“Raw as sushi,” The Athletic’s Dane Brugler wrote in his pre-draft assessment of Davidson, projecting him to be a “draft-and-stash” player after switching from punter to tight end his sophomore year of college.
Davidson just breaking the surface as a route runner, but looking past the 24-year-old’s lanky 6-foot-7 frame is a lethal speed that helped make him the first of only three Division II prospects selected in the 2021 draft.
Entering his second NFL training camp, Davidson has been tasked with taking on more first-team reps with Irv Smith Jr. out the remainder of training camp after suffering a thumb injury.
Davidson has had his ups and downs, but he’s on the verge of a milestone few of his teammates have achieved.
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Davidson, Nearing the 21 MPH Club
Davidson, whose height ranks in the 93rd percentile and 4.64 40-time ranks 80th among NFL tight ends, per Mockdraftable.com, has a unique size and speed combination at the position — qualities that Cousins sees potential in.
The Vikings have trackers on player jerseys that measure their top-end speed. Cousins, who just breached 19 miles per hour last season against the Arizona Cardinals, acknowledged he’ll reach the 21 miles per hour threshold that many of the team’s fastest players are chasing.
“You can’t teach 6-foot-7, and talking about his speed… We have a t-shirt we give out in the building if you get to 21 miles per hour, I’m never going to see 21 miles per hour but the fastest guys on the team are going 21. It’s an elite group and Zach’s one of those guys who’s at 20.9, so whenever Zach gets a vertical route I know he’s going to be flying because he wants that tracker at the end of practice to say 21,” Cousins said. “One of these days we’re going to get him his t-shirt but… he’s got a lot of down-the-field speed and his height, that combination, it gives you a lot of potential as a player.”
The fastest Vikings player on the roster is currently second-year running back Kene Nwangwu, who clocked an unofficial 4.29 40-time at his pro day, however, Davidson, could be the tallest player to reach that milestone, potentially if he can do so with the ample adrenaline of in-game reps this season.
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Davidson’s Development Could Reap
Davidson has the tools to be a truly unique contributor at the tight end position but he will have to develop
During the practice where Smith exited with a thumb injury, Davidson made several clutch catches during a two-minute drill. He also muffed a catch that turned into an interception later in training camp.
However, Cousins is a believer in the fifth-rounder’s potential.
“I see a lot of ability in him. You see a high ceiling and a desire to work and get better. It’s exciting to work with a guy like that when you see all this potential down the road — similar to how I felt about Tyler Conklin three to four years ago. You want to see that development happen, and it’s going to,” Cousins said.