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2024 NFL Draft

Steelers Draft Profile: Kentucky RB Ray Davis Wants to Be Just Like Jaylen Warren



Pittsburgh Steelers 2024 NFL Draft prospect Kentucky RB Ray Davis
Kentucky running back Ray Davis after practice during the week of the 2024 Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala. -- Alan Saunders / Steelers Now

Jaylen Warren may be a household name among Pittsburgh Steelers fans, but despite legion of fans among the black and gold faithful, he’s not exactly one of the best-known running back in the NFL.

So when a prospect in the 2024 NFL Draft picked him out as his favorite player in the NFL, that will turn some heads.

Kentucky running back Ray Davis singled out Warren as his favorite player in the NFL right now when speaking to Steelers Now at the 2024 Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala. earlier this month.

Davis is from the Bay Area of California like fellow Steelers running back Najee Harris, and while he has appreciation for Harris’ game, it’s Warren that he’s really drawn to when it comes to backs at the NFL level.

“He’s very aggressive,” Davis said. “He runs behind his pads, but he also maximizes his reps. He’s behind a future Hall of Famer in Najee Harris. To be able to go out there and be able to provide that one-two punch and a different type of speed and tempo, you can’t ask for much more.”

Davis might also identify with Warren’s winding path to the NFL. While he was not a junior college player like Warren, Davis also had many stops in his career before his pro journey began.

Davis spent time in foster care growing up, and despite being from California, played his high school football at Trinity-Pawling School in New York. He was forced to play a post-graduate year at Blair (N.J.) Academy because of his grades.

At Blair, nestled in a tiny town near the Delaware River in the mountains of northwestern New Jersey, Davis became a three-star prospect, and attracted attention from the likes of Albany, Kent State and Maine. His highest-level offer was from Temple at the Group of Five level, and that’s where he started his college journey.

Davis started as a true freshman for the Owls in 2019, rushing 193 times for 936 yards and eight touchdowns while being named a PFF All-American. But four games into his second season at Temple, Davis decided to opt out of the remainder of the 2020 season and enter the transfer portal.

He ended up at Vanderbilt, where a toe injury cut short his 2021 season, but he bounced back in 2022, rushing 232 times for 1,042 yards and five touchdowns as the Commodores starting running back.

Davis had the opportunity to enter the NFL Draft at that point, but with two seasons of eligibility left, he decided to go back into the transfer portal and use one of them by transferring up from Vandy, but staying in the SEC at Kentucky.

At Kentucky, Davis grew into a true three-down back, adding pass-catching to his repertoire. He ran 199 times for 1,129 yards in his redshirt senior year, posting a career-best 5.7 yards per carry and an eye-popping 14 touchdowns. He also caught 33 passes for 323 yards and seven more scores through the air.

“Ray is a good player,” Vanderbilt head coach Clark Lea said in 2023 after the transfer. “He was good when he was here. He’s got good vision and good feet. He’s got a knack for finding the space. He’s got a knack for knowing when to cut back and get against the grain and break the long one. He’s also a really good receiver in the past, we saw that when he was here, and I see that not only are they using him as a checkdown option, but they’re also designing catches for the offense, which I think is really smart because he can do that.”

Adding another dimension to his game, and doing it in a pro-style offense run by former Los Angeles Rams offensive coordinator and Sean McVay disciple Liam Coen, was a big reason for Davis to seek a transfer.

“A lot of people look at me as a bigger, bulldozing type of back, but I have the ability to be versatile,” Davis said. “I can catch the ball, I can pass block and I can also run. I have three good traits that keep me as a third down back. To be able to stay in the game as long as possible, but to also bring value to special teams was also big.”

In addition to playing running backs, Davis returned kicks in Mobile and worked on special teams coverage units. As a player who recently developed some of that three-down skill, the thing he wanted to show he can improve at is where Warren first earned his NFL shot: pass protection.

“I wanted to get better at pass pro,” Davis said. “Technique can always be taught. I just wanted to keep elevating my game and understanding. I can always be critical and diversifying my game in many ways.

“You have to have the willingness to go out there and compete. You have to have the willingness to go out there and protect your quarterback. Quarterback is the most important position on the team, so you have to go out there and show that you’re not afraid to go against a guy who is 6-4, 6-5. Being in the SEC, none of our linebackers are probably under 6-3. They’re not under 250. So, I’ve gotta show that just because I’m a smaller guy, I’m not afraid to put my face in somebody’s chest and protect our quarterback.”

If that sounds a lot like Warren, that’s probably not by accident.


Measured and tested at the 2024 NFL Combine: 5-foot-8 3/8, 211 pounds, 8 7/8-inch hands, 30 1/4-inch arms, 72 1/4-inch wingspan.

Ray Davis is not a tall man, at 5-foot-8 3/8, and even for the usually shorter than most crowd of NFL running backs, he’s on the slight side. But he is 1/4 of an inch taller than Warren, who checked in at 5-foot-8 1/8. He’s also four pounds heavier than Warren. Davis is a solidly built, thick back who might draw a better comparison to Doug Martin. (5-foot-9 1/2, 223 pounds).

Both Martin and Warren ran 4.55-second 40-yard dashes, but Martin showed to be the more explosive athlete with a better vertical and broad jump, shuttle and three-cone drill. Martin was drafted in the first round and Warren went undrafted, so the stakes were high for Davis at the NFL Combine.

Davis edged both Warren and Martin in the 40-yard dash as he ran to a 4.52 time in the event. In his other running drills, Davis performed well with a 1.56-second 10-yard split and a 4.51-second 20-yard shuttle. In addition to his runs, Davis posted a 35-inch vertical and a 9-foot-11 broad jump.


It really depends on how well he runs. The draft position, and the ranking for Ray Davis among running backs in this class, have been all over the board. His NFL Mock Draft Database average has fluctuated all the way from No. 90 overall back in November to bottoming out at No. 164 in late December before rebounding.

His strong week of Senior Bowl practices do not seem to have done much for his draft stock, which has actually fallen since the start of February. He’s now ranked No. 142 overall.

At this point, it seems likely that Davis will be either third or fourth-round pick, but that could still change a lot between now and draft day.


Davis is a powerful, low-to-the-ground runner that makes the most of his athletic ability.

Davis has very nice vision and makes a very decisive first cut. For a bigger back, he seems comfortable of running out of the shotgun.

Davis has good contact balance and fights through tackles to make the pile fall forward. He does not have elite burst on tape, but has enough long speed to keep defenders behind him if he has an angel in open space.

As a receiver, he has solid hands is very comfortable on swings and dump-offs, but he’s not some kind of elite route-runner. Despite that, he gets his head around and finds the ball on wheel routes surprisingly well for a player of his stature. His receiving abilities appear to still be developing, so this is an area he could continue to show improvement.

If the Steelers want their running back situation to be dominated by the two-headed monster of Harris and Warren, then they need a backup that could be capable of replacing either of their co-starters, and Davis might just thread that needle.

He’s probably not as good as either are in pass protection right now, but that’s a common skill that needs improvement on young backs. But Davis has the size and pile-pushing abilities of Harris and the receiving chops and one-cut decisiveness of Warren, potentially giving the Steelers a nice do-it-all backup at the running back position.

The question will be, if he runs well, if the Steelers want to use a pick that early on someone who will almost certainly be a No. 3 running back.