The Chargers boast an impressive resume when it comes to undrafted free agents, with at least one making the final 53-man roster for 20 consecutive years. So, who could possibly follow in the footsteps of Antonio Gates, Tyrell Williams and Jahleel Addae among others?
It’s far too early to draw meaningful conclusions. After all, training camp doesn’t begin for well over a month, while we’re eight weeks away from the first preseason game. Still, Head Coach Anthony Lynn hasn’t been shy about revealing young players who have caught his eye this spring when pressed by the media.
This week, he mentioned undrafted free agent Michael Davis.
With a number of veteran cornerbacks resting, the Bolts thrust the BYU product into the spotlight with the first team defense on Tuesday. He went one-on-one with the likes of Keenan Allen, Tyrell Williams and Travis Benjamin, more than holding his own against the stable of veterans.
Afterward, Lynn was quick to praise the Glendale native for rising to the occasion.
“To me, he’s prototypical for anybody’s defense,” the head coach said. “He’s 6-3, (runs under) 4.4, has length. I think he was a really good pick up for us. We’ll see when we get the pads on and (play) real football. But right now, he’s really standing out.”
“It meant a lot to hear him say that to be honest with you,” Davis responded on Thursday. “I just love hearing that he respects and has confidence in me. I’ve been working my ass off ever since I got here. I was an undrafted free agent, and it hurt watching the draft and not hearing my name called. Coach Lynn and this team gave me a chance, so I’m giving it my best. I’ve been learning new techniques, and working hard at them each and every practice. On Tuesday, everything clicked. I guess I stood out. So I went out there today and tried to stand out again.”
Wiping the sweat off his brow, Davis chuckles before continuing.
“It really hit me on Tuesday when I was lined up against Keenan Allen. I was like, ‘Wow, this is Keenan Allen.’ Not a lot of rookies get the chance to practice against someone like that, let alone someone who went undrafted right off the bat. I went up against Keenan and Tyrell Williams, and it was so surreal. I’m happy to get the opportunity to show what I can do.”
Davis boasts impressive metrics that make you wonder why he went undrafted. After all, 6-3, 196-pound cornerbacks that boast sub-4.4 speed don’t exactly grow on trees. Davis believes the reason he wasn’t selected had to do with the way he approached his senior year for the Cougars.
Essentially, he grew complacent.
“Coming off my junior year I had a good season,” he explained. “But then my senior year, we had a new coaching staff, and I felt I had earned my place. I wasn’t as productive as I should (have been). I wasn’t in my film as much as my first three years, and I went away from my press fundamentals. That wasn’t who I should have been. As a senior on the team I should have been a leader. I wasn’t showing those skills on the field. So after our game against Mississippi State, my coach and I had a talk and he benched me the rest of the season.”
The positive to come out of the experience was a shift in attitude. Davis won’t take anything for granted ever again, which is why hearing he caught Lynn’s eye on Tuesday has him hungry to prove himself time and time again.
“It hurt me knowing I was on the sidelines when I should have been on the field. I took it for granted, and I’ll never do anything like that again.”
Davis also believes he’s succeeded because he’s a perfect fit for Defensive Coordinator Gus Bradley’s system. He looks at players like Richard Sherman in Seattle and Jalen Ramsey in Jacksonville as those who fit his body type. One look at how they played under Bradley is all it took realize he had to be a member of the Bolts when choosing between four different teams to join following the draft.
“Most people look at me and think I am tall and lanky,” he said. “They don’t think guys that look like me are fast. I use that to my advantage. They think if they give me a quick move I’ll be done. But usually if they give me a quick move, I’m right there next to them stride for stride. (After the draft,) this was the best place for me to play. Other teams were giving me opportunities, but nothing like I had if I came here. I saw the Jaguars drafted Jalen Ramsey (when Bradley was there), and he is big and fast like me. So I’m trying to show what I can do, and hopefully I can have more practices (like Tuesday’s).”