There is more to playing in the NFL than just pure speed and athleticism.
Mike Davis learned that the hard way in 2017.
The cornerback played in 15 games last season as an undrafted free agent, and for the first time, he couldn't just rely on his raw talent. Davis had dominated in high school and college based on being the most gifted athlete on the field. However, the NFL is a whole different story, which is why he mainly saw the field on special teams.
Davis doesn't hide the fact that he struggled to adapt to the pros a year ago, noting that his confidence took a major hit as a result.
"Last year when I got beat on a deep ball, I would come back to the huddle and sulk and be like, 'I'm not a good enough player,'" he admitted. "And then next play, they'd go deep against me again. As a corner, you have to have a short memory. Casey (Hayward) helped me a lot learning that."
Speaking at a rapid pace, Davis takes a deep breath, looks up at the sky and then explains just how important of a learning experience his rookie year proved to be.
"When it comes down to it, this game is all about confidence. Last year, as an undrafted free agent rookie, I didn't have a lot of confidence coming in. I didn't know what to expect. Now, coming into my second year, now I know a little bit of the routes. I know what to do now, and I can just play fast."
There is always an adjustment period for first year players when they enter the NFL, and the Chargers knew Davis might take longer when they signed him as an undrafted free agent out of Brigham Young. It was no secret that he had a long way to go before being a steady NFL player, but the raw tools were there in spades.
After all, 6-2, 196-pound corners who run a 4.4 40-yard dash don't exactly grow on trees.
The good news is Davis' development has been the talk of camp the past week, proving he may be another diamond in the rough the Bolts have unearthed as an undrafted free agent.
So, just how different of a player has Davis been thus far?
"Night-and-day," Lynn said point blank. "Mike Davis, (he's) night-and-day. He's a guy that's playing with more confidence. He's more physical. He's becoming very dependable."
He's not just an athlete anymore. And while he still has more work to do before becoming a finished product, he's developed into a technically-sound cornerback who relies more on his technique than his pure talent.
"Last year I was relying on my athletic abilities, but that only works in college and high school," he said. "This year, I'm a lot more about technique. I'm trying to be a technician, because I know when it comes to technique, I need to excel. And, my expectations are if I do that, then I'll see more regular time with the defense."
With Jason Verrett tearing his Achilles and Trevor Williams nursing a minor ankle injury, the Bolts have entrusted Davis as the other starting cornerback opposite Hayward. He's more than held his own during training camp going up against the likes of Keenan Allen, Tyrell Williams, Travis Benjamin and Mike Williams, earning rave reviews from his teammates.
"I feel like he's been playing at a high level, especially in practice, and you can feel that he has more confidence," Hayward said. "It's a big jump from your rookie year to your second year, so I think he'll make a big jump going into his second year. He was already one of the better special teams players, and now he's trying to make that transition to being a really good player on defense, and I think he's got a chance to be."
Even more important, Davis had a solid debut in the preseason opener against the Arizona Cardinals. In particular, Defensive Coordinator Gus Bradley liked the physical nature in which he attacked the offense.
"We always knew he had speed, but I think now he's become more of a willing tackler," Bradley said. "Where he's gotten stronger, I think he's got more confidence in his ability to tackle. He had a couple opportunities in the game where he showed up in tackling. So, I think he's becoming more well-rounded. He's not just a guy that can run and play in the perimeter. That's the area we really challenge him on."
Check out the best action shots from Day 14 of Chargers Camp, as the Bolts prep for the Seahawks.