Buster Davis doesn't care what you think about his "size."
Even though I personally am 6'5 and weigh 200 pounds, I root for the little guy. Always have. So, I am more than a little pleased that the Colts have signed former-Florida star LBer Buster Davis. From what I've read about him, and from what scouts have told us, he's exactly the kind of guy you want on your team both from a talent and a personality standpoint.
A few weeks ago, the Detroit Free Press did an article on Davis and his chances of making the Lions active roster. In short (or pun intended), they weren't good. Ahead of Davis was veteran Paris Lenon and 2008 second round pick Jordon Dizon. This is basically a no win situation, as even if Davis showed up both players, Detroit was not going to cut their 2nd round pick or their established vet. Sucks for them, because Buster made an impression at camp and in preseason. Now, he's ours:
Davis has made an impact in training camp, fighting for a job while sandwiched on the depth chart between veteran Paris Lenon and rookie Jordon Dizon, a second-round pick this year. His hitting was so relentless in practice Wednesday that he drew the ire of quarterback Jon Kitna.
I'll be honest: I never liked Jon Kitna. He always struck me as a whiny b*tch. And nothing against anyone of the Christian faith (I'm raised Catholic myself) but the Jesus hats he wears are just annoying. So, whenever I hear that a certain player has "drawn Kitna's ire," I immediately like that player; not that I needed an excuse to like Davis.
Buster also champions the mantra we at Stampede Blue have preached since day one when it comes to evaluating talent: Size does not matter.
Now, before the juvenile delinquent in your snickers, we are talking about a football player's height and weight. Buster Davis is 5'9 and weighs 238 pounds. By comparison, current back-up MLBer Philip Wheeler is 6'2 250 pounds. But if we known anything when it comes to evaluating talent, size is probably the most over-rated "stat" people use when assessing a player's worth.
Buster Davis is 5-feet-9. He is the shortest player on the Lions' roster. But don't tell him he's too short to play middle linebacker.
"It's an ignorant statement, because if we judge people by how big they are or how they ran in the combine or whatever the case may be, this NFL wouldn't be what it is today," Davis said Friday. "It's really about guys who want to play the game of football no matter what the situation is, and I'm one of those guys."
I often have the "size" argument with TheSportsGuru whenever we talk rookies. I still maintain that Anthony Gonzalez is a better receiver than Brandon Marshall, both from a talent and an intelligence standpoint. And intelligence is a helluva lot more valuable than how big or fast a guy is, especially when evaluating defensive players in a Cover 2. Buster Davis agrees (emphasis mine):
Too short? Davis points to Mike Singletary, the Hall of Fame middle linebacker who is 6-0. Don't Tampa Two middle linebackers have to cover the deep middle? Won't opponents throw over his head? Davis points to Washington's London Fletcher, who played the middle in the Tampa Two in St. Louis and Buffalo and is 5-11.
"People who actually know football know you don't have to be 6-5 to play in the Tampa Two defense," Davis said. "It's all about knowing what you're doing, knowing the game of football and playing ball. You don't have to get 20 yards deeper in coverage because you're not 6-3. That's not how things work."
Left out of Buster's examples of small backers who excel in Tampa 2: Gary Brackett. If Buster wants to find a mentor, look no further than the Colts defensive captain, Mr. Brackett. Gary is 5'8, went undrafted (Buster was a 3rd rounder), and is probably the most under-rated LBer in football. Yet, Gary anchors a very punishing defense which was ranked #1 in scoring defense in 2007.
One has to love Buster's drive to succeed. I'm pulling for him, and for Polian to sign him to the active roster (not the practice squad) speaks volumes for how the Colts view him. Buster's addition also likely means Philip Wheeler will shift to SAM, where (hopefully) he will start.