In the last two seasons for the Jacksonville Jaguars, Ryan Davis has been that player who you watched make a big play nearly every Sunday but then not see the field again outside of a few snaps here and there.
You'd see him out-produce his peers on the team but then not get any of the same chances that they got.
You'd see him type-casted as an interior rusher only, despite showing that he is capable of bringing pass rush from the defensive end position.
Are these days finally over? Maybe.
Since breaking out with a 6.5-sack season in 2014, Davis has 10 sacks over the last 2 seasons. That is more than Andre Branch and only one less than Chris Clemons, which is frankly amazing, though not surprising, due to how many more snaps Clemons and Branch both played than Davis.
Snap counts over the last two seasons (via Football Outsiders) and sack totals over that time are as follows:
Ryan Davis: 550 snaps. 10 sacks
Andre Branch: 926 snaps. 7 sacks
Chris Clemons: 1,451 snaps. 11 sacks
Average out their pass rushing efficiency and the numbers come out to this:
Ryan Davis: 1 sack every 55 snaps
Andre Branch: 1 sack every 132 snaps
Chris Clemons: 1 sack ever 132 snaps
The fact that Clemons and Branch were able to average out the same sack rate per snap is exceedingly ironic, but that is not the point here. The point is that, despite being mis-cast as an interior rusher only, and despite seeing a fraction of the snaps as Branch and Clemons, Davis outproduced and outplayed them.
This was easy to see on Sundays, though. Anyone who has watched the Jaguars the last two seasons knows that Davis was a better player than Branch and Clemons were. You don't need the numbers to know this, though they do hammer home just how much better he was.
Despite all of this, though, Davis has never been used predominantly as a pass rusher off the edge. And for this reason, many thought that he was on the outside looking in this season due to how the roster is constructed, despite his play suggesting that he should be safe.
That is because the Jaguars have created a log jam of interior pass rushers with Malik Jackson, Sen'Derrick Marks, Jared Odrick, Sheldon Day, and Michael Bennett. There is really no more room for Davis at his old spot.
But at defensive end, the Jaguars are still looking for a bookend to play on the other side of Dante Fowler. They drafted Yannick Ngakoue in the third round and he is expected to play a lot, specifically on third down, and also drafted Tyrone Holmes. But that doesn't solve the edge rush issue. Entrusting two or three players who are all playing their first NFL season as your edge rush is asking a lot.
That leaves the opportunity that Ryan Davis has been looking for the past two seasons wide open. And there is evidence that the Jaguars are finally going to let Davis take advantage of said opportunity, as the news out of OTAs was of him moving to outside linebacker and switching between that spot and defensive end.
This means that the Jaguars are, for now, no longer going to typecast him as an interior rusher only. He'll have a shot to come off the edge, where has flashed the ability to make plays like this.
For now, Davis has to worry about outperforming Ngakoue and even Dan Skuta early on in training camp to ensure more snaps at defensive end.
I am not saying he is going to do it. Davis has been overlooked too often for me to believe that he is going to be handed a job. But I do think he is capable of taking the reigns and becoming the team's third down edge rusher opposite Dante Fowler.
I even think he is capable if given the chance, of leading the team in sacks by the end of the season.
We will see if he gets the chance. I really hope he does.