Aside from running back Austin Ekeler, Michael Davis has probably been the team’s best finds as an undrafted free agent from the past five years. I mean, last year alone, Davis doubled his total number of collegiate interceptions (1) by snagging the first two picks of his young career. With the 2020 season on the horizon, he’ll look to further increase his impact on with the Chargers.
But first, how did the Glendale, California-native end up with the Bolts?
Davis first began to make his mark on the football world as a star two-way player for Glendale High School where he was named a First-Team All-Pacific League wide receiver. In his senior season, Davis caught 33 passes for 409 yards and three touchdowns while carrying the rock 39 times for another 258 yards and a pair of scores. As a kick returner, Davis took back 13 total kicks for 394 yards, including one for 99 yards.
He also shined on the track, posting a 10.67 in the 100-meter dash and a 21.4 in the 200, which placed seventh at the California State Meet.
Michael Davis was raised by mom Ana Martinez and spent his childhood taking trips to visit family in Mexico. Tonight, he was a team captain, and he's finally playing in front of them.— Strong Side (@strongsidenfl) November 19, 2019
#BoltUp #MexicoGame2019 #MNF #KCvsLAC #FootballIsFamily pic.twitter.com/7TiFOtMlF9
After taking his talents to Brigham Young University, Davis started five games as a true freshman for the Cougars. In those contests, he recorded 17 tackles, a tackle-for-loss, and a pass breakup. His sophomore season saw him register nine total starts and set a career-high with 43 tackles and six pass breakups.
His best campaign came as a junior when he started a high mark of 12 games, finishing with 27 tackles, 1.5 for loss, a whopping 10 pass breakups, and a forced fumble. His final season only saw Davis start eight games while playing in all 13. His stats saw some unsurprising regression with only 23 tackles but he managed a career-high in tackles-for-loss (2.5) and recorded the first pick of his career along with a recovered fumble. He finished his career with the Cougars playing in 48 total games while starting 30 in all.
Although he started his fair share of games in college, Davis wasn’t very productive and it didn’t help that he couldn’t keep a starting job for too long. These things didn’t help his case as he went unselected following the 2017 draft. However, he was exactly what defensive coordinator Gus Bradley was looking for in a developmental corner.
With his height/weight/speed combination - he reportedly ran a 4.34 40 at his pro day - Davis was an easy projection at the next level. In the Bolts’ zone-heavy scheme, Davis would have much less to worry about aside from learning the nuances of the position and how to maximize his intangibles within zone.
In his first year with the Chargers, Davis played mainly on special teams, registering 18 total stops and a single pass breakup. In 2018, Davis saw his first chunk of significant playing time, starting nine games and playing in all 16. He set career-high with 50 total tackles, eight passes broken up, and a forced fumble. Davis became a full-time starter in 2019 when he started all 12 games he played in. He chipped in 39 tackles and set another high mark with nine pass breakups and his first two professional interceptions.
Years with team: 3
“Michael Davis signed a 1 year, $3,259,000 contract with the Los Angeles Chargers, including an average annual salary of $3,259,000. In 2020, Davis will earn a base salary of $3,259,000, while carrying a cap hit of $3,259,000.” - Spotrac.com
Not too long ago, Davis was listed as a top zone corner in the NFL by USA Today’s Doug Farrar, which is a huge compliment for a secondary member playing on a defense with the highest usage of zone in the NFL. In 2019, he allowed 19 catches on 34 targets with no touchdowns and two interceptions. Without a sure-fire CB2 heading into last season, Davis stepped up in a big way and the Chargers will rely on him just as much in 2020.
His length and speed are some of the best on the team and I definitely see him taking another step forward with his play as long as he’s got the amazing of corners around him in Casey Hayward, Chris Harris Jr., and Desmond King.
For a former undrafted free agent, Davis has been as solid as you would want from a player with his pedigree. One of the biggest knocks came when he was suspended for multiple games this past season due to a violation of the league’s substance abuse policy. His leash is obviously a bit shorter than the others in the position group, so he’ll have to keep his nose clean if he wants to continue his career on the positive path he’s set himself on.
Odds of making the roster/What to expect in 2020?
Davis makes this roster and likely splits time as the starting cornerback opposite Hayward with Harris Jr. When the team plays in any type of sub package, Davis will be the guy. When the defense is in base, it will likely be Harris or Davis depending on the situation, but I would assume Harris Jr. gets most of the snaps in base looks. I would consider Davis a full-time starter in the same way we considered King a starter although he was only the team’s Nickel corner.