As we dive into draft season, don’t let the school beside Corey Davis’ name fool you. Western Michigan isn’t known as an NFL factory, but they’ve produced the best wide receiver in this 2017 class.
Davis is a four year starter that shattered nearly every record at Western Michigan. This season he became the NCAA’s all time leader in receiving yards. That’s a crazy and nearly unbelievable statistic. His 5,278 yards sit on top of the NCAA leaderboard. His 52 touchdowns rank second all time.
Remember that little nugget we learned about Jon Robinson during last year’s draft? The one about production? Keep that in mind with Corey Davis. Robinson has only drafted one receiver for the Titans, but look at what that receiver did in college.
Tajae Sharpe didn’t become a full time player until his Junior season, but he still ranks 69th in all time NCAA receiving yards. You saw how much he valued his production in his final two years (1,281, 1,319 yards), so it seems like he would be all in on Davis, who showed out during all four years of his Western Michigan career.
Going a step further, Davis accounted for 42 percent of Western Michigan’s receiving yards in 2016. He accounted for 58 percent of their touchdowns scored through the air, which was tied for the best percentage in college football with Syracuse’s Amba Etta-Tawo. These are elite market share levels.
But don’t get things twisted here — Davis is far from just a statistic. He’s a stud athlete and explosive receiver. He should test really well athletically at the combine. He’s sudden, shifty and downright fast when he needs to be. He has the ability to run by you and he has the aggressive, “my-ball” attitude that separates the men from the boys in the NFL. His effort as a blocker will only garner him move love when coaches get a hold of the tape.
His 6-3, 213 pound frame doesn’t hurt, either. He’s a guy that offers you a little bit of everything without presenting many weaknesses. His games were all sorts of fun to breakdown. The competition level is lacking on a few of these clips, but he performed well in his limited opportunities against top talent.
Here’s a good introduction to Corey Davis. This play was made during his sophomore season. First of all, note the separation on the post. He gave his quarterback plenty of room to operate here. After he hauls in the pass, he throws a nasty stiff arm then darts around the corner for the score.
My favorite thing about Davis is his release off of the line of scrimmage. He has a fantastic ability to beat press coverage and immediately get ahead when running routes. A good release can be key for receivers when trying to get separation. If they succeed, they are a step ahead. Davis consistently plays one step ahead.
Below is a good example. He hits a quick outside release here, attacking the defender’s hands which were used in a press attempt. Davis sheds him and leaves him behind. An accurate throw here probably gives Davis a touchdown, but he’s forced to slow up and make a play on the ball.
I’ve mentioned his explosion, now look at it on display below. At the top of the GIF, watch Davis motor by this Michigan State cornerback. He starts separating 20+ yards down the field, if you have any concerns about his play speed. Again — an on target throw here results in a touchdown, but the throw is left short. Davis couldn’t haul it in, but this one isn’t on him.
One thing that I think will translate immediately to the next level is Davis’ ability to run routes. He’s explosive and agile in and out of breaks and has strength to fight through physicality.
Here Davis works the corner with a quick, concise inside move. He sells the deep route and the corner certainly respects it. Davis then sits down, leaving the corner out to pasture.
This is a simple out route — pretty standard stuff. The defender is forced to play off of him to stay on top of his route and Davis hits him with a quick turn to the sideline. He’s so smooth and quick through his break that his defender doesn’t have a shot. You see what Davis can do after the catch here too.
How would Davis fit in Nashville? He and Rishard Matthews would make perfect outside targets for Marcus Mariota. Davis is a legitimate number one at the next level in my mind, which is something that the Titans haven’t had in years.
What I love about Davis is he offers a little bit of everything. He can go deep on you, he can create after the catch or he can make those tough grabs over the middle. Davis is an aggressive attacker of the football, which would give Mariota another threat he could trust to go win a 50-50 ball.
Davis would add a dynamic element to an offense that could use one. His physicality and production are going to win him brownie points with both Jon Robinson and Mike Mularkey. I can’t think of a more perfect player to land in Nashville.
I get asked for NFL comparisons all the time. I won’t force one if it isn’t there, but I see a ton of Dez Bryant in Corey Davis. The aggression, attitude and explosive strides all remind me of Dez, and I don’t throw that name around lightly.
Davis would be the ideal selection at the 18 slot, but I’m not sold he lasts to that point. With Robinson’s ammo, he should have no problem shifting things around if he wants him. Personally, I’d find a way to snag him.