Sometimes you just know…
Sometimes a player just pops off the screen of the TV and it is obvious they are going to be special. Last year, I remember sitting in a bar on the opening week of college football, watching Michigan play Western Michigan and the whole game I could not ignore #84 on the Broncos: Corey Davis.
Western Michigan eventually lost the game, but that did not keep Davis from posting a tremendous 10 catches for 144 yards and a touchdown on one of the better defenses in college football. Davis intrigued me and unsurprisingly he spent the rest of that season dominating the MAC. Despite posting over 1,400 yards and 12 touchdowns in his junior season, the 6’3” stud decided to return for his senior season and, frankly I am sure Western Michigan appreciates that decision now more than ever.
You see, Davis had been the guy since his first year at campus. In 2013, Davis was the most productive freshman receiver in the country, totaling over 900 receiving yards. However, despite his personal success, Western Michigan lost 11 games. After his freshman season, Davis quickly grew into one of the best receivers in college football and keyed Western Michigan’s offense from then until now. After Western Michgian’s 11 loss season in 2013, they have only lost 10 games since, this year going undefeated into their bowl.
Western Michigan’s undefeated season can largely be attributed to Davis’ continued ascendance as a college receiver. He broke the NCAA record for all-time receiving yards with 5,205 and with 1,427 yards this season, he’s likely to break last year’s single-season career high of 1,429 in the Cotton Bowl against Wisconsin. He’s also posted 18 touchdowns this season, the country’s leading number. So to recap, Davis has over 5,200 receiving yards and 51 career touchdowns in his four seasons at Western Michigan with one game left to go, and his success has been a massive component in Western Michigan’s rise as a program… Not bad!
So, it is obvious that Davis is a great college player, but there are plenty of productive college receivers who struggle to replicate their production at the next level. After all, Davis is producing, but in a lesser conference with less gifted athletes. So of course there will naturally be skepticism when he is compared to big school names like Mike Williams or John Ross. However the fact is that Davis is not just doing well in the MAC, it is that he has dominated at truly outstanding rates and his production is overwhelmingly positive, accounting for over 55% of his team’s passing touchdowns, 40% of their yards and 35% of their catches. Those numbers are among the best in college football, and that is difficult to discount.
But draft evaluation is more than numbers, it is traits and Davis has NFL skills in spades. What stands out first is his size. The 6’3”, 215 pounder has a large, strong build with long arms and big hands. He uses his body incredibly well both in terms of fighting through contact at the line and also winning with the ball in the air. He has the prototypical possession receiver skills, but there is still so much more. Despite being a big receiver, Davis has excellent quickness and overall athletic ability. He is a savvy route runner who is quick through his breaks and is excellent at exposing soft spots in zone coverage, but he also has really impressive pure speed for his size that allows him to get open deep down the field. His second gear and size also make him dangerous after the catch and he has well above average vision with the ball in his hands to make him a threat to score from anywhere on the field.
The reality is that Davis has a complete NFL game. There are a few drops along the way that will frustrate Eagles fans, I am sure, but when a player is getting 10 targets a game, those drops are bound to happen. What is important is that Davis is a game changing talent and can be deployed in various ways. He isn’t a “deep threat” or a “possession receiver”… He is just an all around baller.
There is a part of me that wants to go very, very bold and say that I can’t help but think of TO when I watch Corey Davis. The way he wins all over the field, his savvy and smooth movement for such a big receiver and the way he fights to make a play at every opportunity is astounding.
There is not really an offense or a role that would limit him at the next level and I assume he has a nice outing at the NFL combine that proves he has the athletic ability to play as an outside receiver. I have no clue how the NFL will weigh competition level, but Davis dominated the MAC and posterized defenders when he faced more talented programs. Very little can change in my mind over the next few months that Davis is the best receiver in this class and if there is a playmaker that Eagles want to aggressively pursue in the draft, it is Corey Davis.