Will injuries drop draft stock of former Wheaton Warrenville South WR?
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It's a good thing former Wheaton-Warrenville South wide receiver Corey Davis produced four years' worth of quality film at Western Michigan because injuries have prevented him from auditioning in the run-up to the draft.
Davis rewarded Western Michigan coach P.J. Fleck, who was the only major-college coach to offer him a scholarship, by accumulating an FBS record of 5,278 career receiving yards on 332 catches and scoring 52 touchdowns.
Despite an impressive career in the perennial powerhouse WWS program Davis had been virtually ignored by FBS schools, although that was partly because of his horrible grades in his first three years.
That changed after the parents of youth football teammate Dan Graham became Davis' legal guardians. Prior to that Davis had lived a hardscrabble existence with six brothers and sisters in a cramped apartment.
Now, he's poised to become just the second MAC wide receiver drafted in the first round. The other? Marshall's Randy Moss in 1998.
But that's only if NFL teams put more stock in his tape than in his recent injuries.
Davis opted out of the Senior Bowl because of a shoulder problem. The he suffered ligament damage in his ankle while working out in late January and underwent surgery. That sidelined him for all activities at the Combine and at Western Michigan's pro day on March 15.
Still, most draft analysts have the 6-foot-3, 209-pound Davis coming off the board in the first round, some as high as the top 15. But it remains to be seen if injuries drop his draft stock.
"I don't think it should," Davis said, "because my game tape is not too shabby. I'll be good by minicamp, so that's really what matters."
There is no doubt among those who know Davis that he will do whatever it takes to be ready by then. His work
ethic is legendary, and he's been durable. He started 50 of the 52 games the Broncos played in the previous dour years, missing one game with a concussion and other with a hamstring injury.
In his NFL Draft 2017 Preview, draft analyst Nolan Nawrocki says this about Davis: "Intensely competitive and plays very hard. Prepares like a pro and leads with his diligence in all facets of the game, from the weight room, to the practice field, to the film room -- respected team leader."
There are some other knocks on Davis, including the level of competition he faced in the Mid-American Conference.
"I know a lot of scouts and a lot of other players think that my level of competition wasn't really that serious," Davis said. "But I feel like I can play with the best of them. My confidence is up there. I'm not afraid to go up against anyone."
He showed that in 2015 against Michigan State, when he caught 10 passes for 154 yards and a touchdown. Last season, Davis caught 4 passes for 97 yards against Illinois, 7-for-70 against Northwestern, and 6-for-73 with 1 TD vs. Wisconsin in his final game.
"I feel my game tape isn't anything to be ashamed of, especially when you play bigger schools," Davis said. "My mindset is I can compete with anybody. It really doesn't matter who's across from me. They bleed red, just like me."
In Pro Football Weekly's Draft Guide 2017, former NFL personnel executive Greg Gabriel wrote that Davis is, "As talented a receiver as you will find in this draft. A big, physical guy, whose game can be compared to Brandon Marshall or Dez Bryant."
Even better, Davis doesn't come with any negative character issues.
• Next: Edge rushers
NFL draft: Top 10 wide receiversName, school Ht. Wt. 40-time
Mike Williams, Clemson 6-3.5 218 4.57
Ran simplified route tree, lacks great speed but has everything else (size, hands, hops) to be a WR1.
Corey Davis, Western Michigan 6-2.6 209 4.55
All-time FBS leader with 5,285 receiving yards. Big, strong, tough and driven to be the best.
John Ross, Washington 5-10.6 188 4.22
Explosive athlete has speed to blow the top off any defense. KR ability. Could struggle vs. press cov-erage.
Juju Smith-Schuster, USC 6-1.3 215 4.56
Big, strong, tough leader who is fearless over the middle and blocks. Lacks only elite speed and twitch.
Zay Jones, East Carolina 6-2.1 201 4.48
Doesn't play to 40-time but excellent hands and tough over the middle. Monster '16 season (158/1,746/8).
Cooper Kupp, Eastern Washington 6-1.5 204 4.64
All-time FCS leader with 6,464 yards, 428 catches, 73 TDs. Not super fast or twitchy but catches every-thing.
Dede Westbrook, Oklahoma 5-11.7 178 4.34
Has game-changing speed and big-play ability. Will work the middle despite spindly frame. Character concerns.
Curtis Samuel, Ohio State 5-10.5 196 4.34
Swiss Army knife weapon rushed for 771 yards (8.0-yard average) in '16 and can KR. Still raw as a WR.
ArDarius Stewart, Alabama 5-11.1 204 4.49
Underutilized in run-first scheme and still raw. Built like a RB and runs like one after the catch.
Chris Godwin, Penn State 6-1 209 4.42
Excellent combination of speed, quickness, size and agility. Run-after-catch ability; willing blocker.
-- The number after the period on heights refers to eighth of an inch.