‘Preview’ scouting reports are when I take a look at a small amount of tape and overall output data we have on a non-QB prospect before the NFL Combine and complete a preview report on what I’m seeing before I do a larger scouting study after the NFL Combine or Pro Days. Our computer scouting models cannot function properly without the NFL Combine and/or Pro Day data, so I’m not committing to these scouting reports being my definitive word on the prospect. Using what we have, I wanted to take a glimpse at some of the bigger names to share what I see initially.
After watching a few game tapes and looking over the numbers of both these players, my first reactions are – there have to be better WR prospects out there OR this is going to be a down year for elite wide receiver prospects.
It’s not a slam on Williams-Davis, but I don’t see them as ‘it’ WR prospects right off the bat. I see good/very good, but I don’t see ‘wow’. One might be ‘wow’, but I’ll get to that in a moment. I think back over the last few drafts of guys who just amazed me with their tape and/or numbers…I think of Amari Cooper or Brandin Cooks or Odell Beckham or Jordan Matthews or Mike Evans or when I saw Tyrell Williams at Western Oregon and even Kevin White (who I am losing faith in quickly). All the WRs I just mentioned did (to me) special things in college via eye-popping numbers and/or made your jaw drop because of their hands-speed-agility-technique-size, etc. I look at Mike Williams and Corey Davis and I think ‘they’re really good‘. I’m not thinking ‘wow’.
I thought DeVante Parker was pretty good. Sterling Shepard was pretty good. Sammy Watkins was very good. There are a lot of good or very good WR prospects…rare are the ‘special’. The ‘it factor’ type of 4.2-4.3+ runners or 6’4″+ monsters or technically superior craftsmen – these types do not grow on trees. I see Williams-Davis more in the DeVante Parker, Davante Adams, Sammy Watkins…very good ‘B+’ wide receivers anyone would be happy to have in the NFL, but not worth paying up for or drafting top 10 overall, etc.
If Williams or Davis (and Smith-Schuster) are the cream of this year’s WR crop – then this wide receiver class does not impress me as much as in prior years’ classes have. I’ve been more impressed with the tape I’ve seen on not-on-anyone’s-radar WR prospect DeAngelo Yancey (Purdue) than I have been with Williams-Davis-Schuster.
That’s not to say Williams-Davis will fail in the NFL. I can see they are very fine talents…but that’s where I’m standing after a basic study: they’re very good, not franchise WRs. Nothing wrong with that, but if I am right, an NFL team needs to look more closely at free agency for WR impact needs. Dynasty GMs looking for WRs need to consider dealing 1st-round 2017 dynasty rookie draft picks and acquiring now-less-sexy WR prospects from the 2016 rookie draft.
Sure, Williams-Davis can be better than my ‘B+’ initial grade. Margin of error…’A-‘ or ‘C+’? Depends on who you tell me their QB (and coach) is. Andrew Luck…sign me up. Alex Smith, no thanks.
If I am wrong about either Williams or Davis…if in the end my full tape study and the measurables come in way better, etc., and I end up writing a glowing report and our scouting models end up giving an elite 10.0+ grade to one of them – I would guess the one who is the possible star of these two is Corey Davis. I could be subliminally moved by him wearing #84, but Davis kinda moves and plays like a taller Antonio Brown. Even with that…landing spot is everything. One man’s Antonio Brown is another man’s Stefon Diggs. Davis played with a pretty limited QB in a mid-major conference and put up huge numbers for the past three years. Davis carried his QB/team. So did Justin Hardy at East Carolina…and he’s buried in the NFL…and no one cares about him. I am not ready for a definitive call on how close Davis is to Justin Hardy or Antonio Brown?
Mike Williams strikes me as a poor man’s Sammy Watkins and Corey Davis strikes me as a taller, less agile Antonio Brown/Stefon Diggs. I will reassess after the NFL Combine and a deeper tape study.
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