Mike Davis-The Feature Back?
Chicago media has been quick to plug Mike Davis in as the 3rd down back for the Chicago Bears. This is a safe assumption considering Davis has caught 75% (59 of 78) total targets throughout his career. Mike Davis was only on the field 15% of the time in his first two seasons in San Francisco . After being released by the 49er's, Seattle signed Davis to their practice squad, later promoting him to the active roster on 11/14/2017. Davis was hurled into action starting his first game off of the practice squad, and 6 of the last 7 games in 2017. His stats were underwhelming, posting 68 carries for 240 yards(3.5 yards per carry), only hauling in 15 receptions for 131 yards(8.7 yards per catch); not being able to find the end zone in 2017. In 2018 he was part of the number 1 rushing attack, backing up Chris Carson in Seattle's three-headed rushing attack. Davis's 2018 stats were more convincing. He had 112 touches for 514 yards (4.5 yards per carry), hauling in 34 of 42 targets for 214 yards (6.3 yards per catch), finding the end zone 5 times. In the two games Davis started in 2018, he carried the ball 32 times for 159 yards (4.9 yards per carry) hauling in 8 receptions for 45 yards (5.6 yards per catch), finding the end zone 3 times.
Three years of cuts and practice squads finally led to Davis being able to showcase what he could do in 2018. Although the numbers don't jump off the page, when watching his tape, he is elusive running out of shotgun, and showed that he can contribute to a running back room. It's unsure exactly what role Davis will be filling, but one thing I find particularly enticing is his contract. 2 years $6 million isn't the type of contract that jumps out as a big signing but it was HUGE! Since Ryan Pace took over in 2015, he has only signed two running backs through free agency: Benny Cunningham and Jacquizz Rodgers. Both of those players were brought in to add depth at running back and help in the return game, and both of those players received a hair over a million dollars per year. Signing a player to play a 3rd down role for $3 million a year doesn't seem like Pace's style. Pace has also added at least one running back in every single draft since he has been in Chicago, and we should expect the same in 2019.
Another fact worth noting is that the 2015 season was Ryan Pace's first year as a general manager, overseeing every aspect of scouting. The 2015 draft class is graduating, and Pace has a rolodex on all of the players in that class. Ryan Pace can refer to old interviews or player evaluations and use pro tape to get a better understanding of a player's success, or lack there of. Maybe Pace did want to allocate more money to a 3rd down back, but that would be the first time in his five years as a General Manager.