. “We had all 32 NFL teams there, which is the first time Akron has done that in a while, plus some CFL teams, so I wanted to put on a show. I felt confident in what I did out there. It was another great day.”

Davis has befriended several NFL players — Steelers RB James Connor (his former teammate at Pitt), Chiefs QB Pat Mahomes, Buccaneers TE O.J. Howard, Bengals LB Malik Jefferson and Raiders WR Antonio Brown, among them — and he’s sought their advice for every step of the pre-draft process.

“They’re all telling me the same thing, just take the process cool and smooth,” he said. “Don’t think about it too much. Just go out to the combine and show what you’ve got. Go hard and handle yourself well.

“It’s just a blessing to have all these guys see potential in me. They know I’m going to be where they’re at, so they don’t treat me like a dumb rookie. They’re trying to help me.”

Davis admitted that, early in the process, he read the scouting reports and mock drafts whenever his name was mentioned, but no longer.

“People told me to ignore all that outside business,” he said. “Nobody knows what’s going to happen except the front office people. I don’t look at it anymore.”

Davis grew up rooting for the Browns — mainly because his mom is a fan — but said he now roots for players, not teams. His new favorite team will be the one that drafts him.

“It would be a blessing to go anywhere,” he said. “Anywhere I can go and be an asset and an improvement to their team, whether it’s special teams or on defense, that’s where I want to be.”

That said, he has been impressed with what the Browns have done over the last year.

“For sure,” he said. “It’s crazy what they’re doing. It’s dope.”

 

Reach Joe at 330-580-8573 or

joe.scalzo@cantonrep.com

On Twitter: @jscalzoREP