When the new Los Angeles Chargers coaching staff saw its team at drills for the first time recently, Glendale High School product Michael Davis evidently was a standout.
Rookie head coach Brandon Staley, who was the defensive coordinator for the Los Angeles Rams last season, talked up Davis after the team’s first organized team activities on May 24 at the Hoag Performance Center in Costa Mesa. And secondary coach Derrick Ansley this week counted Davis among the unit’s signature players.
“I’m really excited about Vato,” Staley told reporters last week, using a team nickname for Davis. “This guy has a lot of tools to work with. I think that he’s just entering the beginning of his NFL career, in my mind.”
Davis, listed as the team’s starting left cornerback, looks to be a prominent part of the Chargers’ defense moving forward after signing a three-year, $25.2 million extension (with $15 million guaranteed) in March, two months after Staley’s hiring.
“Staley just told me that they’re going to try to maximize my talents,” Davis said in a March news conference, after he signed. “They’re going to try to work with me and try to maximize my potential. That’s about it. That’s what I’m hoping for — I’m hoping that he can take my game to the next level.”
An undrafted free agent out of Brigham Young University who caught on with the Chargers in 2017, Davis previously signed a one-year extension for 2020 for $3.2 million.
The former Nitro followed up with his best season as a pro, logging 63 total tackles (55 solo) for the Chargers in 2020, breaking up 14 passes and allowing only 56 receptions, according to Pro Football Focus. He also nabbed three interceptions, including a 78-yard pick-six off Tom Brady in the team’s Week 4 loss to Tampa Bay. PFF graded Davis’ 2020 campaign at 63.1.
“Mike is a unique talent. He’s a height, weight, speed guy — in the top 1% of the speed at his position, I would imagine,” Ansley, who was previously the defensive coordinator at the University of Tennessee, said this week. “He has a lot of physical tools. He’s played a lot of good ball around here. We think he has an ability to really help us in the secondary and really be one of those big pieces to help us on the outside.”
Staley said in May that Davis complements his notable athleticism with his sharp football acumen.
“This guy can think the game. He can see the game,” Staley said. “A lot of it, when you’re playing corner in this league, is playing that chess match against whoever you’re facing, knowing that now all of these people that you’re going against are the same. We’re hoping to be partnered up with him for many years.”
As a senior at Glendale High in the 2012-13 school year, Davis received All-CIF first team honors in football; he also captured Pacific League titles in the 200-meter dash all four seasons of track and in the 100 for three seasons. He played four years at BYU before joining the Chargers.
“I feel like he has really been able to thrive in our DB [defensive back] environment,” Staley added. “This guy can press. He can play off. He can judge the ball deep. He can really run, as you guys know. Another factor that we’ve been really impressed with is the way that his brain works.”
Davis said in March that he looked forward to the return of safety Derwin James Jr., who missed last season with a torn meniscus, and working to form a core defensive backfield unit with All-Pro corner Chris Harris Jr. Since then, the Chargers added cornerback Asante Samuel Jr. of Florida State with a second-round NFL draft pick.
“I think our defense is going to be stacked,” Davis said in March, also citing standout edge defender Joey Bosa. “We’re still a young defense, and I think we can come out and kick some ass.”