Leading up to the NFL Draft April 27, Brad Evans and Liz Loza will crouch down, explode off the snap and tackle pressing questions about some of this year’s most prominent prospects. Monday’s “Three-Point Stance” focus: Western Michigan WR Corey Davis.
Several advanced scouts have compared Corey Davis to established targets Eric Decker, Keenan Allen and Demaryius Thomas – high praise. Do you feel that’s a fair representation? What are his biggest strengths?
Brad – Like another former Western Michigan standout before him, Greg Jennings, Davis has a route tree akin to a 100-year-old ficus. Slants, crosses, posts, outs, digs — he can run virtually anything with near impeccable timing and precision. That combined with his firm musculature (cut 210 pounds) and height (6-foot-3) suggest he should be able to gain separation, particularly in the short-to-intermediate field. Equally impressive, he’s a staunch competitor who high-points beautifully and wins many battles inside the red-zone.
If there’s a Michael Thomas in this year’s Draft, it’s undoubtedly Davis. He’s the all-time leader in collegiate receiving yards for a reason. Heck, he could make Brock Osweiler seem accurate. Ok, admittedly that’s a stretch. Still, Davis should produce quality numbers out of the gate and, barring injury, be a consistency king for years to come. The man-love is real.
Liz – Davis’ footwork and body control are stunning, almost like a running back’s. In fact, I think there’s some Shady McCoy to his game. The kid’s spin move is on point, as are his ball tracking skills and ability to dominate at all levels of the field. Add in excellent timing, breakaway quickness, and a solid leaping ability, and Davis should continue to produce in the red zone (he scored 52 TDs while at Western Michigan) in real life as well as fantasy.
The WMU standout, projects to be an ultra-capable No. 2 WR with WR1 potential (landing spot dependent) at the next level. He’s my No. 1 ranked wideout in this year’s draft.
Conversely, what reservations might a GM or head coach have about the Western Michigan product? Are you overly concerned about his surgically repaired ankle?
Brad – Davis possesses few chinks in the armor. Downfield speed is likely his weakest attribute. He didn’t participate in the 40-yard dash at the Combine and most analysts suspect he’s a 4.50-4.55 sprinter. Leaving NFL defensive backs in the dust may only happen sporadically, though he does showcase solid open-field burst on film. His occasional lapses in concentration and ankle procedure aren’t overly concerning. He also didn’t bog down against formidable competition, evidenced in his efforts against Northwestern (7-70-1), Illinois (4-97-0) and Wisconsin (6-73-1) last year. Don’t fret about his MAC ties.
Liz – Probably the biggest concern is the level of competition he faced in the MAC conference. He also had some focus issues, racking up 16 drops over his last three years at WMU. Ultimately, however, the evolution and improvement of Davis’ game over the course of his college career alley any potential fears of his flaming out.
As for the ankle, to say it was “surgically repaired” is a bit hyperbolic. It was reported that Davis suffered an “extermely minor” injury while training for the Combine. The surgery itself was likely a small “clean-up” job. The timing was unfortunate as it prevented the Chicago-area prospect from running at the Combine, but there’s not enough in his history to concern me at the moment.
Ok, gaze into the crystal ball; what’s the best landing spot for Davis in Round 1 of the NFL Draft? Assuming he is picked by that team, what’s your fearless forecast for him Year 1? Where would he stack up against veteran fantasy wideouts?
Brad – Unquestionably, Davis is the most complete wide receiver in this year’s class. His smooth routes, separation abilities, physicality, after-catch acceleration, versatility and red-zone showmanship arrow to initial fantasy success. Landing spot, however, means nearly everything.
In a perfect world, Tennessee, which owns the No. 5 overall pick, would be an awfully attractive locale for the youngster. Marcus Mariota is a budding superstar, the ground game is well-entrenched behind DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry and, with Rishard Matthews the only established WR on roster, he would easily overtake Tajae Sharpe as the team’s clear-cut No. 2, at a minimum. If that occurred, which is probably a stretch, a WR top-20 level rookie campaign wouldn’t be out of bounds.
Most likely, Davis will wind up with either the Ravens or Chiefs and contribute borderline WR2 results in 12-team leagues. Arizona, a very enticing employer, is another possibility. Each scenario presents a different outcome, but he could finish in range of 65-70 receptions, 925-975 yards with 5-8 TDs, close to what the aforementioned Matthews (WR25 in ’16) tallied with the Titans a season ago.
Liz – The Chargers could look to snag Davis early, hoping to energize a new(ish) fan base while simultaneously landing on a younger and (hopefully) more durable version of Keenan Allen. The Bengals are also interesting at the nine spot, attempting to give 28-year-old A.J. Green some breathing room. But for my money, I’d love to see the former Bronco land in Baltimore.
With Steve Smith Sr. hanging up his cleats, and Kamar Aiken joining the Colts, the Ravens have a need at wide receiver. While Mike Wallace led the team’s wideouts in targets (TE Dennis Pitta actually accrued more looks) and Breshad Perriman flashed, their skill sets remain virtually identical. In an offense that led the league in passing plays last season, Davis has an opportunity to make an immediate impact, working as a chess piece all over the field.
Assuming he stays healthy, I’d fearlessly forecast a 79-946-6 stat line, which would earn him solid low-end WR2 status. For reference, I’d take him after Donte Moncrief, but ahead of Emmanuel Sanders.