Greg Cosell's NFL Draft Preview: Corey Davis is my top wide receiver prospect in this draft

Shutdown Corner

Western Michigan’s Corey Davis, in my opinion, is the best receiving prospect in this year’s draft. I think he has a chance to be a big-time NFL receiver.

When I see Corey Davis’ size and movement, I see similarities to Dez Bryant. Davis has a similar body build to Bryant, and while he’s not quite as explosive as an athlete, he’s a tall (6-foot-3, 209 pounds) long-strider and is very deceptive with his long speed. Also, his run-after-catch ability is sudden and explosive.

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I’m not saying Davis is Julio Jones at this point, but he’s closer to that type of receiver than a big possession receiver, like Keenan Allen of the San Diego Chargers.

Corey Davis of Western Michigan will be one of the top receivers in the 2017 draft. (AP)
Corey Davis of Western Michigan will be one of the top receivers in the 2017 draft. (AP)

There’s a lot to like about Davis’ film, so let’s take a look at his strengths and weaknesses:

STRENGTHS

There are a lot of positive elements to Davis’ game.

His run-after-catch ability is excellent because of sudden movement and an explosive burst. Here’s an example of that on a 46-yard touchdown against North Carolina Central.

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On this 22-yard touchdown against Buffalo we can see Davis’ ability to beat press coverage with his physicality, and then his instant acceleration to score. Davis, who lined up wide to the right, showed the ability to work through press coverage without being held up at the line of scrimmage.

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Davis is also a good route runner. He showed the understanding to threaten a cornerback’s area of responsibility, and a good feel for setting up corners with his vertical stem. A great example of his route running came on a 70-yard touchdown against Ohio. He used the vertical stem to impact the defensive back to create separation on a dig route, then had explosive acceleration again, and speed after the catch.

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At times Davis has an acrobatic dimension to his game, with excellent body control. He showed off the body control on this contested 31-yard touchdown catch against Eastern Michigan.

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Davis has good size with a powerful looking build. He has smooth and fluid movement as a route runner. There’s a deceptive burst and acceleration on vertical routes, showing late separation with the ball in the air. He has excellent, soft hands, and once he has the ball he transitions easily to the run after the catch. He’s also a good red-zone threat with his size and hands.

Davis checks off a lot of boxes you want from a top receiver.

WEAKNESSES

An ankle injury prevented Davis from running the 40-yard dash at the combine or his pro day, and many are concerned about his timed speed. But he played fast and showed acceleration on film, and keep in mind that Jordy Nelson ran a 4.51 at his combine and developed into a vertical receiver in the NFL.

Davis had a few too many drops on routine catches in 2016. Because he has excellent hands my sense is they were concentration drops, but he must clean that up.

Davis is also very smooth but not sudden in and out of his breaks. But for the most part, there’s not much to nitpick about Davis’ game.

TRANSITION TO NFL

Davis profiles as an “X” receiver in the NFL with his size and receiving traits. Some will question his ability to get on top of NFL cornerbacks with his speed, but I don’t have those concerns because he showed vertical ability on his game tape. I think he has a vertical dimension to his game.

I also like that Davis lined up in the slot and outside. I think he’s a more naturally explosive mover than Clemson’s Mike Davis, and he’ll give an offense more flexibility too. He is my top receiver in this draft.

More NFL draft breakdowns from Greg Cosell:
Clemson QB Deshaun Watson
North Carolina QB Mitchell Trubisky
Notre Dame QB DeShone Kizer
Texas Tech QB Patrick Mahomes and Cal QB Davis Webb
LSU RB Leonard Fournette
Stanford RB Christian McCaffrey
Oklahoma RB Joe Mixon

Florida State RB Dalvin Cook
Clemson WR Mike Williams

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NFL analyst and NFL Films senior producer Greg Cosell watches as much NFL game film as anyone. Throughout the season, Cosell will join Shutdown Corner to share his observations on the teams, schemes and personnel from around the league.

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