A two-star recruit out of Wheaton (Ill.) Warrenville South High
School who made it through what was often a difficult
upbringing, Davis was one of the few bright spots during Western
Michigan's 1-11 campaign in 2013, tallying eight catches for 96
yards and a touchdown in his first career game against Michigan
State that proved to be a sign of things to come en route to being
named Mid-American Conference Freshman of the Year. While 67 receptions
for 941 yards and six scores qualifies as a career year for most,
Davis' freshman totals were easily the least impressive of his college
career. Davis scored in all but one game as a sophomore (78-1,408-15),
and he became the first player in school history to catch more than
one TD pass in a bowl game after ripping Air Force for three in
the 2014 Famous Idaho Potato Bowl. He was named to the All-MAC first
team for the second straight season as a junior in 2015 after posting
90 catches for 1,436 yards and 12 scores,
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finishing the year with
seven straight 100-yard efforts. His brilliant career culminated
with career highs in receptions (97), receiving yards (1,500) and
TDs (19), all of which were among the top 10 totals in the country
and more than enough to capture first-team All-American honors.
Davis' 5,285 career receiving yards is the best mark in FBS history,
while his 52 receiving scores ranks second all-time.
NFL Player Comp(s):Brandon Marshall Low-end NFL Player Comp(s):
Best Scheme Fit: West Coast
offense. Davis excels at the short and intermediate levels, and
he is among the best in his class in generating yards after the
catch. Note: All times listed in parentheses
in strengths/weaknesses section reflect the start time on video
- via Draft Breakdown - that displays that skill/trait.
Three straight seasons of elite production (no fewer than
67 catches in any of his four seasons and 46 total touchdowns
over his last three years) speak to his ability and desire to
win near the goal line. (2:42,
Impressive strength/quickness combination allows him to excel
on short and intermediate routes and be a significant factor
after the catch. (1:30,
Aggressively seeks out to block defenders (1:39,
and not afraid to lay the wood. (3:55,
More quick than fast; seems to lack true breakaway speed with
ball in his hands and doesn't generally create much separation.
Will occasionally let the ball get into his body and/or failed
to catch a few too many balls that hit him in the hands. (0:32,
charged with 16 drops over last three years.
Would like to see more consistent effort on off-target passes
or fighting for balls in which the defensive back is in better
Needs to do a better job selling the deep route (0:46,
and doesn't always track the ball over his shoulder as well
as he needs to on downfield throws. (0:57,
Davis was dominant in the MAC for the bulk of his career, which
is what a prospect from a non-Power 5 school has to be in order
to be considered first-round worthy. With that said, he more than
held his own against three Big Ten schools in 2016 alone, so cynics
can stop the "small-school talk" right now. Yet, for
all of his production, he didn't do it in a way most "lower-level"
prospects do: He beat the majority of MAC defensive backs through
route-running, desire and power as opposed to speed and jumping
ability. Therefore, he may be the rare case who may actually benefit
from not being able to participate in the combine and pro-day
circuit, as I highly doubt his measurables would have stacked
up all that well against his peers.
Davis is more of a finished product than Clemson's Mike Williams,
albeit one with a higher floor and lower ceiling. Whereas Williams
created a lot of big plays in college via his ability to win on
back-shoulder throws and 50/50 balls, Davis created most of his
big plays with his ability to pick up yards after the catch. Davis
was targeted mostly on short and intermediate throws, meaning
it is difficult to truly project if he is anywhere close to Williams
in terms of being a downfield threat. Then again, former Western
Michigan HC P.J. Fleck may have done this on purpose due to arm-strength
concerns about QB Zach Terrell, who repeatedly underthrew Davis
on longer passes.
Despite checking in two inches and 20 pounds less than Marshall
did coming out of Central Florida, Davis plays with the same kind
of physicality as Marshall. Whether or not Davis needs to add
more muscle in order to maintain that level of physicality at
the NFL remains to be seen, but it is a good bet he will. Perhaps
Davis will surprise with his ability to dominate downfield with
a stronger-armed quarterback next season, but he is more likely
to earn his way initially as his quarterback's most trusted on
third down and in the red zone. The aforementioned drops are a
concern, but I'd stop short of saying they will be the reason
he fails to live up to his draft slot. Davis should step in immediately
as his team's No. 2 receiver and is probably the safest receiver
in this draft all things considered. While he'll need the same
kind of luck in terms of being paired up with a great quarterback,
if anyone from this draft class is going to be this year's Michael Thomas, my money would be on Davis.
Doug Orth has written for FF
Today since 2006 and been featured in USA Today’s Fantasy
Football Preview magazine since 2010. He hosted USA Today’s
hour-long, pre-kickoff fantasy football internet chat every Sunday
in 2012-13 and appears as a guest analyst on a number of national
sports radio shows, including Sirius XM’s “Fantasy Drive”.
Doug is also a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association.