theScore’s Pick Your Prospect series takes an in-depth, head-to-head look at some of the top players leading up to the 2017 NFL Draft.
Davis vs. Williams
The consensus two best receivers available in this year’s NFL draft are locks to be selected in the first round, but which one is best positioned to have a more impactful pro career: the man with the most receiving yards in FBS history or the star wideout for the defending national champions?
Let’s break down how Western Michigan’s Corey Davis and Clemson’s Mike Williams measure up in five key categories:
Williams doesn’t own the most speed or quickness, but he can turn it on when he gets the ball in his hands. The redshirt junior ran in the 4.5s at his pro day, and at his size he was never going to be a burner. He found separation in the open field at the college level, but should find that much more difficult against some of the world’s best defensive backs.
Davis is much surer with his movements. Though he played against lesser competition in the MAC, he accelerates and separates quickly off the line.
Williams is far from a polished route-runner. He can be muscled off his path by collegiate corners.
Davis owns a more mature route tree and is more deceptive with his movements. As a productive receiver for four years, the development is apparent in the senior.
The Clemson product is known for his penchant for catching passes over defenders. That may be overstated, however, as he doesn’t own the biggest hops, evidenced by his disappointing 32.5-inch vertical at the scouting combine. He instead uses his 6-foot-4, 218-pound frame and basketball background to gain optimal position and his strong hands to pick pigskins off the top of corners’ helmets.
Davis cuts quite the figure as well. Standing at 6-foot-3 and 209 pounds, the 22-year-old is as much the deep threat as Williams. In his final collegiate season, he averaged 15.5 yards per catch and ripped off receptions as long as 70 yards to go along with his nation-leading 19 touchdown catches.
Williams isn’t the cleanest hand-catcher, but as noted above, he owns a strong pair of mitts. Check out the highlight of his’ 24-yard catch on the game-winning drive in the national championship game. He used his size and vert to get up for the pass, yet immediately pinned the ball against his chest. These are the receptions Williams is known for, but they are examples of how his game is not yet refined.
Davis can catch a ball in traffic, and he doesn’t use his body to secure the reception. He did have his share of drops, however.
Davis may be the more reliable of the two, but Williams owns the wider catch radius, as he often adjusts to make acrobatic catches.
This is Williams’ strength. Though he missed much of the 2015 season with a serious neck injury, he is not averse to contact, often shrugging off defenders and absorbing big hits to make a reception. He also took a number of blows to the head and neck area in 2016, yet powered through the entire campaign.
Davis isn’t as adept at running through the middle of a defense. While he doesn’t necessarily shy away from contact, he doesn’t seek it out either. The physicality measure goes to his compatriot.
At the moment, Davis may be regarded as more of a finished product. He used his time in college to develop into the prospect he is: the FBS record-holder in receiving yards.
Williams has room to grow, and under the right tutelage could blossom into even more of a monster. The dilemma NFL teams face is whether they need the immediate production or can afford to mold Williams’ rough edges over time and enjoy the fruits of their labor down the road.
Copyright © 2017 Score Media Ventures Inc. All rights reserved. Certain content reproduced under license.