In the first segment of this mini series, where I showcase a Steelers athlete and their top plays of 2016, I broke down cornerback Artie Burns and how he put on an absolute show in his first season with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Article number two will be on safety Sean Davis from the University of Maryland. Davis, 23, was drafted in the second-round of the 2016 NFL Draft and had an incredible year when he was finally placed into the starting lineup. He finished his rookie campaign with 70 total tackles, 1.5 sacks, five pass deflections and an interception.
Davis is a versatile safety that should be with the Steelers for a long time. This secondary is looking really bright and fans should be excited about the future. Let’s take a look at his top plays.
No. 5: Sack, fumble recovery versus Browns (Week 17)
It took 17 weeks but Davis finally registered his first full sack of his career along with a fumble recovery. Of course this play was a gimme due to a high snap by the Browns center, but it truly displays Davis’ awareness and speed to get to the football.
Davis ran a 4.46 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine. This play above looked like he was shot out of a cannon and ran a 4.2 – 40. It was an incredible play and definitely deserves to be on the list.
No. 4: Interception versus Giants (Week 13)
Sean Davis’ first ever interception was a thing of beauty.
Quarterback Eli Manning was forced to throw a pass down the middle of the field due to extreme pressure from the defensive front. This time, Manning heaving it down the middle of the field, did NOT result in a David Tyree helmet type magical play but rather an interception for a rookie safety that definitely deserved it.
Great overall awareness to recognize that the Giants wide receiver was wide open and to make his way back to intercept the football. Overall it was a great read and react type of play that you don’t expect a rookie to make.
No. 3: Giants running back stuff; reaction/execution
Not many rookies can make a play like this.
What Davis displays on the above play is everything you see from a veteran athlete. He plays in his deep safety position and moves up and makes a fantastic open field tackle on running back Paul Perkins for no gain.
Knowing you have a safety that can make open field tackles is absolutely excellent. If you remember, over the last few years, tackling has been the main issue for this defense. Don’t get me wrong it still has its moments, but it is definitely improving because of the younger guys like Davis.
No. 2: Huge tackle on the goal-line versus Colts
This play displays the pure football knowledge and awareness from Davis that makes him such a special athlete. It’s third-and-goal on the one yard line. The majority of the National Football League would either run the football or have the quarterback do a quarterback sneak.
Well… backup Colts quarterback Scott Tolzien decided to run a play-action pass to the right side.
It didn’t turn out too well as the first year safety Davis read the play the entire way and led with his shoulder to make a HUGE stop on third-down. The next play the Colts went for it and did not convert. This play defines Davis’ ability to read and react and it was a great play from his rookie season.
No. 1: Pass Deflection versus Ravens
This Sean Davis play is the biggest play of the entire season.
It’s third-and-three with 14 minutes left in the ball game. The score is 17-10 Ravens and they have the football in the red-zone. If the Ravens get a touchdown here the game is most likely over. Down 14 points with 14 minutes left it can be done but it’s extremely hard.
Safety Sean Davis made an excellent pass breakup when covering tight end Darren Waller. This play forced the Ravens to kick a field goal and made the Steelers comeback and win the Division on a last second touchdown by wide receiver Antonio Brown. It was an incredible pass breakup when everything was on the line.
He made a HUGE play and gave his team the opportunity to come back and win the football game. That is why this is the number one play from Davis’ rookie season.
Feel free to tell me your top five plays for rookie safety Sean Davis. If the plays are solid and you think they should be in a different order, let me know in the comments below. He is truly going to be a star in the Steel City!
Along with being a Film Room analyst on BTSC, Nathaniel is also the founder/ editor-in-chief of SteelCityReport.com. Check out more of his work HERE.