With all the speculation, excitement and hype around this year’s group of running backs, which player is truly deserving of the first overall pick in your dynasty rookie drafts? Dalvin Cook has fallen in the last few months and is almost out of consideration with the 1.01. Leonard Fournette is a likely candidate, but many Twitter scouts question his ability to stay on the field for all three downs and wonder if he’s simply an athletic freak. Christian McCaffrey is a hot pick for his outstanding PPR potential, but on the contrary to Fournette; can he be an early-down pounder? Even Joe Mixon is a the top of the list for some owners who are focusing purely on “talent.”
However, in the year of the running back, could it be a wide receiver who is the most deserving of the number one pick? A wideout who has dominant in college, has no off-field issues and is one of the most polished all-around playmakers we’ve seen in recent years?
Corey Davis was a college stud and has the potential to be a future NFL superstar. Let’s examine why that’s the case, and why he’s currently at the top of our rookie rankings at DLF.
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Statistics from Sports-Reference.com.
The stats are mind-blowing. Davis’ 5,278 yards are the most by any receiver in the history of NCAA Division I FBS football, and amazingly he increased his receptions and yards in every single season. If these numbers are what he can achieve in 11, 12, 13 and 14 games per season, imagine what he can do with 16 in the NFL.
Simply put, 331 catches and 52 touchdowns is quite the haul, and gives us a massive sample size to look at. Compare this to John Ross (another receiver likely to be drafted in the first round of the NFL Draft) and you might wonder why they are in the same ballpark. Ross only had 114 catches, 1,727 yards and 22 touchdowns in all three seasons he played for Washington, but it’s rumored Davis is the player falling on draft boards. Why? The two main reasons are 1: level of competition and 2: an injury which prevented him from participating in tests at the NFL Combine and his Pro Day.
I understand the hesitation to invest such a high pick in someone who’s played in a small school and hasn’t faced the top level of competition, but does that mean he can’t do it against the best? Definitely not. In fact, if you put an NFL receiver up against the MAC competition Davis faced, you’d expect him to dominate in exactly the way Davis did. It simply shouldn’t be an issue in this case – he couldn’t have done better than literally dominating more than any other receiver in his conference ever has. But the NFL combine was a chance to prove he matched up athletically and physically with his future peers, and he wasn’t healthy.
We know NFL teams focus heavily on 40 yard dash times, and the MMQB’s Emily Kaplan explained why the lack of any information at all is making Davis such a draft mystery. As first round picks are where coaches and GMs “can’t miss,” it might unsettle teams to pay the price for someone they haven’t seen “prove” their athleticism. A quote from an NFL evaluator in Kaplan’s piece sums it up pretty well:
“I still think Corey Davis is a first-round pick. But I’d be a lot more sure about it there weren’t holes to fill in.”
Some teams do need to see it, and it’d be no surprise if it affected many team’s view on him. Right now, it doesn’t seem to have affected dynasty owners, as he is still a top two player in our rookie ADP data (behind Fournette). Rotoworld’s Evan Silva has him at the top of his rookie rankings, and it’s clear from the various profiles in our rookie draft guide that he’s held in high regard by most outlets.
Let’s take a leaf out of the NFL’s book, and try to make sense of his incomplete Player Profiler page.
If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?
If you don’t post a picture of your workout on Instagram, did you really do a workout?
If Corey Davis doesn’t run a timed 40 yard dash, can he still cover 40 yards with tremendous speed?
While it would be great to have the full information on Davis and his athletic ability, the timing simply wasn’t right. What we do know is that his Dominator Rating (96th percentile) and Breakout Age (95th percentile) are outstanding, so he was an integral part of his college offense and performed at a high level from a young age.
We couldn’t test him as an athlete, but how do his body measurements look on his Mock Draftable chart?
Again, there’s not much to see except that he’s tall and has long arms. I tend to put weight into weight for receivers, and Davis is in the top third with room to grow. His hands may be a little smaller, but he’s a great catcher of the ball and displays that in a variety of ways on film.
Without the metrics, it’s clear Davis supporters are relying on his production, and more importantly what we’ve seen from him on the field for their reasons to believe in him. So what is it that makes him special?
In his 20/20 profile of Davis back in February, Joseph Nammour explained what makes him stand out on the field, and I echo the same sentiments. For me, it begins with his body control and feel for the game. It’s one thing to be fast, twitchy and explosive. It’s another to be able to use it in the right way, and know when to use certain movements and mannerisms to beat your opponent. Davis is a master route-runner, and it comes from how he uses his speed.
As a pass-catcher, he attacks the ball. On out routes, comebacks and curls he drives to the ball instead of waiting or hesitating. Unlike a lot of rookies, he’ll earn the trust of his quarterback early with his strength in this regard. Similarly, when the ball is in the air he “goes up and gets it,” possessing a great leaping ability and the muscle to pull the rock away from swatting defenders.
When the ball is in his hands, he’s electrifying. Countless times in videos from his Draft Breakdown page, he’ll make defenders miss by spinning, side-stepping or juking them out of their cleats. Again, he may not achieve the same level of success against faster, stronger and simply better tacklers at the next level, but we certainly can’t say it’s a weakness. The drive to fight for more yards is something he’ll take to the NFL, and not shying away from contact is a great way to get on the field more often and impress coaches.
Davis is going to be a star and I’d gladly spend the 1.01 rookie pick on him. If he falls out of the first round and other players land in perfect spots, there may be better options, but you can be happy acquiring his talent with any pick in your drafts.
I’ll leave you with some jaw-dropping highlights.
- 2022 Rookie Class: An Early Look at Kenny Pickett, QB Pittsburgh - January 31, 2022
- Dynasty Fantasy Football Rookie Update: Quez Watkins, WR PHI - July 15, 2020
- Dynasty Fantasy Football Rookie Update: John Hightower, WR PHI - July 7, 2020
As a guy with the 1.02 in my league that drafts next weekend following the draft, and has a huge need at RB, I’ve been struggling a lot with who I will pick.
I love Corey Davis’s game, but I wonder if h and Cook switched scenarios, Davis had tested surprisingly poor at the combine compared to his tape and Cook had been unable to go, would Cook have fallen out of favor at the top like he has?
I may simply take whichever between Fournette and Davis. I don’t think I can really go wrong.
you save the best for last. Corey Davis all day. 1.01. Take him and don’t look back!
I just hope he lands in Tennessee to be Mariota’s new #1
Look at slick lol nice call
I am sitting at the 1.03, and I am praying that Davis falls to me. I think it will be Fournette and Davis at 1.01 & 1.02, and I will have a hard decision to make between McCaffrey, Mixon, Williams, and Cook at 1.03…. :/ Not sure what direction to go in.