Rookie Spotlight: Davante Adams

Jeff Haverlack

Davante Adams, WR Fresno St.
6’1”/212 Lbs.- 40: 4.56
Hands: 9”

First Impressions

adamsI’ve been a broken record thus far with my rookie analysis, at least as it relates to the lay of this year’s draft class starting at selection 1.03.  While I will eventually turn my focus to the running backs, I’ve set upon highlighting the potential fantasy first round receivers with the hope of demystifying the position should you be selecting at 1.03 through 1.10.  There’s going to be a world of opportunity if you have the guts and the research to shy away from a ‘sexy’ choice and replace it with an informed selection instead.  I recently reviewed Kelvin Benjamin and Adams is next on my list.  He’ll be an intriguing selection in that he’ll likely be available at the bottom of your first round, perhaps into the second round depending on his drafted situation.

[am4show  have=’p2;p3;p4;p5;p6;’  guest_error=’sub_message’  user_error=’sub_message’ ]

Lets first take a look at his measured traits.

At 6’1″ and 212 pounds, Adams has the size I look for at the position, if perhaps an inch or so shorter.  Once a receiver eclipses the 6’0″ range, I immediately start looking for ‘larger’ play and characteristics to boost his fantasy potential.  [am4show have=’p2;p3;p4;p5;p6;’ guest_error=’sub_message’ user_error=’sub_message’ ] Larger receivers just have a greater ability to be elite, but plenty of smaller receivers can be difference makers.  But Adams doesn’t catch my notice due to his size. As will be discussed a bit later in this article, Adams is an accomplished leaper.  At the Combine, he secured a nearly 40″ vertical jump.  Somewhat disappointing is his surprisingly small hand size, measuring in at 9″.  It’s far more important how he uses these hands than the measurement alone but there can be inherent limitations due to size.  I was modestly disappointed with his timed forty at 4.56 and thought he had a chance to break 4.50 based on what I’ve seen on tape.  That said, playing fast does eclipse timed speed, but I still give bonus points if a receiver can show both.

Turning my attention to his college productivity, it’s impossible not to be impressed.  How does a collegiate receiver improve on the 102 reception, 1,312 yard and 14 touchdown campaign Adams had in 2012? Well, his 131 receptions, 1,719 yards and 24 touchdowns in 2013 make that 2012 production look anemic.  Combined in his final two years at Fresno State, he compiled 233 receptions, 3,031 yards and 38 touchdowns.  Impressive beyond impressive. Competition was not noteworthy in the Mountain West and this must be taken into account.

Tape Review

Looking at game tape can be a mixed bag.  I’ve watched most all tape on Adams I could find, some multiple times.  The positives stick out as much as some of the negatives.  He’s a fine leaper able to consistently high-point the ball effortlessly. He’s strong enough and uses good leverage to shield the defender to put himself in a catch-advantage position. Despite his small hands, he’s largely a sure-handed receiver, dropping or double-catching few passes.  He’s quicker than he is fast which began adding up the more tape I watched.  He’s got a quick lateral step but more of a loping sprint that likely will limit his top-end speed.  In receiving the ball, Adams exhibits beautiful hand position and a natural hand-catching motion.  He snatches the ball as well as any receiver I’ve seen and, like his high-point ability, he does so effortlessly.  His ability to snatch and tuck in one single motion allows him to get his shoulders up field, survey available space, prepare for contact and churn out yards after the catch.  He’s not mechanical in any way.

On the negative side, Adams is extremely raw in his route running and his route tree.  In researching his routes, bubble screens came up time and again.  Sure enough, the bubble screen and short come-back routes are his forte’. He would seem to have more slant ability than he displayed but the shallow and deeper slants I did see run were enough for me to ‘check the box’ in this area of his tree.  He’ll likely be limited to a possession style role, but he has a natural feel for coverages and space enough to use angles to slip beyond the secondary on deeper patterns.  I’m not ready to suggest he’ll only be a possession receiver.  He’s young and has a good level of football IQ.  Continuing on with negatives, his strength at the line of scrimmage is suspect and until he learns how to use his lateral agility to break jams, he’ll be best used in an “off” position as a flanker, or potentially in the slot.

Character and leadership wise, I like what I’ve seen and heard from Adams.  He’s not a me-first player and always mentions his teammates when given an opportunity.  He speaks well and obviously and commands attention.  There’s a lot to like in all areas of Davante Adams.

When looking at the first round opportunities, this draft has something for most, unless you have a great need at the running back position.  I see little chance that a receiver like Adams, or the previously reviewed Kelvin Benjamin, will overtake other higher-profile players such as Brandin Cooks, Marqise Lee or even Odell Beckham.  The hype on this third tier of receivers is just too defined and set currently.  Given that someone in your league will step up to take at least one running back due to drafted situation, it’s highly likely that we’re talking about players that will be available starting at 1.07.

Make no mistake in that I feel Adams and Benjamin are in the mix for a higher selection, but both still trail the aforementioned names but enough of a level that I would not consider either before selection 1.06 and likely lower if I have need at tight end or quarterback.


For Davante Adams, he checks the box in enough categories that I feel he has a strong potential outplay his drafted position.  Should his 40 time have been 1/10th of a second faster, he’d challenge Beckham on my list for a selection just beyond the middle of the first round.  When speed at the receiver position is in-line, but quicker than 4.60, grading down for this alone is often a mistake.  Time speed for Adams is still quick enough to make for an intriguing package.

In wrapping up my thoughts, “intriguing” is the term I fall back to when reviewing tape on Davante Adams.  From character, to size, to game tape he’s got enough boxes checked to provide great NFL upside.  If you’re able to secure him at the top of the second round, it’s a gift.  Even in the back half of the first round, there’s enough present to warrant serious consideration.  A good drafted situation with a notable quarterback should raise his value.  He’s a candidate to rise on my board when I conclude my receiver film study.


jeff haverlack