Making a Case for Corey Davis at #8

I have to admit that I’m pretty late getting on the Corey Davis hype train, but I have been watching some of his tape lately and thinking about what taking a WR this high means not only for the rest of this draft but for the Panthers going forward. Corey Davis, for those who don't know, is a 6'3" 212 lbs. WR from Western Michigan who accrued 97 rec for 1500 yds. and 19 TDs in his senior season and totaled 331 rec for 5278 yds. and 52 TDs over his collegiate career. Some of the biggest pros Davis brings to the table are his game changing/homerun ability, above average size and speed, very solid hands, willingness to block in the run game, scheme versatility, his high level of physicality, and his top tier route running. 

Receiving & Rushing Table
ReceReceReceRece RushRushRushRush ScriScriScriScri
Year School Conf Pos G Rec Yds Avg TD Att Yds Avg TD Plays Yds Avg TD
2013Western MichiganMACWR116794114.06122.006894313.96
*2014Western MichiganMACWR1278140818.11500078140818.115
*2015Western MichiganMACWR1389142916.11211111.0090144016.012
2016Western MichiganMACWR1497150015.519100.0098150015.319
CareerWestern Michigan331527815.9523134.30334529115.852
Provided by CFB at Sports Reference: View Original Table
Generated 4/11/2017.

What’s the catch then? His collegiate career was against lesser competition in the MAC conference at Western Michigan and he didn’t participate in the combine, Senior Bowl, and Pro Day workouts because of a nagging ankle injury he had repaired with minor surgery this offseason. The Panthers have also invested higher picks at WR in recent years. All of these factors depreciate Davis’s stock, making him somewhat of a reach at #8 overall. 

In the past, Dave Gettleman has mentioned two major philosophies when it comes to drafting smaller school guys. First, Gettleman contends, they must look like "a man among boys" on the field. The way Corey Davis ran away from, jumped over, and knocked down defenders, I think most would agree that he definitely looked a level above his competition. Gettleman also looks at how smaller school players match up vs larger school players from the area in hopes of finding some clues of just how much the competition dictated a player’s success. Would he still produce at a high level had he played for a bigger school? How will the leap, which is already substantial when a player from the highest college ranks moves to the pros, affect a player’s success in the Pros? I think Michigan and Michigan St. would have killed to have a weapon like Corey Davis to throw the ball to. 

Looking long term, Gettleman also talks about avoiding "position catastrophes" and I look at Davis as very high-quality insurance with Kelvin Benjamin and Devin Funchess playing in contract years. If Benjamin just can’t physically or psychologically return to form and Funch can’t take that next step in his development, Davis makes sure Carolina’s isn’t scrambling or reaching for WRs next year. If they do bounce back, he would remain top target despite where he lines up, even if that is just in the slot. 

The final aspect I would like to address is Davis’s impact on the rest Carolina’s draft if he were selected 8th overall. Now at #8, guys like Solomon Thomas and Jamal Adams also have great value and are game changers, but with safety, corner, and defensive end all deep with talent, taking a WR would give Cam a top tier weapon but also allow Carolina to fully exploit the depth this would create by adding to Benjamin and Funchess rather than relying on them alone. To put this into perspective, I look at the talent gap between Jamal Adams, a sure starter with a very good chance to be a star player, and a Budda Baker at 40 who is a starting quality SS with the instincts to be special. How big is that gap if Carolina at other positions if Carolina went with Corey Davis? When you contrast Davis, who is at worst a top end #2 WR with the potential to be a game-changing #1 WR, with Cooper Kupp at 40 , whose great route running and hands allow him to be a solid slot option but his lack of speed could limit him to the #2 WR role at best, there ceiling seems much lower than Baker’s at safety.

Whoever Carolina takes at 8 will be an instant impact player who we hope will help this team for a long time, even if it isn’t Davis. I, however, think he would give us a special talent on the field, stability for the future, and could set up the rest of our class to be special. Thanks for the read and Keep Pounding #C3

By Peekaboo Jones64