Your all-time FBS receiving leader? Look no further than Corey Davis out of the ‘small school’ up in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Typically when you see a player post this type of production at a school with the caliber of Western Michigan, the player could be both a product of the system he plays in, and/or benefitting from poor competition and the player doesn’t project so well at the next level. In the case of Corey Davis, a former 2-star recruit, his talent backs up his astounding college production.
Davis was pivotal in Western Michigan’s 13-0 run this season which saw the Group of 5 team make an appearance in the Cotton Bowl. Not only that, but you could make the argument that his effort were a key factor in the rise of P.J. Fleck as a college head coach, which resulted in him receiving a job upgrade as he moves on to the Big Ten to coach at Minnesota.
We were almost blessed with the opportunity to see more of Corey Davis in action following the season. An ankle injury he suffered during offseason training forced him to pull out of the Senior Bowl, and will also hold him out of the NFL Combine in early March. The injury isn’t believed to be too serious, and he is still expected to participate in his Pro Day.
At this point in the draft process, Davis is in the running with Clemson receiver Mike Williams as the top receiver in this year’s draft class. That alone says a lot about the talent of a guy coming out of Western Michigan up against a reigning National Champion. Does Davis have what it takes to be the first receiver off the board come April?
Name: Corey Davis
School: Western Michigan
Comparison: Demaryius Thomas (Denver Broncos)
Draft Grade: Top 15
— Jonathan Valencia (@JonValencia_WiB) February 4, 2017
Positives: Slick route runner. Glides out of his breaks. Best route is the “in-n-out”. Explosive after the catch and can take it the distance on short passes. Lethal on catch-and-runs. Physical after the catch and fights for extra yardage. Delivers a nasty stiff arm. Quick, agile, and shifty in the open field. Can make guys miss with elusiveness after the catch. Weaves through traffic effectively and makes it look easy. Turns the corner with a lot of burst. A lot of energy after the catch. Difficult to tackle 1-0n-1 in space. Most of his catches go for 1st downs – recognizes where the marker is and usually gets to it. Physical at point of attack against press. Slides feet and can make catches on the sideline. Wins 1-on-1 battles downfield on deep throws more often than not – shields defender away from lobs and can high point the ball. Usually displays good body control and adjustment to the ball. Good blocker who drives his legs effectively, angles defenders away from ball carrier and finishes blocks. Occasionally utilized as lead blocker on screens. Can play in the slot or outside. Difficult to contain in the redzone. Reliable, trusted weapon. Known as studious and hard worker.
Negatives: Lacks top-end speed to burn defenders deep. Not a natural hands catcher. Struggles to catch underthrown, catchable balls or passes he is forced to comeback to. Doesn’t always haul in catches on contact. Can be too deceiving on comeback/curl routes at times – recognizable hand movement and leg pump. Poor college competition Suffered an ankle injury during offseason training which will prevent him from participating in the NFL Combine.
Outlook: Up until Draft Day in April, the debate regarding the top WR in the 2017 NFL Draft class is going to be between Corey Davis, and Clemson’s Mike Williams. They are very close in terms of talent but bring different skillsets to the table – it’s all a matter of preference. Davis is a YAC machine who can do a little bit of everything and will consistently beat you with his shiftiness and superb route running. The former 2-star recruit is set to become the 2nd Western Michigan player selected in the 1st round in school history. (Jason Babin, 2004)