The Eagles first round selection of Jordan Davis has earned rave reviews from local/national media alike. It’s to be expected, as Davis is a massive defensive tackle at 6-foot-6 and 340 pounds with all the potential in the world.
Davis was a key cog in the historically great Georgia defense that led the way to the school’s first national championship in 41 years. His play earned him national recognition in the form of the 2021 Outland Trophy (given to the best collegiate interior linemen in the nation) and the Chuck Bednarik Award (given to the best defensive player in the nation).
He’s an athletic freak, evidenced both on film and through his testing numbers at the combine.
However, the selection of Davis is not without risk. During his senior season at the University of Georgia, Davis played 25.2 snaps per game. His conditioning and was a topic of discussion throughout his senior season and it continued throughout the draft process.
Georgia head coach Kirby Smart spoke about Davis’ weight/conditioning on multiple occasions during his (Davis) time at the University of Georgia.
“Weight is always going to be a struggle and a fight for him,” Smart said in 2019.
“Jordan’s biggest issue is conditioning and weight control. He knows that and we’ve got to get him to cut some more for him to be elite. The game of football is played so differently now and there’s certain games where he’s a larger factor in and there’s some games we try to make him a non-factor when they’re spreading the ball out, throwing the ball a lot and playing loose plays,” Smart said before Davis’ senior season in 2021.
The main concerns with Davis are centered around weight management, nutrition and conditioning. The Eagles as an organization understand this.
“We spent a lot of time in Georgia this year,” said Eagles VP Player of Personnel Andy Weidl.
With that understanding, the Eagles have the right people in place to ensure Davis’ sustained success over time with the franchise.
Ted Rath – V.P. of Player Performance
Rath joined the Eagles during the 2020 offseason and was promoted to vice president of player performance in 2021. Before joining the Eagles, he spent three seasons with the Rams as their director of strength training and performance. In 2017, Rath was named Strength Coach of the Year.
According to Rath’s LinkedIn profile, he’s is tasked with overseeing all aspects of team performance training, strength and conditioning, sports science, performance nutrition, among other elements of player performance.
Davis will undoubtedly be Rath’s magnum opus up to this point in his career with the Eagles.
Fernando Noriega – Head of Strength & Conditioning
Noriega joined the Eagles in January 2021 after five years with the Rams where he worked under Ted Rath. While Rath oversees the operation, Noreiga is one of the key cogs that enforces it.
This Eagles training staff clearly works hard to ensure it’s players’ health and conditioning is in top shape. Since bringing Rath onto the staff, the Eagles have been relatively healthy. According to spoctrac.com, In 2021, the Eagles were tied for 15th in the NFL with ten players on IR.
Davis is no stranger to being challenged in terms of his conditioning.
“And definitely this week we’ve been working hard. Coach Smart has been working us hard. And actually I’m about to go run right now after this meeting. So it’s definitely about pushing yourself to the next level. You just want to do the things — this is for all the glory. So, if you’re not pushing yourself to the absolute limit, then it’s like what are you here for.” Davis said after the SEC title game in January.
Mike Minnis – Director of Performance Nutrition/Asst. Strength and Conditioning Coach
Mike Minnis has been involved with the Philadelphia Eagles off-and-on since July 2014, when he served as a strength coach/performance nutrition intern. Minnis then worked with the University of Texas at Austin as a sports dietiain intern from January 2015 – April 2015, before returning to the Eagles as a strength and conditioning coach/sports science intern from April 2015 – August 2015. Minnis then became the director of performance nutrition at the University of Southern California, where he worked from 2015-2016. Minnis would return to the Eagles in March of 2016 and served as the team’s coordinator of performance nutrition/assistant strength and conditioning coach, before being promoted to director of performance nutrition in addition to his title as assistant strength and conditioning coach last offseason.
In his current role, (according to the Eagles official website) Minnis, “plans and manages the execution of day-to-day performance nutrition initiatives, administers body composition analysis, and evaluates data to enhance performance and recovery.”
In his role as assistant strength and conditioning coach, Minnis is tasked with assisting the staff with developing and implementing various programs that Noreiga and Rath oversee and enforce.
With his main task being managing and executing nutrition activities, Minnis will be one of the most important individuals in terms of Jordan Davis’ development. Minnis is a very detailed and nuanced worker.
“Be consistent. Don’t put the cart before the horse when it comes to exercise. Before worrying about programming, such as how many sets/reps you should do, which exercises to do, how much cardio to do, what types of cardio are best, be realistic with yourself and determine if you will be able to simply make the time for ANYTHING,” Minnis said in a 2017 interview with weikfitness.com.
“The best program in the world will fail if there is not a level of consistency. Similar to nutrition, you should try to find an exercise program that fits your lifestyle and is something that is sustainable,” Minnis said.
During his time at Georgia, Davis collaborated with Collier Madaleno, Georgia’s director of performance nutrition, on developing a plan to monitor and regulate his weight. Davis even took cooking classes, in addition to eating healthier.
The selection of Jordan Davis was essentially a no-brainer, however, it does not come without risk — chief among them being weight/conditioning. Davis was used on 15.5% of Georgia’s third downs because of conditioning according to Kirby Smart.
When asked if Davis could be an every-down NFL lineman, he responded:
“Absolutely. He could have been a three-down lineman for us here. It’s more about conditioning. When he’s at his top level of conditioning and his best weight, he can play on third down. We’ve got pass rush ability out of the guy. We didn’t ask him to do that because we had the luxury of Jalen Carter and Devonte Wyatt and Travon (Walker) to go in there and do it.”
Davis has legit talent and potential for greatness. He’s a run stuffing monster, with the potential to develop into a very good pass rusher as well. But, it’ll be up to the Eagles and Davis himself if he’s able to keep everything in check and realize that potential. And he knows it.
“I’m drinking smoothies, I’m drinking juices with vegetables—I don’t even like vegetables,” Davis said at SEC Media Day last summer. “I’m just telling myself I’ve got to get it, I’ve got to do it. Do whatever it takes to win.
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