It's time for me to admit that, after playing like dog poop for much of the season, Vontae Davis really turned it on during the month of December and in the playoffs.
Consider that Joe Flacco targeted Cassius Vaughn and Darius Butler all game during the Ravens 24-9 victory over the Colts in the playoffs. Those two were covering Anquan Boldin, who had 5 catches for 145 yards and a back-breaking touchdown in the fourth quarter. Meanwhile, Torrey Smith, the outstanding second-year wide receiver and arguably their only deep threat had just 3 catches for 31 yards. Vontae was on Smith all game long, and played him well.
Thus, it now seems the Vontae Davis trade wasn't so bad after all. In fact, it got even better when the news broke that the Colts would be getting back the 6th round pick they sent to the Miami Dolphins in exchange for Davis.
Indy sent a second round pick and a conditional 6th rounder in the 2013 NFL Draft to Miami in exchange for Davis during the preseason last year. Per Adam Schefter, Vontae had to play 65% of the defensive snaps in Indy in order for Miami to retain the 6th round pick. Vontae missed six games this year, and didn't meet the 65%. Thus, the pick returns to the Colts.
Going forward, it is CRITICAL that Davis continue to mature and develop. An off-season with Chuck Pagano will help that. However, if Vontae goes out there in 2013 and regresses, we are right back to the "he's a bust!" talk.
That said, right now I feel better about the trade. Sending a late-second rounder for a player like Davis makes sense. My fear was, should the Colts not make the post-season, they'd be sending a pick that was somewhere in the 33rd-40th overall range to Miami in addition to the 6th round pick. Davis wasn't worth that, and if you try and justify that he was, I laugh at you.
As it turned out, a late-second for Davis is a fair deal. I feel better about the trade and about the player the Colts got. Vontae seems to have turned a corner. Let's hope he continues in the right direction.