by J.T. Toth
Photo courtesy of South Dakota State University Athletics.
The NFL Draft talk never ends and we here at Draft 412 will keep you ready for the next set of gridiron stars. From today until draft night 2024 we will bring you mocks, profiles, team needs, and everything else related to the 2024 NFL Draft.
Today’s Spotlight - South Dakota State, Running Back, Isaiah Davis
Name- Isaiah Davis
Team- South Dakota State
HT/WT- 6’1” 220 lbs.
Home – Joplin, MO
Isaiah Davis had a monstrous senior season for Joplin High School in his hometown in Missouri. He ran for 2,283 yards on only 253 carries (9.02 ypc) with 45 touchdowns. Not only could he run the ball, he also added 19 receptions for 220 yards and a pair of touchdowns while being credited with 52 tackles from the linebacker position. For his career, he rushed for 4,354 yards and scored a total of 83 touchdowns. Accolades followed Davis throughout his high school career. He was a second-team all-state selection as a junior and then he was named the Missouri Gatorade Player of the Year as a senior, as well as first-team all-state. He committed to South Dakota State to play football during his senior season.
Davis teamed up with Pierre Strong, Jr. for an elite 1-2 punch in the Jackrabbit running game in his freshman season. He was honored with the Adam Timmerman Award for the team’s top offensive player after he led the team with 818 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns in 10 games. He averaged a team-best 115.3 all-purpose yards per contest.
In 2021, Davis was slowed by an injury during the regular season but still managed to finish 2nd on the team with 701 yards on only 95 carries (7.4 ypc). He was a huge factor in the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs by posting a career high 217 yards on 15 carries with a touchdown against UC Davis.
Davis was named the recipient of the Jim Langer Award as team Most Valuable Player during their national championship season in 2022. He rushed for a team-high 1,451 yards in 14 games, scoring a team-best 15 touchdowns. He had a big National Championship game running for 103 yards and a touchdown in their victory over North Dakota State.
Davis had a career year in 2023 setting career highs in yards with 1,578 and touchdowns with 18 for the Jackrabbits. He has also improved his receiving ability out of the backfield by catching a career high 23 passes for 199 yards and 1 touchdown.
Davis has a nice combination of size and speed and he plays the game with a chip on his shoulder. He is hard to tackle without help. He is light on his feet and is able to cut and sidestep defenders. When an opening arises, he has a quick burst and the capability to make a big play on every carry. When running the ball, he never stops churning his legs and he has a habit of always falling forward. Even when Davis appears to be taking a loss, he seems to get positive yards. Over his career, he proved that he can be a workhorse and carry a team on his shoulders. He has shown the ability to get stronger as games go on and wear down defenses.
On the downside, Davis lacks patience and does not wait for holes to open up, or blockers to pull and get out in front. Though he has improved his numbers in regards to receptions, he still struggles with drops and getting the most out of his receptions. At the next level, he will need to improve his vision to be able to extend runs and do some damage at the 2nd and 3rd levels. Some scouts will want to see what he can do against bigger and faster competition after playing in the FCS during his career. He has decent straight line speed but not the type that will scare NFL defenses.
When watching Isaiah Davis play, Draft Nation was reminded of Joshua Kelley who was a 4th round pick out of UCLA in 2020. Kelley has proven to be a quality backup running back for the Chargers who can do a little bit of everything. Like Davis, Kelley has the potential to break tackles off the line of scrimmage and is tough to tackle for a loss. Davis has the capability to start off as a backup in the NFL, who could threaten for a starting job over time.
Combo of size and speed
Legs always moving
Isaiah Davis took the torch from Pierre Strong, Jr. and has improved every season for the Jackrabbits. Strong was a 4th round pick by the New England Patriots in 2022 and Davis has a chance to follow in his ex-teammate's footsteps by being a quality mid-round draft pick.
Draft 412 Draft Prediction - 5th or 6th round