NFL Draft

2017 NFL Draft Player Profiles: Western Michigan WR Corey Davis

From now until the 2017 NFL Draft takes place, we hope to examine as many prospects as possible and showcase both their strengths and weaknesses. Most of these profiles will feature individuals that the Pittsburgh Steelers are likely to have an interest in, while a few others will be top-ranked players. If there is a player you would like us to analyze, let us know in the comments below.

Corey Davis/WR/Western Michigan — 6’3”, 213 Lbs

The Good:

-Great second gear to pull away from defenders
-Plays through contact well and knows how to use his body to shield ball away from defenders
-Sound route runner that relies on strong footwork and above-average lower body coordination
-Able to sink hip and get in/out of breaks quickly
-Impressive home run threat after the catch
-Very balanced and shifty in the open field as a runner
-Not afraid to go over the middle to make big catches despite hit coming
-Good effort as a blocker when engaged

The Bad:

-Reluctant to mix it up as a blocker at times; effort varies from situation to situation
-Gets pressed to sideline too easily on go routes
-Prone to mental lapses as a receiver; number of dropped passes in college
-Doesn’t use his hands well to beat press; relies on lower body explosion
-Can get lazy/lose focus and round off routes
-Needs to improve consistency when it comes to fighting for the ball in the air
-Didn’t face a ton of NFL-caliber secondary talent while at Western Michigan

Bio:

-FBS career leader in receiving yards
-Holds WMU career record for receiving yards
-Finished Bronco career with 331 career receptions for 5,278 yards and 52 touchdowns
-Inexplicably looked over as 2016 Biletnikoff finalist despite putting up 97/1500/19 during senior season)
-Younger brother of retired NFL receiver, Titus Davis
-Named MAC Freshman of the Year in 2013 and First Team All-MAC in ’14, ’15 and ‘16

Tape Breakdown:

Widely regarded as one of the top two receivers in the country heading into the 2017 NFL Draft, Western Michigan’s Corey Davis certainly has the tape and the career resume to back up that argument across all platforms.

As the career leader in receiving yards in FBS history, Davis is the whole package at receiver with the ideal size and length, as well as the speed, power and elusiveness in the open field.

Despite being the clear No. 1 target at Western Michigan for the last three seasons, leading to him facing plenty of heavy coverage throughout his time as a Bronco, all Davis did was produce time and time again, playing a big part in the Broncos winning the 2016 MAC championship to set up a showdown with the Wisconsin Badgers in the Cotton Bowl.

Standing 6-feet-3 and weight about 213 pounds, Davis has the ideal frame of a true No. 1 receiver in the NFL. On top of his frame, Davis packs some serious power despite not looking overly strong standing in pads. He’s deceptively strong and when he uses that strength on a defensive back it’s very noticeable.

Most receivers simply give up in that situation and are pleased just to be able to draw the penalty in the red zone, but not Davis. He’s so strong that he’s able to fight through a hold by the Buffalo defensive back, allowing him to break out into the open where his quarterback is able to loft him the ball for the score.

Davis pretty much just shrugged the defender off in that clip above, but it’s important to remember that that’s not high-end talent he’s going against.

It’s impressive nonetheless.

While packing some serious power in his frame, Davis is also a track star on the football field as he has the afterburners to just run away from defenses with ease. It looks so effortless with him, and he’s able to do that while still maintaining his elusiveness in the open field.

This sort of play on curl routes and slants has become a staple of Davis’s game. Once he catches the ball with room to maneuver, he’s constantly looking to spin back towards the sideline to get into a footrace.

Just look at the way he’s able to shake the corner, stiff-arm the safety and then fly into the open field for the touchdown.

He just destroys pursuit angles.

Davis also uses his speed to his advantage on cross routes, allowing him to leave corners grasping for air after he makes the catch. Plus, he has a great feel for finding the open field even if, say, three defenders are closing in.

That touchdown above just so happened to be Davis’ third touchdown of the night against Ball State as he simply dominated play after play against the Cardinals.

Despite putting up some eye popping numbers and making some incredible plays, Davis is just like every other young receiver when it comes to mental lapses and the occasional plays off.

Watching 13 games spanning three seasons for Davis, I saw the stud receiver drop two wide open deep balls that just clanged off his usually-trusty hands, and I saw others hit him in the chest and fall harmlessly to the turf when he had room for days in the open field.

Other times, I saw the Western Michigan star takes plays off as a blocker on receiver screens for teammates and I also saw him get lazy at times on routes, but I won’t every question his intent or desire to produce at a high level.

With players of Davis’s caliber, you have to live with some of the frustrations on the field because his work ethic in the weight room and in the film room is superb.

Former Western Michigan Head Coach PJ Fleck raved about his ability to study opponents’ tendencies and defensive schemes as hard as the rest of the WMU coaching staff.

That should erase concerns for teams that are worried he could quit football early like his older brother Titus did two years into his NFL career.

While I did mention in the “bad” section about Davis as a blocker that he’s reluctant at times to stick his nose in there as a blocker, when he’s engaged as a blocker he’s able to simply bury defenders due to his strength and explosiveness.

Just look at the way he’s able to lock up this Toledo defensive back and bury him out of bounds after driving him almost 10 yards. That’s something that should have NFL scouts drooling.

Sure, his technique needs to be improved in that department, but if they can get that effort every single time from Davis and add it to his game-breaking ability as a pass catcher then whomever snags Davis in the first round is getting a potential franchise-changing receiver.

On top of blocking, if Davis can figure out how to consistently fight for the ball in the air and high point the ball over defenders that should have no shot at out-jumping him … look out.

Overall, there’s really not much to be disappointed in with Davis on film. He’s got everything you want in a receiver without a defining trait in today’s game and he’s comfortable lining up anywhere on the field.

I see a lot of Michael Thomas of the New Orleans Saints in Corey Davis. Considering Thomas was a guy I was really high on last season, I think it’s safe to say I’m really high on Davis as well.

Projection:  Early-to-Mid Day One

Games Watched:  vs. Eastern Michigan (’14), vs. Michigan State (’15), vs. Bowling Green (’15), vs. Middle Tennessee State (’15), vs. Georgia Southern (’16), at Akron (’16), vs. Eastern Michigan (’16), at Central Michigan (’16), at Ball State (’16), vs. Buffalo (’16), vs. Toledo (’16), vs. Ohio (’16), vs. Wisconsin (’16)

Previous 2017 NFL Draft Player Profiles
Deshaun Watson Haason Reddick Marshon Lattimore Corey Clement Tim Williams
Jourdan Lewis Takkarist McKinley Brad Kaaya Nathan Peterman O.J. Howard
Charles Harris Alvin Kamara Tyus Bowser David Njoku DeMarcus Walker
Chidobe Awuzie DeShone Kizer Marlon Mack Cameron Sutton Zach Cunningham
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