The Titans’ receiving corps was a disaster in 2017. We can beat to death how bad of a coach Mike Mularkey was until the cows come home, but he was not the only problem. The receivers were constantly dropping passes and couldn’t create much separation on their own. Even the legend Delanie Walker had an off year with an alarming number of dropped passes.
With an entirely new coaching staff, Titans fans are obviously optimistic about the receiving corps improving. Corey Davis, the fifth overall pick of the 2017 NFL Draft, is clearly the guy Tennessee most anticipates having a breakthrough. Davis was drafted to give Mariota a legitimate all around threat—especially on the vertical end—but his 2017 season did not go as planned.
Davis did not play a single snap in the 2017 preseason due to a hamstring injury, He started the first two games of the regular season before missing the next five games to the same injury. He finished the regular season with 34 catches for 375 yards and zero touchdowns (In the postseason, he caught nine passes for 98 yards and two touchdowns).
The Titans desperately need Corey Davis to stay healthy.
It was a disappointing season for sure, but a lot of it came outside of the rookie’s control. Even so, the Titans cannot afford to have Davis miss extensive time in 2018, as there is very little established talent on the team’s receiving corps. Davis, Taywan Taylor, Jonnu Smith, and the returning Tajae Sharpe have all played for one season, and neither have put up more than 522 yards in the league. That’s not to say they can’t produce in this league, but that puts more pressure on Davis staying healthy since he has the most expansive skill set.
Davis’ route running needs polish.
So, what’s not to like about Davis? The only major thing I can point out is his route running. His ability to separate is not bad at all. The problem is a few times during his rookie season, he was running his routes a little too close to the quarterback.
This route is just bizarre. It’s 3rd and 5 and Davis is making a diagonal cut to the line of scrimmage. He’s either trying to get as far away from the defense as possible or had zero awareness of where he was.
This route is even worse because Davis actually runs back behind the line of scrimmage. I watch a lot of wide receiver tape, and I can safely say I have never seen a wide receiver do this before. The crazy part is Davis has no valid excuse to going behind the line of scrimmage. No defender is even close to him. It’s 3rd and 8 and he doesn’t just go behind the line of scrimmage, he goes way past the boundary.
That’s my pet peeve with Davis. Fortunately, he has a very well-rounded skill set that is full of potential, so if he’s healthy, it’ll offset any issues he has.
Davis has an uncanny ability to get yards after the catch.
Rotoworld analyst Josh Norris has compared Corey Davis to Oakland Raiders receiver Amari Cooper for his ability to get yards after the catch. I would not disagree with him. Davis has excellent spatial awareness and athleticism at the catch point, allowing him to get yards in all sorts of unique ways, similar to a guy like Adam Thielen.
Davis’ approach on this catch is fantastic. He’s able to sense the left corner is on him, so he fakes a spin move, throwing the corner off guard. That buys just enough time for Davis to attack the first down marker and move chains. It’s one of my favorite plays he’s made thus far in his career.
As a route runner, Davis can be lined up outside or in the slot and not miss a beat in terms of creating separation.
Davis’ ability to separate showed hints of greatness in his rookie season; He weighs 209 lb. yet moves extremely fluid. Here, he fakes a slant route and instead goes for a comeback route. Because of the space he creates, he’s far enough from the corner that he doesn’t have to adjust his body to an awkward angle. The throw from Mariota is on time and Davis picks up an easy first down.
Davis has the ability at the catch point.
Among all things, it’s Davis’ ball skills that will stand out with a larger, injury free sample size. He showed promise at the catch point a few times in his rookie season, and in his sophomore season we should expect more of that.
Davis baits the corner into going inside on this play, breaking the corner’s ankles and granting Davis a load of separation. Mariota throws the ball exactly where it needs to be, but the corner is holding onto Davis’ right arm. Thankfully, He snags the ball with his right hand and immediately tugs it into his chest. He’s able to control the ball as he goes to the ground, as well as get both feet in, giving him one of the most impressive first career touchdowns in recent memory.
Conclusion: A healthy Corey Davis is a quality receiver.
Corey Davis’ rookie season was marred by injuries, but there were also enough moments where I’m able to see how good he could be. At full health, I think he can be really good. He’s a versatile receiver that has a nice route tree, allowing him to be a threat anywhere on the field if he develops. You never want a guy to have the injury history of Kevin White, so it’s important for Davis, especially with a young receiving corps, to stay healthy.
If he does, there’s plenty of reason for Titans fans to be exciting for the high ceiling receiver.