I had the opportunity to speak with former University of Charlotte offensive line coach Chris Scelfo. Coach Scelfo coached Nate Davis in 2018, a season that was key for Davis’ draft prospects and a large reason why the Titans drafted Davis in the third round this year. Coach Scelfo has been coaching since the mid 80’s and has NFL experience as he served as the Falcons TE coach from 2008 to 2014. In addition to his work at Charlotte and in the NFL, he’s also coached at Georgia, and recently spent time on Houston’s coaching staff when Ed Oliver was there. He most recently coached with the Arizona Hotshots in the now defunct AAF. He’ll coach in the XFL this season.
He’s seen a lot of talent during his coaching career and provided me with some excellent insight into what the Titans are getting in Davis.
JM: There haven’t been a ton of NFL prospects to come through Charlotte. Larry Ogunjobi comes to mind and now Nate Davis. What was your first impression of Davis?
CS: The first impression I had of Nate when I arrived and put the tape on was that his talent jumped out at me. After I was hired, I didn’t arrive with any knowledge who the players were. I’ve coached in the NFL and at a ton of college programs and he just stood out to me immediately.
JM: You coached him during his senior year in 2018. He played both right tackle and guard for you. Which position do you think is his best fit at the next level?
CS: I think he’ll be a tremendous guard. I think he can be as good as there is in the NFL if they keep him inside and I believe that is the plan that they have for him in Tennessee. Experience is gonna help him. He needs the repetition. As far as his athleticism and power goes, guys like him don’t come around very often. He has the balance and he’s extremely powerful. He’s nasty. Tennessee did a heck of a job doing their homework on him. I didn’t think he was gonna last as long as he did in the draft. Congratulations are in order for coach Vrabel and his staff. They did their homework on him.
JM: I’m glad you brought up Vrabel and the staff. Did they come around a lot during his senior season?
CS: I received several calls on him from a bunch of NFL teams. I don’t really know who’s at the games, I’m busy coaching but I can tell you they did their homework on him. I know that one of their scouts was at two of our home games. I spoke to him. That was Patrick Woo who was previously with the Senior Bowl. He spoke to me in person about Nate.
Their offensive line coach Keith Carter called me. Mike [Vrabel] and I exchanged several texts throughout the process.
JM: It seems to me they were very interested in him. Woo, Carter and Vrabel all spoke to you.
CS: They certainly were. Coach Carter and Vrabel spoke to me after the Senior Bowl. It was smack middle in the process that I spoke to those guys.
JM: What scheme do you think best fits his skill set at the next level?
CS: He’s an incredibly powerful guy. I think he’ll be excellent in whatever they decide to run. Gap schemes will probably be where he’ll shine the most.
JM: The Titans run a lot of outside zone.
CS: He has the athleticism to do that. I think he can fill in at tackle if need be as well. I think he’ll be a starter at guard for them though. He just has to get to work in OTA’s, mini-camp and training camp when they finally put the pads on. That’s when you’ll see the full package.
JM: What was your process on teaching hand technique to a guy of his stature and skill set?
CS: The biggest thing is getting him comfortable using his hands. A lot of young players don’t believe in that because they’re afraid of getting off balance. You have to be able to trust that your hands are a major part of the process. That’s one of the biggest hurdles of teaching young offensive linemen. I didn’t get to spend enough time with Nate on that. I know they’ll get him right in Tennessee though. It’s something he has to do a better job of.
JM: How does he help in the run game?
CS: I think he has the balance and power to really excel there. He can connect with guys at the second level and finish them off. That’s a big part of what he offers.
JM: Much was made of his stance throughout the process. I think it was Titans general manager Jon Robinson who said coach Carter fixed that within a couple of minutes. Did you notice anything unorthodox about his stance and did you try to fix it?
CS: I never tried to change it. Right off the bat I recognized that he had a bit of a frog stance. To be honest, I had too much other grass to mow to worry about that. I didn’t wanna mess with him. I knew he’d quickly get that fixed at the next level. It wasn’t a major distraction for him. It reminded me a little bit of Ed Oliver when I was at Houston. People always talked about his stance as well. It was kind of the same thing, that frog stance low to the ground. It didn’t hurt his production.
JM: It’s interesting you mention that. Sometimes the draft process brings too much attention to something. It seems like that will get fixed rather quickly.
CS: And that’s the thing. If there aren’t little things that need fixing, why do we even need coaches? (laughs).
JM: You’re not wrong. Coming from a smaller program like Charlotte, he’ll have to adapt to the speed and talent at the NFL level. What does he need to do to make as smooth of a transition as possible?
CS: I know that the speed of the game is faster, the terminology is longer and more complex. I’ve coached in the NFL and I’ve coached in college, both at major programs and smaller ones. I’ve always believed that if you can do a job, you can do it anywhere. I don’t think he’s going to have a rough time. I don’t see his adjustment as being anything major. The only adjustment he has to make is understanding that he doesn’t have to go to school anymore. Football is full-time for him now. That can be a bigger transition for these kids than some realize. At the end of the day, when you step between those white lines, it’s still football and he’s really good at it.
JM: I love that answer. In closing, do you think he can start immediately? The Titans enter training camp with a wide open competition at RG.
CS: I can’t speak to the other personnel they have in the building but Nate is going to be one of the better players on the offensive line from Day 1.