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Broncos roster 2016: Inside linebacker Todd Davis

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Breaking down the Denver Broncos 2016 90-man roster, one player, one post, one day at a time. Today we keep the football rolling looking at inside linebacker, Todd Davis.

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

It's that time of the year again. Mile High Report begins our annual 90 players in 90 days roster breakdown. Last year went fairly well, but starting today and through August 27th, we'll break down every player on the Denver Broncos roster.

Name: Todd Davis
Position: Inside Linebacker
Height: 6'1"   Weight: 230
Age: 24   Experience: 3rd
College: Sacramento State

After the 2014 NFL Draft came and went, Davis signed with the New Orleans Saints as an undrafted free agent.

Davis was eventually released by the Saints but was signed to their Practice Squad. He was signed off the Practice Squad by the Saints in October and he made his NFL debut against the Detroit Lions.

A few weeks later he was released by the Saints and was expected to be signed back to their Practice Squad, but the Denver Broncos put a waiver claim on Davis. A day later the Broncos were awarded Davis, and he joined their 53-man active roster.

Davis went on to play in six games for the Broncos during his rookie year and totaled 11 total tackles and 2 pass deflections.

With starting linebackers Brandon Marshall and Danny Trevathan both recovering from injuries, Davis was the Broncos starting inside linebacker in practices from May through early August. Those reps really helped Davis improve his game.

"Being able to have those offseason reps with the first team, it definitely helped and it transferred over into my game," Davis said. "And this year, being able to build on those reps, I feel like it will only be helpful, and then help me as I play next season."

Those reps ultimately didn't translate onto the field because both Brandon Marshall and Trevathan returned from their injuries and both stayed healthy and played at a high level in 2015. This left Davis only getting Special Team reps and a handful of snaps on defense. He ended the 2015 season with 15 tackles.

A huge opportunity opened up for Davis after linebacker Danny Trevathan left in Free Agency after signing a deal with the Chicago Bears.With Trevathan now in Chicago, the Broncos needed to find a starter opposite of Brandon Marshall, and Davis appears to be the favorite for the job.

(Photo via

First, Davis was anxious to see what the Broncos would during the 2016 NFL Draft. Would they spend an early-round pick on a linebacker, or would they show faith in Davis and not select anyone during the three days of the draft?

Davis told reporters that he was tracking the three-day event on his phone and was happy to see the Broncos show faith in him and his teammates.

"I definitely was tracking it on my phone and seeing what the Broncos are going to do because at the time I didn’t know what direction they were going in. When they didn’t pick up anybody, it definitely felt good and it let us know that they have faith in the inside linebacker corps that they have now and that they believed in us and wanted to move forward with us for the rest of the season."

With the draft done and gone, Davis now had to begin competing for the starting job opposite of Brandon Marshall.

Davis told reporters he prepared for this all offseason by watching film from the starters in 2015. He believes he'll be able to replace what Trevathan did and keep the defense "on track".

"I just really studied a lot of film, a lot of what the Broncos did and a lot of what the starters did from last year. I want to mimic that. We had such a great season-No. 1 defense. If I can continue to strive to compete the way they did and pursue the ball the way they did, I think we’ll be on the right track."

If he can do that, the Broncos defense figures to have a steal in Davis and probably have another dominating defense in 2016.

The good:

Todd Davis hasn't played a ton of snaps for the Broncos since joining them, but he has played very well when given the opportunity. Now with the chance to earn a starting job on this elite Broncos defense, I believe he'll be able to take that next step and become a solid contributor for the Broncos defense.

First, Davis will need to put in a solid offseason and impress his coaches, and he has gotten off too a good start.

Denver Broncos Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips compared Davis to former NFL Linebacker Chris Spielman who he coached while with the Buffalo Bills.

"I’ll start off by saying at inside backer I think Todd Davis is really doing a tremendous job for us. He may not seem like it off the field, but he’s really an intense guy. I don’t know if I’ve been around—well, I was around linebacker Chris Spielman at Buffalo—but he reminds me of the same kind of temperament. He’s intense every play on the field.

That's quite a compliment coming from Phillips. Spielman played 10 years in the NFL and totaled 1,181 tackles, 10.5 sacks, and 6 interceptions. If the Broncos have that same type of player in Davis, the Broncos defense will just be that much better.

What also will help Davis this offseason is linebacker Brandon Marshall. He has vowed to become a leader of the team this year, and he has shown that by helping his young teammates(Including Davis) as much as possible this spring. Davis says he has been asking Marshall questions and been really benefiting from him.

"It’s been great being able to come off the field even now in practices and ask Brandon what do you see as far as how my technique is or my intensity or how I cover man-to-man. What do you see? It definitely helps with him playing the position and being able to be there and help me and guide me through the whole process."

Those two might be playing next to each other a lot this year, so the quicker they get comfortable with each other the better they will be this season.

Another thing that is in Davis's favor is that he seems to be penciled in as the starter at inside linebacker next to Marshall. Corey Nelson and Zaire Anderson are competing for that job, and both could take it during camp, but it seems like Davis will get the first shot to win the job.

The bad:

We haven't seen a whole lot of Davis so there isn't a ton of bad to be listed.

One of my concerns is his inexperience. He's not as inexperienced as some because of the reps he has taken in practice, but he has yet to be a full-time starter in the NFL so that's always a concern.

My other concern is if Davis can be a 3 down linebacker or a 2 down linebacker in the NFL. Danny Trevathan before his injury was a damn good coverage linebacker, and still a solid one after his injuries.

Can Davis play in the Broncos sub-packages and consistently cover running backs and tight ends? Or will he be a guy that comes off the field in certain packages for a better cover guy?

This is something we'll have to find out during Training Camp and the Preseason.

My only other concerns are his health. If he wants to win a starting job this summer he will need to stay healthy and play well. Anytime missed could allow Corey Nelson or Zaire Anderson to step up and win the job in his absence.


Broncos Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips on Todd Davis.

"He’s a good football player. He played well for us last year. He played in several packages. What we do with guys that we feel like we can play and contribute, we try to put them in certain packages or certain defenses that they can play in the ball game. He played a lot of plays last year. He played in all of our short-yardage and goal-line plays and all that. Obviously, he substituted when Danny was out, too. He had some playing time and he played well when he played."

Roster Status:

Todd Davis's roster status is pretty safe for this season. It looks like he will be given the first shot to replace Danny Trevathan in the starting lineup. At worse, I see Davis as a solid depth player who will contribute on special teams and be the main backup to the two starting inside linebackers.