Junior running back Knile Davis got lost in the shuffle during his final season at Arkansas. Outside of Razorback fans, his name and draft stock were depleting and appeared to be near extinction. Then, the NFL Combine happened.
Davis, the Missouri City, Texas, native measured in at 5’11” and 227 pounds. He clocked in a dazzling 4.37 in the 40-yard dash. That time was the second fastest of all running backs at the Combine, and only by a hair as Onterio McCalebb from Auburn clocked a 4.34.
For Davis, the 40 was just his first act. He also showed off his upper body strength and delivered a monstrous 31 reps on the bench press. No other running back at the Combine was able to beat that number.
Although Davis has got first-round caliber speed and strength, NFL teams still have plenty of cautions and concerns about drafting him.
Davis is no stranger to the injury bug, suffering a fractured ankle three times in a four-year span. In the first game of his senior year at Thurgood Marshall High School, Davis broke his right ankle. Before leaving the game due to the injury, Davis had rushed the ball 33 times for 278 yards and two touchdowns.
Unfortunately the bug followed Davis to Arkansas. During spring drills in 2009, he fractured his right ankle for the second time in two years.
After a year of recovery exercises and watching his teammates battle from the sidelines, Davis was ready to make his comeback in 2010.
During the 2010 season, Davis exceeded all expectations and exploded onto the national scene. He finished the season with five straight 100-yard games, and led all SEC running backs with 1,322 yards. His performances earned him All-SEC honors.
Davis was poised to make a legitimate Heisman campaign in 2011, until that same bug decided to come back for him. This time, he fractured his left ankle during spring drills. The injury forced Davis to miss the entire 2011 season.
In 2012, Davis and the entire state of Arkansas were thrown a curve ball when former head coach Bobby Petrino was fired for conduct violations. The Razorbacks brought in John L Smith as the interim coach and were expected to have a big season, regardless of whom the head coach was. Those aspirations were soon crushed, as Davis and the Hogs suffered through a brutal 4-8 season.
For whatever reason, Davis just never got it going in 2012. He rushed for 377 yards on 112 carries, which is an average of 3.4 yards per-carry. Those numbers were down substantially from his 2010 season, in which he rushed for 1,322 yards on 204 carries with an average of 6.5 yards per-carry.
The dramatic drop off in 2012 gave critics a valid knock on Davis. For some, the injury loaded past outweighs the outstanding Combine numbers. “If you’re picking players to pay the mortgage, that is a pretty big leap of faith in the early rounds — no matter what the stopwatch says,” said Jeff Legwold of The Denver Post.
Others view Davis as a potential diamond in the rough. Robert Mays of Grantland.com wrote about Davis in his Combine recap, stating, “A broken ankle kept him out of the 2011 season and was also thought to contribute to his subpar final season. There are obviously some concerns there, but with the type of size-speed combination he showed this weekend, someone is likely going to reach up and take a chance.”
According to Davis’ personal twitter account (@BoobieKnile_Era), he’s already had meetings with the Cardinals, Cowboys, Eagles, Jets, Patriots and Texans. While none of these teams are likely to select Davis in Thursday’s first round, he is confident with where he stands going into the draft. “I reached all my goals I set as far as NFL workouts, and I’m happy where I am right now,” said Davis last week in a radio conversation with Bo Mattingly. “NFL teams know I can ball. They understand the situation we were in last year.”
ESPN’s Scouts Inc. latest mock draft has Davis projected to come off the board in round 7 to the New York Giants.
Davis has proven he has the intangibles to play at the next level. Now all he needs is an opportunity.