Steve Picciano: @RandomGrenades
Quite possibly the most extensive and in-depth analysis of Corey Davis and Mike Williams that the Fantasy Community will see this 0ff-season.
The Big Decision:
I’m writing this article in an attempt to help me with one of the biggest decisions I’ll have in the coming weeks, do I take Corey Davis or Mike Williams? I find myself holding the #3 and #5 picks in my league’s Rookie draft coming up in June, both acquired vis-à-vis trades that happened in previous years. Because I’m positioned so highly, I must anticipate that either Davis or Williams, or perhaps both, will be available for me.
Now, you might be scratching your head thinking, “Davis will be gone at #1, so don’t even worry about it”, but that may not be the case in my league since we implement the Perfect Scoring System to make all positions of equal relevance. Part of that equation is awarding a 2 PPR premium to the TE position. Because the prospects at the TE position are of very high quality this year, I have to assume that at least one of them have a decent chance of going early, which could allow Davis to slide to me at #3. It seems crazy, but I have to be prepared for it. As I began this comparison, it seems obvious that Davis would be a steal at #3, but is Williams worth taking at #5?
Heading into the NFL draft, I had consistently placed Davis and Williams as the top two WR prospects. I liked what I saw from both, and what I read from most scouts seemed to agree that one or the other should be the first off the board. However, in the fantasy football world, there was a slight gap opening up in Davis’ favor. Several members of our community who largely favor analysis through measurables made convincing arguments not only in favor of Davis, but vehemently against Williams. Some even used the dreaded “B” word (Bust) to predict his likely lack of success in the NFL. This gap widened considerably after the NFL draft, with Davis’ ADP coming in at #1 at about a 70% rate and Williams dropping out of the top 10.
It was at that point I decided to go back and reevaluate what I had seen and read over the past months. I am going to look at full-game tape of both players again, and will do my best as a “wannabe” scout to detail what I’m seeing. I will also use some of the metric analysis that I’ve seen from other members in our community, but rather than recreating it I will simply credit the source. As a general rule, I don’t believe anyone should use one method or the other (tape or metrics) as the sole way to evaluate talent. Every little bit of information is part of the puzzle, and none of it should be ignored. For example; if the numbers say that a player isn’t explosive, but you see video of him out-leaping a defender who is known as having a high degree of explosiveness, you should ask yourself, “What’s going on here? Let me dig a little deeper.” Perhaps it was just a one-time, freak-play, or perhaps the numbers truly don’t capture what the player is capable of. Either way, you should do your due diligence to make sure you know.
A Tale of Woe:
As a general cautionary tale of solely using numbers to scout a player, I offer the case of Marvin McNutt. McNutt was a WR for Big 10 powerhouse Iowa who was entering the 2012 NFL draft after a stellar senior season. A 4-year player and 3-year starter, McNutt had everything you would look for in a WR1 prospect. At 6’3”, 216 lbs with 32” arms and 10” hands, McNutt checked the box as having “prototypical” size for a true outside WR. His Combine metrics were mixed but solid. He ran 4.54 in the 40-yard dash, which was decent straight-line speed for someone his size. While his 3-Cone of 7.15 indicated he wasn’t quick, his 20-Shuttle of 4.07 did. While his Broad jump of 122.0” indicated that he wasn’t explosive, his Vertical Jump of 37.0” indicated that he was. Enough to get your attention.
The production from his 2011 senior season met all the criteria to show that he was a dominating offense force on his team. His 82 receptions accounted for 34.2% of all completions. His 1315 yards accounted for 43.1% of all passing yards, and his 12 TDs accounted for 48.0% of all receiving TDs. His sophomore and junior campaigns were solid efforts showing steady improvement year-over-year, posting 34/674/8 and 53/861/8 lines respectively in a run-heavy offense. Just by looking at the numbers, it was difficult to think that McNutt wouldn’t succeed in the NFL. The only flags against him in his scouting report were that he needed to improve his route running ability, and that he was sometimes lax on plays in which he wasn’t the target, both evident in his tape, but also things could easily be improved with good coaching.
McNutt’s NFL career lasted just 3 seasons. Drafted in the 6th round, he bounced around with the Panthers, Dolphins, Eagles and Redskins. Unable to work through the “slight” issues with route running and blocking effort, he’s now out of the NFL. The moral of the story is to just keep in mind that there is no “perfect” formula for determining a player’s success.
Body Type & Measurables:
The term prototypical gets thrown a lot these days, and it might just be a bullshit term to make it sound like a player fits some utopian idea of what someone at that position should look like. Along these lines, we “know” that in order to be successful in the NFL an Outside WR should be at least 6’2”, 210 lbs. with 32” arms, 9 ½” hands and a 40-yard dash time of 4.5 seconds or better. Slot WRs get a break on the size requirements, but must exceed the speed & explosiveness requirements due to their positioning and route-tree bias of Drive, Dig & Slant routes. However, it doesn’t take long to spot successful players at both of these positions who don’t come close to fitting the “prototypical” size.
For example, Jarvis Landry of the Miami Dolphins certainly looked the part of a Slot “Z” WR, but turned in a horrible 4.77 40-yard dash, and a paltry 28.5” vertical jump. The numbers point to someone who wasn’t going to be able to get into & out of his breaks quickly or outrun today’s speedy outside LBs, who routinely clock 4.6 times in the 40-yard dash. However, his tape at LSU clearly showed someone who was seemingly always open and running extremely clean routes against some of the best defenders in the country. Conversely, Larry Fitzgerald, who at 6’3”, 218 lbs. was ideally suited as an Outside “X” WR. Factor in that Fitz has probably lost a step or two since hitting his early 30’s and there’s no way his lanky frame should’ve been able to adapt to playing the Slot “Z” WR position later in his career, but he’s done just that.
I could go on with examples, but the bottom line is that it’s nearly impossible to box an NFL player into a specific position just based on their body type. It’s also extremely important to recognize the fact that physical traits change. It’s a widely accepted notion that the human body doesn’t reach physical peak until sometime in the late 20’s. That means players will be getting stronger, faster, quicker and more explosive as their career progresses, especially with the health, nutrition and workout programs that NFL teams impose upon their players.
Let’s take a closer look at how these two players “fit” the WR mold.
9 1/4” Hand
33 3/8” Arm
9 3/8” Hand
Based on just these numbers, one might expect them to have similar physiques, with perhaps Williams being the bulkier of the two since he’s about 10lbs heavier. That couldn’t be further from the truth.
When watching game film, Davis doesn’t always jump out at you when set at the line of scrimmage, perhaps due to his more compact stance. Even though he’s listed as the lighter of the two, he carries more muscular bulk on his frame and has a “thick’ body type similar to that of Quincy Enunwa.
Williams, on the other hand, is the embodiment of the word “lanky”. He has long legs, long arms and a long body, and even though he stands only 1” taller than Davis, he can be spotted at the line of scrimmage without the need of a spot-shadow. He really reminded me of Plaxico Burress in the way that you would never guess his weight was around 230 because it was stretched out all over his long frame.
Either body-type is suitable for an NFL WR. Davis’ bulk might allow him to take a bit more physical pounding when making catches over the middle, while Williams might be more suited to true outside work against CBs rather than coming inside to face LBs, but we’ll see what the game film says later on.
Combine & Pro-Day Numbers:
The event that everyone was looking forward to was the annual NFL Scouting Combine so coaches and scouts could measure these two WRs up close & personal. Unfortunately, like a Floyd Mayweather fight, the hype built to a crescendo only to let everyone down because nothing took place. Oh, the Combine went on alright, but Davis couldn’t participate due to an ankle injury suffered weeks before, and Williams participated in only limited events. What’s worse is that Davis’ injury kept him from participating in his own pro-day and a once rumored open workout to be held just before the draft was also cancelled. To date, I haven’t seen any numbers for Davis, save for “estimates” floating around the internet. I at least thought he might participate in non-running events like the Bench Press, but no.
40-Yard: N/A (estimated mid-4.4 to 4.5)
Bench Press: N/A
Vertical Jump: N/A
Broad Jump: N/A
40-Yard: 4.51 – 4.53 (pro-day timed)
Bench Press: 15 reps
Vertical Jump: 32.5”
Broad Jump: 121.0”
There are some things to like about Williams’ performance, and there are some things that were just ok.
1. His 40 time wasn’t a disaster. Some were estimating that he might post a number in the 4.6 range, similar to what Laquon Treadwell did ahead of the 2015 draft (4.63). His low-end 4.5 speed matches him up with some of the other “lanky” WRs. Since NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein saw fit to comp Williams to Plaxico Burress, I should probably note that Plax’s 40-time was 4.59, so it’s right in line.
2. His Bench Press of 15 reps was above average for this group of WRs (12.8 avg. based on 47 participants) and tied with JuJu Smith-Schuster and Zay Jones for 6th best overall (23 reps led). There is video of his bench performance and I have to say, I really appreciated the way he dug in to bang out his last few reps when it looked like he was reaching the fail point.
3. His Vertical Jump of 32.5 was slightly below average (33.9 avg. based on 51 participants). It’s not terrible, but certainly not something that’s going to make you stand up and take notice. Once again he finds himself tied with JuJu Smith-Schuster. Using Zierlein’s comp of Plaxico (33.0”), we find that he’s still holding up to that measuring stick.
4. His Broad Jump of 121.0” was again slightly below average (122.3” avg. based on 52 participants). He was just ahead of JuJu Smith-Schuster (120.0”), and ahead of Zierlein’s comp, Plaxico Burress (115.0”).
If there’s a red-flag ding here, it’s that he chose not to do any of the short-area drills (3 Cone, 20-Shuttle or 60-Shuttle), so we’re missing information about how his feet operate in small spaces and what type of “quick-twitch” explosiveness he has.
Corey Davis: Davis had an otherwise spotless injury record until the months leading up to the NFL Combine when it was announced he was undergoing “minor” surgery on one of his ankles.
CBS Sports reported that the injury involved two torn ligaments in the ankle, which sounds a bit more than “minor”. He continues to rehab and it is not yet clear at what point he’ll be able to be a full participant of the Titans’ camp.
Mike Williams: Williams suffered a broken neck which caused him to miss the entire 2015 season.
While a broken neck is nothing to take lightly, in this case it seems like it may truly sound worse than it really was. By all accounts, there was no soft-tissue or nerve damage, such as was the case with Green Bay TE Jermichael Finley who suffered a bruised spinal cord. In Williams’ case, a blunt-force impact caused a small crack in the C6 vertebrae (the second to last of the cervical vertebrae, near his upper back) and the medical staff took precautions to shut him down for the season in order to let the bone heal.
Now, I must say that it’s Davis’ injury that concerns me more. I know a bone will heal with no lingering effects, but there’s probably no worse issue for a WR to have than a bad wheel, whether its turf toe, plantar fasciitis or an ankle. These injuries seem to take forever to heal and often linger for months if not years. Think of players like Hakeem Nicks or Marvin Jones.
Obviously, to be considered one of the top WRs in the draft, it’s important to have been very productive at the collegiate level. It’s an even better sign to see productions over multiple years and against good competition. The latter two show consistency and the ability to elevate one’s performance.
2013: 67 rec 941 yds. Avg. 14.0 yds. Long 75 yds. TD 6
2014: 78 rec 1408 yds. Avg. 18.1 yds. Long 75 yds. TD 15
2015: 90 rec 1429 yds. Avg. 16.0 yds. Long 80 yds. TD 12
2016: 97 rec 1500 yds. Avg. 15.5 yds. Long 70 yds. TD 19
This is exactly the type of production that you want to see from a WR1. The receptions and yards increase year-over-year. The average remains fairly consistent with solid TD production. As an added bonus, we can see that Davis was also able to break-off big gains for a TD every single year. Long receptions can come in a couple of different ways, either using superior speed to beat defenders to a deep spot to make the catch, or making a catch in the short/intermediate range and using yards after the catch (YAC) ability to take it further. It’s important to verify on film what type of WR he is, especially when we later consider the team fit for the Titans.
Also important in the film study will be to determine how Davis fared against higher competition levels. He played in the MAC, which is a “gang of five” conference, so he did not pit his abilities against players who were 4 or 5-star recruits on a weekly basis. Fortunately, he did have a handful of games against quality opponents over the span of his collegiate career, so we should get a decent sampling.
I like the fact that Davis did not experience a “hiccup” in his 2015 production even though the team had another feature WR in Daniel Braverman, who accounted for over 1300 yds and was drafted into the NFL by the Chicago Bears. This shows that the team’s game-plan included Davis rather than just riding the hot hand.
2013: 20 rec 316 yds. Avg. 15.8 yds. Long 30 yds. TD 3
2014: 57 rec 1030 yds. Avg. 18.1 yds. Long 56 yds. TD 6
2015: 2 rec 20 yds. Avg. 10.0 yds. Long 16 yds. TD 1
2016: 98 rec 1361 yds. Avg. 13.9 yds. Long 50 yds. TD 11
Obviously, Williams’ production is a bit choppier than Davis’. Although the numbers from his 2013 campaign look low, it’s important to remember that Clemson has become somewhat of a powerhouse WR factory in recent years, and that team featured Sammy Watkins and Martavis Bryant, respective 1st and 4th round selections in the 2014 draft, so the fact that Williams appeared in 10 games and was able to post a 20/316/3 line as a freshman is actually a good sign.
And then there’s the missing year of 2015. He was one of the highest rated prospects going into the year, and most likely would’ve declared for the NFL draft to capitalize on the lack of depth at the WR class. Unfortunately, we can only assume what 2015 would’ve been for Williams.
I know there are many in the FF community that like to use a production threshold of 30% of the team’s offense as an indicator of future success. I don’t discount that metric, but I also think that it can’t be viewed reliably in all situations (again, see the example of Marvin McNutt).
2013: 67/215 rec (31.2%), 941/2532 passing yds (37.2%), 6/12 rec TDs (50%)
2014: 78/252 rec (30.9%), 1408/3457 passing yds (40.7%), 15/26 rec TDs (57.6%)
2015: 90/272 rec (33.1%), 1429/3710 passing yds (38.5%), 12/30 rec TDs (40.0%)
2016: 97/263 rec (36.9%), 1500/3533 passing yds (42.5%), 19/33 rec TDs (57.6%)
2013: 20/341 rec (5.9%), 316/4330 passing yds (7.3%), 3/39 rec TDs (7.6%)
2014: 57/292 rec (19.5%), 1030/3404 passing yds (30.3%), 6/23 rec TDs (26.0%)
2016: 98/422 rec (23.2%), 1361/5009 passing yds (27.2%), 11/45 rec TDs (24.4%)
If I take a closer look at the 2016 season for both players, an interesting difference of how each player was used on their respective team begins to take shape.
In Davis’ situation, he was truly dominant over his teammates in the 2016 season:
1. 2 other players had 30+ receptions. Davis’ 97 were 53.9% more than Michael Henry’s 63.
2. 2 other players had 400+ receiving yards. Davis’ 1500 were 92.6% more than Michael Henry’s 779 yards.
3. 6 players total had a receiving TD. Davis’s 19 were 216% more than Carrington Thompson’s 6.
These numbers are pretty much echoed throughout each of Davis’ seasons, so he had the luxury of being one of, if not the only offensive weapon the team had. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but it’s important to take a closer look to see how he was able to do it and if his dominance was consistent against a higher level of competition.
Now let’s take a look at Williams’ numbers pitted against those of his teammates. It’s important to note that Clemson was one of only three FBS teams to pass for over 5000 yds. For reference, in 2016 there was only one NFL team to reach that milestone (New Orleans), and they had 1 extra game in which to do so.
It’s also important to note that Clemson posted 45 receiving TDs. One of only 8 teams to do so in 2016, and 4th most among all FBS schools.
These numbers say quite a bit in terms of how much Clemson threw the ball.
1. 4 other players had 30+ receptions. Williams’ 98 were 28.9% over Artavis Scott’s 76.
2. 5 other players had 400+ receiving yards. Williams’ 1361 were 84.9% more than Jordan Leggett’s 736.
3. 10 players total had a receiving TD, with 5 targets having at least 5. Williams’ 11 were 22.2% more than Deon Cain’s 9.
Just like the FF world hates the fact that Bill Belichick seemingly flips a coin to determine his starting RB from week-to-week in order to keep the opposition from being able to accurately game-plan against the Patriots and therefore give his team an edge towards winning, we have to remember that college teams are going to do what it takes to win, and it doesn’t always involve making a top prospect a bigger part of the offense than he needs to be. Certainly, there’s are still coaches believing that you just line up and if Player A is dominant, then he will outperform whatever the defense throws at him. But there are college coaches who will lean a little closer towards the Bill Belichick school that you should be able to count on a multitude of players in any given situation. We may just have these two different philosophies at work here.
It’s a little clearer now that Williams did not have quite the opportunity to dominate his team’s offensive production simply because there was too much talent on the field and the staff game-planned to use as much of it as possible. That’s not taking away from Davis’ use, which was very impressive, but on the same token, I don’t want to just dismiss Williams simply because he was the leader of a very talented group.
While not the most important trait, it should be noted when a player comes out of a system that has an established record of developing talent at a specific position. We can think about Miami in the 1980’s as the established Quarterback U producing the likes of Kosar, Kelly and Testaverde (hey, a million years in the NFL gets you some recognition), Nebraska creating the “300 lb offensive lineman”, and more recently LSU as “DBU”.
Along those lines, I don’t think I can dismiss the fact that Williams is coming out of Clemson, which has seemingly turned into a WR pipeline to the NFL, and they’ve been fairly successful. Not every one of them has turned into a team’s WR1, but many have cut out a starting role or have hung on rosters for multiple years. Everyone should be familiar with the big three of DeAndre Hopkins, Martavis Bryant and Sammy Watkins, but the names of Charone Peake, Jaron Brown and Adam Humphries should also be noted. Someone on that staff knows how to scout and develop WR talent for the NFL level, and it should be factored in somehow.
Western Michigan simply doesn’t have the track record that Clemson does when it comes to producing NFL caliber WRs, with Daniel Braverman being the only other product from that school currently in the NFL. That’s not to say that anyone coming from that system doesn’t have the talent or ability to become just that, there just doesn’t appear to be an added bonus for being coached there.
As stated earlier, I’m not going to recreate any of the metrics that have been floating around the community, but will cite the source so you can go check them out for yourself. Fortunately, @ScottBarrettDFB created a very handy chart which detailed most of the important categories for rookie WRs including:
• Total Targets
• Yards per Route Run
• Drop Rate
• Yards After the Catch per Reception
• WR Rating
• Missed Tackles Forced per Reception
Shameless plug time: If you like stats even just a little bit, please follow Scott on Twitter. As I’ve said before, the numbers are part of the puzzle, and he provides some very useful information.
Total Targets: 136
Yards per Route Run: 3.56
Drop Rate: 10.09%
YAC per Reception: 7.2
WR Rating: 141.9
Missed Tackles Forced per Reception: 16.3%
Total Targets: 141
Yards Per Route Run; 3.34
Drop Rate: 5.77
YAC per Reception: 4.0
WR Rating: 111.3
Missed Tackles Forced per Reception: 22.4%
Some of these numbers begin to paint a different picture of the two WRs. We can see that the Total Targets are very close (136 v. 141), so it gives us a fairly even base from which to judge the other numbers.
If there’s a red flag on Davis here, it’s the high drop rate (10.09%). It’s a little less than twice the rate for Williams (5.77%). At this point, I really want to see the game film to see on what types of routes these drops occurred. For example, does he develop “alligator arms” if running shallow digs against traffic, or are they deep throws that he has difficulty tracking? If there’s a trend there, I want to try and spot it on film. I’m fond of saying that you can teach routes, but you can’t teach hands, so if the hands are truly a problem it may take a while to get sorted out.
If there’s a red flag on Williams, it’s the YAC per Reception of 4.0. That’s one of the lowest averages on the chart, and whereas Davis’ 7.2 points to a more dynamic WR with the ball in his hands, Williams’ numbers point more towards a possession-type WR, even though we know that he’s had long receptions of 50+ yards.
The WR Rating, which I understand to be a reverse-engineered way of seeing the QB Rating when applied to an individual WR, shows that while Williams was very productive for his QB, Davis was on another level by providing a rating of 141.9. Offsetting the drops are a lot of long-run TDs, making his receptions very efficient.
The Missed Tackles Forced is very interesting. We can see that Williams was more effective, and in fact had one of the higher rates as one of only 5 of the 17 listed WRs with rates above 20%. However, one might expect a player who forces more missed tackles to have a higher YAC, and we know that Williams actually had a lower YAC with 4.0. I’m thinking this could be due to one of two factors. Either Davis’ lower MT rate was a factor of his ability to catch on the move and use clear lanes to advance the ball, or Williams’ high number was due to him using his strength to break tackles, even though he advanced the ball shorter distances on average. Another reason why the film will play an important part in this comparison.
Finally, it’s time to see if the on-field play supports or refutes what the numbers are saying about these two players. As indicated earlier, I want to break out Davis’ games against higher competition to see if there are any differences when he plays.
As I’ve mentioned in other articles, when reviewing a player’s film, it’s important that you not rely on “hi-light” videos as these are often condensed to show only the positive plays and usually show action from odd angles. You really want to view as many plays as possible, which usually means tracking down full-game footage. Some schools will provide All-22 film if requested, especially if you indicate that you’re developing a scouting profile. The worst they can say is “no”, so it doesn’t hurt to ask. Otherwise, there are a few helpful individuals on YouTube who are kind enough to upload condensed full-game footage to showcase every snap for which the subject player was on the field, often with helpful spot-shadowing. If you’re not yet familiar with what’s available, I recommend that you check out and/or subscribe to the channels of NittanyEagles, Alex Williamson, CollegeFBDude, CFB Film Room, Matheus Milanez and Emanuele Addondi among others for your full-game film needs.
I should point out that it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the basic Route Tree when reviewing film for WRs or TEs. It can help you determine what type of offense the player operates in, their experience level (and what they might have to learn at the next level) and where they excel. It can also help to understand defensive concepts in order to better recognize if players work just as well against Man coverage as they do against Zone.
Corey Davis vs. Conference
Eastern Michigan – 2016 (8/87/1): Plays Reviewed 61
Buffalo – 2016 (13/173/2): Plays Reviewed: 28
• Lines up at a variety of positions: Split R/L, Slot R/L, Flanker R/L
• Very clean routes at all depths.
• Faced a variety of press-man, off-man and zone coverage.
• Uses footwork (jab-steps and stutter-steps) to set up misdirection on routes, especially when facing press-man coverage.
• Uses strength to break tackles (9 misses forced in two games).
• Has strength to break out of holds.
• Has deep route tree (Hitch, Dig, Out, Comeback, Slant, Screen, Post and Fade).
• Uses double-moves to create separation.
• Seems to lack speed to break away from man defender on deep Fade route, which led to contested balls.
• Willing blocker on run & screen plays. Sometimes delays getting into his blocks downfield. Has occasional missed block, but also advances to pick up extra blocks.
• Is comfortable being heavily targeted.
• Suffers from some uncontested drops (3 drops vs. Buffalo on 16 targets).
Corey Davis vs. Non-Conference
Purdue – 2014 (4/46/1): Plays Reviewed 11
Wisconsin – 2017 (6/73/1): Plays Reviewed 30
• Ran mostly short & intermediate routes.
• Showed ability to beat press with footwork and hand-checks.
• Did not create great separation on deeper routes vs. Man coverage.
• Recognized when to “sit” vs. Zone coverage.
• Does not give up on “broken” plays and works back to the ball (TD vs. Wisc).
• Suffers from uncontested drops (3 drops vs. Purdue on 11 targets, 1 drop vs. Wisc).
• Davis comes across as a very polished route runner, even going back to some of his earlier years.
• Has the footwork and hand movement to create misdirection and space to beat press coverage.
• His strength is an asset both before and after the catch as it allows him not only break tackles for YAC, but also to get free from holds.
• Drops continue to be a concern.
• Has deep knowledge of the route tree and can read defenses, which should allow him to partake in a large part of the playbook at the next level.
• Has the ability to be a successful blocker on both running and passing plays.
• Should be comfortable being in a “go to” role early on.
North Carolina – 2014 (6/122/2): Plays Reviewed 17
Florida St – 2016 (7/70/0): Plays Reviewed 33
Alabama – 2016 (8/94/1): Plays Reviewed 18
• Lines up almost exclusively as “X” Split L/R.
• Faced primarily Press-Man coverage.
• Mainly uses strength to work through press, but can step around with long first-step.
• Long strides quickly eat up cushion when facing Off coverage.
• Deep route tree (Hitch, Dig, Out, Fade, Slant, Screen, Post, Corner).
• Could improve footwork to make routes more effective.
• Lacks break-away speed on deep routes, which allows for contested balls.
• Can adjust to poorly thrown balls.
• Plays to his size & strength to high-point the ball and shield CBs.
• Able to absorb clean hits and still secure the ball.
• Willing to block on run & screen plays, but does not move to 2nd block.
• Uses strength to break tackles (6 misses forced in 3 games).
NFL Team Fit/Situation:
The match with the Titans could be perfect for Davis. They have a razor-thin WR corps, and they seem to utilize a lot of crossing routes such as Digs & Slants, which Davis is best suited for. His size and blocking ability should keep him on the field for run plays as well.
The drops should not keep Davis off the field, although they could keep him from reaching his full potential as an elite WR if he’s not able to lower the rate. The ankle injury is worth monitoring, especially if it causes any lengthy delay to participating in the mandatory training camps later this summer.
The high selection by the Chargers was a bit odd at first glance, considering they have a deep stable of WRs. However, when we dig deeper into that group we see that Tyrell Williams and Dontrelle Inman are only under contract thru the end of 2017, and Antonio Gates will most likely be retiring as well. Inman has already been sidelined by an injury to his abdominal wall that required surgery, and Keenan Allen is returning from a repaired ACL, so the group may provide opportunity before next year simply by attrition.
Although Williams lacks explosive, deep speed, he is very much in the same mold of two past favorite targets of Philip Rivers, Malcom Floyd and Vincent Jackson. If Rivers is so inclined to throw “jump” balls the way he did to Floyd & Jackson on a regular basis, I believe Williams has every opportunity to win the majority of those 50/50 contests and become a very reliable intermediate and red-zone target. Consider that Floyd averaged 74 targets/year from 2009-2011 while Jackson averaged 111 during the same time (not counting his injury year of 2010) and the case could be made that Williams may eventually see target volume in this range.
I think it’s clear that Corey Davis has more going for him in terms of his playing style and NFL situation. His past performance, although not a guarantee of things to come, shows that he has had sustained success against a variety of opponents when used properly. There should be little doubt that Davis presents himself as the clear top choice for Rookie WR prospect in this year’s FF drafts, with a strong nod for 1.01 consideration in Rookie-only drafts.
On the same token, I believe Williams has decent fantasy value. It’s true that he won’t (and shouldn’t) be taken before Davis, but it appears the “Bust” label that is being applied to him may be unfair. He too has been proven successful for most of his college career, against some of the toughest opponents, and that should translate to the next level to some degree. His skill set isn’t sexy. You’re not getting OBJ when you draft Williams, but he could be someone who sees consistent targets, especially in the red-zone, over the next 2-3 years. For my purposes, I have to at least consider him as someone who should be able to produce at an above average level if given the opportunity. However, I would feel more comfortable taking him with a slightly lower pick, somewhere in the 1.08 to 1.11 range seems more appropriate given his skill-set and the likelihood that he’ll wait 1 year before seeing a decent amount of targets. I would not approach drafting Williams as a “plug n’ play” player who is ready to give your roster an immediate 200 – 250 point boost. I think his rookie ceiling is probably around 40/500/6, which would equate to around 140 points in PPR format. I would then be prepared to see that ceiling increase during his 2nd year to the 200 – 225+ point range as he benefits from seeing the targets that were vacated by Inman, Gates and possibly Tyrell Williams.