REWIND – Reviewing My Very Deep Sleeper Series from 2018 (S3, E7 Davis Webb)
My wildly popular ‘Very Deep Sleeper’ series was brought back by FantasyPros for its fourth season. In celebration, and preparation, and review – I’m going to post last year’s series, 17 articles in all, daily with new commentary for 2019.
My concept of the VDS series was to take a look at a dozen or so players who were way off the grid (like way off the grid/very deep ADPs or not even showing in top 100-150+ positionally on FantasyPros) for the upcoming fantasy season and try and make a case for them as shocking breakouts that year. I hoped if just one panned out each year that would be pretty amazing…these are like taking half court shots in basketball.
Well, we have had that one-a-season success and then some. The VDS series gave birth to Tyrell Williams eons before most people knew who he was. Given-up-for-dead Tyler Boyd was a sweet hit from our VDS series last preseason. A number of players have emerged from the VDS series…even if it was a year or two later. My goal is to educate on the player, at a minimum, and then hope 1-2 of them really pop at some point.
Let’s look back at the 2018 season, in the order they were published…and I’ll add some commentary from ‘the now’ as I’ve re-read it.
You’d think this might be a stupid Very Deep Sleeper to discuss from 2018… A pitch for young Davis Webb as the future for the Giants after Eli, but then new (soon-to-be-burned-in-effigy) GM Dave Gettleman and his new head coach released Webb before the 53-man rosters were finalized – officially ushering in the Kyle Lauletta era, which quickly bombed and ushered in the Daniel Jones, sure-to-fail, era.
You might think Webb was a bad choice to profile in 2018, dumb even. I say it’s dumb too…but not on my behalf. I think it shows the sheer awfulness of the state of NFL scouting. Daniel Jones being more sought after, more regarded than Davis Webb makes zero sense on so many levels. Webb was a far superior college QB…not even debatable. Webb performed way better than the Daniel Jones flop at the Senior Bowl week. Webb has a much better off-field experience, demeanor, leadership skills, and IQ.
Webb doesn’t have the Manning’s seal of approval. Nothing is smarter than the current starter ,who doesn’t want to be replaced, giving his recommendations on who should be drafted to replace him. Smart move by the Manning’s suckering the Giants to give Eli less pressure of a replacement and getting their good friend/coach David Cutcliffe a 1st-round pick QB from his program to boast about. The Giants were used by the Manning’s, as the NYG management team continues to spiral into one of the worst in the league…after being a hallmark organization years ago.
I know Webb is about done for hope in the NFL, because they didn’t recognize him before and they sure won’t now…rather they’ll chase other, newer butterflies. However, please read my concept here, so if/when Webb does get a real chance (likely by accident), you’ll know what you’re dealing with.
What I pitched about a year ago:
I know it seems like a million years ago or more like it never happened – but you do recall that Eli Manning got benched last year, right? Think of the gravity and implications of that event – Manning, 12+ year starter, was playing so poorly that the organization decided to bench him. I don’t believe it was just a Ben McAdoo thing. You don’t bench Manning without running it by your owner and other bosses first, as much as they tried to distance themselves from the decision afterward.
The move to bench him, like most things McAdoo did it in 2017, backfired horrifically. The fan base that had been calling for Manning’s head for a while finally got what they’d been asking for – only the timing was comical. The only thing Giants fans hated more than ineffective Manning play was the mere sight of McAdoo. So, when McAdoo benched him, the fans decided to revolt against McAdoo — and thus made Manning the unwitting hero of the story/drama.
He had quite the triumphant return…losing three-in-a-row before winning a meaningless Week 17 season finale game. He threw five TD passes and was picked six times in his four-game return to glory. It wasn’t all that glorious of a return, but it got Ben McAdoo fired the week after he benched Manning – so, the fans were satisfied at least.
Now, there’s a new coaching staff in 2018…and they’re ‘stuck’ with Manning, who may be “done,” for all intents and purposes, as a productive starter in the NFL – he’ll be almost 38 years old this season, his numbers have been slowly declining, and he’s 26-37-0 (.413) as a starter the past four years. The team hasn’t won its division since 2011, which is the last time they won a playoff game (and the Super Bowl). They’ve finished third or fourth place in the NFC East four of the past five seasons.
The natives are getting restless. Ownership is getting so restless, they fired a coach midseason in 2017. Ownership is so restless they replaced their long-time, respected GM. Ownership is so agitated that they were cool with Manning getting benched last year (until they weren’t). Tom Coughlin was shown the door a few years ago. Ownership is not sitting on its hands recently, and they may be at the end of their rope with Manning.
What if he starts this season 0-4, 0-5, 0-6, 0-7? It’s possible. Jacksonville in Week 1 is his worst nightmare – a big-time pass rush and great cover corners. At Dallas, at Houston the next two weeks…again, big-time pass rush teams potentially for 2018 (at their full strength) and both games on the road. Hosting the Saints in Week 4…not good. Weeks 5-7 they play 2017 playoff teams at Carolina, Philly, at Atlanta. In the Giants’ first seven games of 2018, they will play all teams that were in the playoffs in 2016 or 2017 or both.
What if a declining Manning crumbles under the schedule pressure? What if Davis Webb tears it up in the 2018 preseason? You might buy the Manning collapse potential, but might believe Davis Webb is a nobody. Au contraire. I would argue he was one of the two-three best QB prospects of the 2017 NFL Draft, and he was the fourth quarterback taken in the 2017 NFL Draft. For you to buy Davis Webb as a Very Deep Sleeper for fantasy, you have to buy him as a higher-end talent.
I’m going to display the opening/intro section of my Webb scouting report I did for NFL teams and clients back in January 2017 to give you a better feel for his potential and backstory. From my scouting report on CollegeFootballMetrics.com in 2017:
What a strange college journey for Davis Webb. As a true freshman (2013) at Texas Tech, right before the season starts, he gets sick and loses 40 pounds (from 200+ pounds down to 160+ pounds). He recovers quickly. He’s expected to be the backup to walk-on starter Baker Mayfield in 2013, but immediately sees sporadic snaps/playing time in the first few games. Five games into the season for the 5-0 Red Raiders, he gets his first start versus Iowa State – he throws 56 times for 415 yards and 3 TDs in the ‘Air Raid’ offense, and the team jumps to a 6-0 record. The following week he goes for 462 yards and 2 TDs in a win over West Virginia…now, 7-0. He then loses his next 3 games, gets banged up in third loss and misses a few games. He returns for their bowl game, starts, and drops 403 yards and Arizona State with 4 TD/0 INT. An amazing, strange run for the true freshman.
Of course, Webb becomes the ‘it’ young QB in college football heading into 2014. He forces Baker Mayfield to transfer to Oklahoma. Webb’s rolling again as a sophomore – he throws 22 TD passes in his first 7 games but gets hurt (ankle injury) in Tech’s eighth game and is out for the rest of the season – ankle and a shoulder injury. True freshman, and baseball star prospect (and son of a former MLB pitcher) Patrick Mahomes takes over for Webb and racks big numbers as well.
2015 is a full-fledged QB battle between Webb and Mahomes. Texas Tech commits to Mahomes. Webb is his backup for the season…a dramatic fall from emerging star and Heisman hopeful to backup QB in the span of a year. Webb transfers to Cal for his 2016 season.
In 2016, for Cal, Webb produces huge numbers again – he throws for 3.1 TDs per game with 10 games of 300+ yards passing, six games with 390+ yards passing, and three 440+ yard passing games including a 522-yard performance against San Diego State.
Everyone is left to wonder: Is Davis Webb another Texas Tech stat compiler (and similar pass-game mindset at Cal) who will fail to convert to the next level or is he a legit NFL quarterback prospect? The guy couldn’t even hold his job at Texas Tech, so how good could he be?
He’s pretty darn good.
I get why Texas Tech made their decision to roll with Mahomes. They were going to lose one of them to transfer, and Texas Tech would rack up big offensive numbers with most any decent QB. They chose the physically bigger athlete with less injury concerns, more eligibility, and bigger family name (my suspicion). No major slight to Webb, but Mahomes was the smarter overall choice for TTU…but it was not a smack to Webb’s ability.
Webb’s throwing mechanics are excellent. He has a rapid release and moves his body into his throws. He has more touch/instinct than most QB prospects in this draft or of the past few. He’s a great ‘new era’ quarterback. He gets rid of the ball quickly and used to running an up-tempo offense and just playing chess with the defense. Webb reminds me a little of Marcus Mariota and Dak Prescott…except Webb is not as much of a running threat and is more of a natural passer.
The one thing that sticks out in my notes – his weapons at Cal. Webb had terrific output and tape, but his output could have much greater if he had any WRs to throw to. His best WR at Cal (Chad Hansen) missed time with an injury and the other options were not NFL material. Webb could have been even better at Cal with more weapons…and maybe seen as a better draft prospect as well. His receivers held him back, to some degree.
I mention Mariota and Prescott – I mean that in the sense of style of play and mannerisms in college…quick decisions, rapid release, great instincts. But I also mean it in the same way I scouted Prescott pre-draft 2016 – Webb is a ‘new era’ QB prospect. He’s probably thrown more passes in his college career than most QB prospects from a decade ago did in their entire lives before they hit the NFL. In three seasons of play, Webb threw 1,367 passes and Lord knows how many more throws practicing that ‘Air Raid’ style plus in all the seven-on-seven camps, etc. Webb is ‘ready to go’ for the NFL right away. He’d be better than 5-10 NFL quarterbacks the first day he hit the field…some of that is his natural talent, but a lot is his repetitions…his repetitions + talent. Webb, like Mariota and Prescott, is unflappable. He’s in total control playing quarterback. He’s just been in offenses that feature a heavy volume of throws per game, per season.
To further Webb’s preparedness, you have to consider he is a graduate student working on his master’s degree. He is the son of a top, rising high school football coach. He’s likely been to every elite camp there ever was. He was quickly named captain of his (new) Cal team. When he left Texas Tech, and then backed out of a loose commitment to Colorado (to choose Cal), the coaches from Texas Tech and Colorado did nothing but praise his character and work ethic after he left them. I’ve watched Webb in interviews and he is genuine and in command. He is well groomed to be the leader of an NFL franchise. An impressive QB prospect from every aspect.
What if Manning fails…but also what if Webb has an incredible preseason showing? It’s one thing if Manning tails off, but it’s another if Webb just captures the desperate hearts of the fan-base (and ownership) in the preseason.
The new Giants coach and GM know the time of Manning is limited, and the end may happen in 2018. The new management team needs their future franchise quarterback. Sitting there with the #2 overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft with several first-round grade QBs available, the Giants took a running back and didn’t take a QB until much later in the draft — a career backup type/solid quarterback prospect (Kyle Lauletta). I think they skipped taking a quarterback in 2018 because arguably the best QB prospect in the 2018 NFL Draft would have been Davis Webb. If not #1, then #2 behind Baker Mayfield, the same Baker Mayfield he sent packing to Oklahoma.
If Davis Webb is a high-end QB prospect, with great mechanics and arm, and is beyond smart and a leader wherever he goes – like most of the young QBs these days, he can hit the ground running. He could take over a few games into the 2018 season and look up to see a fantastic #1-2 WR punch of Odell Beckham and Sterling Shepard with explosive tight end Evan Engram, a revamped o-line, and that guy they drafted at running back that’s supposed to be pretty good. He could have very nice weaponry surrounding him.
Davis is no game manager. He comes from college systems of pass-pass-pass. He’ll have two preseasons under his belt walking into his first 2018 preseason game. He will press on the gas pedal as soon as you give him the keys – if the team lets him. He’s built to produce fantasy numbers.
The stage is set for a hostile takeover of the Giants starting QB position in 2018. Davis might shock the system with his splash into the NFL in 2018, putting an end to the Manning era in New York.
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