Taking The Next Step

Photo: Karl Roser/Pittsburgh Steelers

Pittsburgh Steelers defense lineman Carlos Davis is a rare breed.

While at Nebraska, Davis was a four-year letter winner in track and field in discus, and a productive defensive lineman on the gridiron. At the 2020 NFL Combine, Davis gained the attention of all NFL scouts in attendance, as he recorded one of the fastest 40-yard times ever for a defensive lineman over 300 pounds. Despite where he was selected in last year's NFL Draft, Davis' athleticism distinguished him from a majority of the players his size.

His numbers from last year may not seem impressive, then again, his playing time was minimal on a talented defensive unit. Yet, this offseason so far has seen the departure of many key members of the Steelers defensive line, such as Bud Dupree and Tyson Alualu. With both Cameron Heyward and Stephon Tuitt aging in tenure, the defensive line is in dire need of quality depth. Even with the possibility of new editions through the upcoming NFL draft, familiarity is key.

Davis only saw 54 snaps on defense in 2020, and produced seven total tackles, with one of them for a loss. In their week 9 victory over the Dallas Cowboys, he flashed the type of power and quickness that made an impact, even though it was not fully represented on the stat

sheet. His most notable moment of the season was his sideline scuffle with teammate Isaiah Buggs in week 17 against the Cleveland Browns. Head coach Mike Tomlin jokingly pointed out, "We've got some gamecocks and they like to fight a little bit sometimes".

The true test will come this upcoming season, where Davis will inevitably see his snaps increase. For an athlete that once played at the highest level in two different sports, that pedigree will be key to helping him reach his true potential.

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