Corey Davis

Make-Or-Break Year: Titans WR Corey Davis

We recently profiled Bengals receiver John Ross as a make-or-break player as he enters the final year of his rookie deal, and today we’ll look at one of his draftmates, Titans WR Corey Davis. Like Ross, Davis saw his fifth-year option declined earlier this year, which puts him on track for unrestricted free agency following the 2020 season.

Davis, the No. 5 overall pick of the 2017 draft, entered the league after a dominant collegiate career with Western Michigan. Over his sophomore to senior seasons, Davis averaged 88 catches for 1,448 receiving yards and 15 TDs, and while his level of competition in the MAC was not what it might have been in a Power Five conference, that type of production is tough to ignore. And when it comes packaged in a 6-3, 209-lb physical specimen, it’s easy to see why Tennessee pulled the trigger.

Unfortunately for Davis and the Titans, the 25-year-old has been unable to replicate that production in the pros. The all-time NCAA leader in receiving yards has just 1,867 yards in his first three NFL seasons, and after scoring 52 total TDs through the air in college – good for second-most in NCAA history – Davis has found paydirt just six times with Tennessee.

Though he has never suffered a major injury, a variety of smaller ailments may have prevented him from reaching his potential. He was unable to participate in drills during the 2017 scouting combine due to an ankle injury, and his rookie season was hampered by a hamstring injury. He managed to stay healthy in 2018, so it’s perhaps unsurprising that he posted career highs in receptions (65) yards (891) and receiving TDs (four). He led the team in all three categories, and though his catch rate was not particularly impressive – those 65 catches came on 112 targets – he appeared to be poised for a breakout.

Last season, however, Davis battled hip issues and saw rookie A.J. Brown emerge as the team’s leading receiver. Davis finished with just 43 catches for 601 yards and two scores, so Tennessee really had no choice but to decline the fifth-year option. That option would have been guaranteed for injury only but would have been worth nearly $16MM, so the Titans could not take that chance.

Given his pedigree, Davis will almost surely get another NFL opportunity in 2021 even if he continues to underwhelm in 2020. But a disappointing effort this season will likely lead to a one-year, prove-it deal next year, whereas a strong campaign could secure him a multi-year payday with a great deal of guaranteed money.

Offensive coordinator Arthur Smith recently sung Davis’ praises, saying, “[t]here were some huge explosive plays (last year) that Corey was the unsung hero to. He’s a big part of this offense and I think he’ll take another step.”

A full season with the resurgent Ryan Tannehill could help, though Davis did not perform any better last season with Tannehill under center than he did with Marcus Mariota. The Titans did not select a receiver in this year’s draft, so Davis will continue to start opposite Brown, with Adam Humphries in the slot. If he’s not careful, this could be his last year as an unquestioned starter, so it will be incumbent upon him to make the most of that opportunity and start realizing all of the promise that made him a top-five pick three years ago.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Titans Notes: Henry, Davis, QB

While speculation swirls about the Titans and a potential Jadeveon Clowney signing, here’s the latest on the players who are actually on Tennessee’s roster:

  • Last year, Derrick Henry led the league in both carries (303) and rushing yards (1,540). This year, he’ll likely be looking at a reduced workload. Tennessee’s offense will benefit “if more guys are touching the ball,” Titans offensive coordinator Arthur Smith says (Twitter link via Michael Giardi of NFL.com). If a significant number of those touches figure to go to third-round rookie Darrynton Evans, Henry’s future earnings could be impacted. Unless the Titans and Derrick Henry come to terms on an extension between now and the July 15 deadline, the running back will be on course for free agency in 2021. It’s worth mentioning that a lighter workload may actually benefit Henry as teams tend to fret about RB odometers.
  • Corey Davis‘ future with the Titans is also in limbo, but Smith tells the team website that he likes what he’s seen out of the wide receiver thus far. “There were some huge explosive plays (last year) that Corey was the unsung hero to,” Smith said. “He’s a big part of this offense and I think he’ll take another step. I feel very confident in Corey, A.J. and Adam (Humphries) and that group.” The Titans, as expected, turned down Davis’ fifth-year option in May. Through three pro seasons, Davis has just six touchdowns to his credit.
  • There’s been talk of the Titans adding a veteran backup quarterback, but Smith suggested that the QB2 job will go to either Logan Woodside or Cole McDonald, depending on how the camp competition unfolds.

Titans Decline Corey Davis’ Option

The Titans will decline Corey Davis‘ fifth-year option, according to Tom Pelissero of NFL.com (on Twitter). The wide receiver is now on course for unrestricted free agency following the 2020 season.

Davis was the first of three wide receivers selected in the 2017 NFL Draft. Unfortunately, the No. 5 overall pick has yet to realize his potential at the pro level. He showed promise in 2018 with 65 catches, 891 yards, and four touchdowns (all career highs), but he regressed last year. In 2019, Davis finished out with just 43 grabs for 601 yards and two TDs. For his career, Davis has found pay dirt only six times.

The option would have paid Davis $15.68MM in 2021, far too much given his track record. Instead of guaranteeing his year for injury at an exorbitant rate, the Titans will let the year play out and take it from there.

Davis’ hip injury didn’t help matters, of course. While he was hampered, second-round rookie A.J. Brown stepped up as the team’s WR1, eclipsing 1,000 yards and scoring eight times.

Meanwhile, the Titans have exercised the fifth-year add-on for cornerback Adoree’ Jackson, the No. 18 overall pick in the ’17 class.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

South Notes: Panthers, Newton, Titans, Davis, Henry, Buccaneers, Winston

Just three years ago, Cam Newton was the league’s MVP who led the Panthers to a 15-1 record and a Super Bowl appearance. The past two years haven’t gone nearly as well for him, and now Newton is on the “hot seat” according to David Newton of ESPN.com. He notes that 2018 will be a big year for Newton as he starts anew with a new offensive coordinator and scheme.

“If he doesn’t show improvement after consecutive down years, there will be a lot of questions about his future” he writes. Newton is the face of the franchise, but the team could theoretically get out of his contract relatively easily after this season. It would be shocking if it happens, but according to this report, it’s not totally inconceivable that the end of the Cam Newton-era in Carolina could be near if he doesn’t turn things around this season.

Here’s more from the league’s southern divisions:

  • Corey Davis “was one of the stars” of the Titans’ early offseason workouts, according to Jim Wyatt of Titansonline.com. The fifth overall pick in 2017, Davis was somewhat limited by injuries last season, but still flashed a ton of potential. Wyatt notes that Davis “looked smooth during the offseason, snatching the ball out of the air with ease in traffic”, and that the team is “counting on Davis to make a big leap in Year 2.”
  • Jameis Winston‘s suspension may have caught a lot of people by surprise, but it didn’t shock the Buccaneers, according to Rick Stroud of The Tampa Bay Times (Twitter link). Stroud writes that the Bucs had been bracing for the suspension for quite some time, and re-signed Ryan Fitzpatrick back in March knowing they might need him to start some games.
  • “The plan” is for Derrick Henry to be the Titans‘ lead back in 2018, according to Wyatt. The Titans signed Dion Lewis to a four-year, $20MM deal this offseason, but apparently view him as more of a complimentary piece.

Extra Points: Donald, Gruden, Titans, Bills

There’s no end in sight to the standoff between the Rams and holdout Aaron Donald, but the two sides remain on “amicable” terms, according to Alden Gonzalez of ESPN.com. The superstar defensive lineman is under control through the next two seasons at low costs relative to his play and could be a franchise tag candidate in 2019 and ’20, meaning the Rams don’t have any incentive to give him a long-term mega-deal, one NFL agent told Gonzalez. “The Rams should sit back and do nothing. Let him play out this year, let him play out the fifth-year option, and franchise him,” said the agent.

The agent’s point of view makes sense from a financial perspective, but it wouldn’t be acting in good faith, notes Gonzalez, who writes that Donald is worth breaking the bank for and someone who’s clearly a franchise player. While the Rams are aware of the 26-year-old’s greatness, they also realize that they technically don’t have to cave into Donald, which puts them in a tough situation. Ultimately, if a deal does come together, it might not be until closer to September, observes Gonzalez. That’s when the Rams extended wide receiver Tavon Austin, edge rusher Robert Quinn and nose tackle Michael Brockers in past years. In the meantime, they can fine Donald $40K per day as long as he’s absent.

  • Redskins coach Jay Gruden wouldn’t be surprised if his brother, Jon Gruden, returned to coaching. “It wouldn’t shock me, no,” said Jay Gruden (via John Keim of ESPN.com). “I don’t know why he would want to do that. He has a pretty good job. He has a passion for the game, the way he talks and prepares for the job he has is second to none. He loves coaching and he loves preparing. I don’t know if he’ll come back or not.” Jon Gruden hasn’t coached since 2008, and while the Monday Night Football commentator suggested last week that a comeback was possible, he indicated he’s content in his current role a few days later.
  • Titans receiver Corey Davis, the fifth pick in this year’s draft and the last rookie to sign his contract, will sit out at least a week after suffering a hamstring injury Thursday, head coach Mike Mularkey told 104.5 The Zone in Nashville (via Cameron Wolfe of ESPN.com). Davis will not need surgery, fortunately, though the Titans will evaluate him week to week. He expects to be in Tennessee’s lineup come Week 1, tweets Wolfe.
  • Speaking to reporters Friday, Bills head coach Sean McDermott didn’t rule out foot surgery for left tackle Cordy Glenn. Both the Bills and Glenn can now breathe a sigh of relief, though, as the stalwart’s “fine” and will likely resume practicing next week, reports John Wawrow of The Associated Press. Glenn’s ankle injury limited him to a career-low 11 games last season, but the five-year veteran’s play still ranked an impressive 21st among 76 qualified tackles at Pro Football Focus.

Zach Links contributed to this post.

Titans, Corey Davis Agree To Deal

The 2017 rookie class is now completely signed. Corey Davis reached an agreement with the Titans on the customary four-year rookie contract, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets.

Davis is on his way to the Titans facility to sign the contract, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com reports (on Twitter). The No. 5 overall pick follows first-rounders Solomon Thomas (49ers) and Gareon Conley (Raiders) as draftees signed on camp weekend.

Offset language appeared to be at the root of the impasse between Davis and the Titans, and the team typically includes it in its rookie deals. It’s unclear whether the Titans budged on their precedent.

Davis headlines a wide receiver makeover in Tennessee, which also added third-round pick Taywan Taylor and UFA Eric Decker. The Western Michigan prodigy posted three straight seasons of 1,400-plus air yards and caught 52 touchdowns during his four-year career with the Mid-American Conference program.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: Gilchrist, Titans, Kaepernick

Free agent safety Marcus Gilchrist has been cleared for action and is lining up visits for next week, reports Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link). Gilchrist tore his patellar tendon while with the Jets last season and wound up on the injured reserve in mid-December. The six-year veteran has combined for 91 appearances and 69 starts with the Chargers and Jets since entering the NFL as a second-round pick in 2011. Gilchrist started in all 61 of his appearances from 2013-16, when he combined for eight interceptions. He picked off two passes in 13 games last season en route a passable 53rd-place ranking among Pro Football Focus’ 90 qualified safeties.

More from around the league:

  • Titans rookie wide receiver Corey Davis could be headed toward a holdout as the team gets ready to start training camp Friday, writes Jason Wolf of the Tennessean. Davis, the fifth overall pick, is one of three unsigned first-rounders, and it seems the ex-Western Michigan star is haggling with the Titans over offset language. The Titans have typically included offset language in rookie deals and “are reluctant to change precedent,” writes Wolf.
  • In a piece laying out the best fits for some of the top free agents remaining on the board, Kevin Seifert of ESPN.com names Seattle as the most logical destination for quarterback Colin Kaepernick. The 29-year-old met with the Seahawks in May, but they never exchanged offers and the club went on to sign the unproven Austin Davis instead. He and Trevone Boykin are all the Seahawks have behind Russell Wilson, leading Seifert to argue that they should circle back to Kaepernick. The former 49er is also better than all of the Jets’ signal-callers (Josh McCown, Christian Hackenberg and Bryce Petty), contends Seifert. Regardless of whether that’s true, the rebuilding outfit looks unlikely to add Kaepernick or any other experienced free agent to its current mix of passers.
  • Both the Kaepernick-less Seahawks and Jets rank toward the bottom of the league when it comes to the quality of their backup QBs, opines Field Yates of ESPN.com (Insider required and recommended). No one’s in worse shape than the Colts, though, observes Yates. Their fallback to Andrew Luck is Scott Tolzien, who has been horrid across nine career appearances with the Packers and Colts. He got into three contests last year and could see time this season if Luck’s shoulder continues to be an issue.
  • Along with the previously reported Kitt O’Brien, the Dolphins worked out fellow guards Connor Bozick and Isame Faciane on Wednesday, according to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald. The Dolphins are content with their current choices at guard, per Jackson, which explains why they didn’t sign any of those unproven players or look at more established free agents.

Draft Rumors: Cowboys, Conley, McCaffrey

Let’s round up the latest NFL Draft rumors:

  • The Cowboys should not been overlooked as a possible destination when it comes to Ohio State cornerback Gareon Conley, Tom Pelissero of USA Today tweets. Dallas need cornerback help and, as Pelissero notes, they’re used to taking risks. Dallas had Conley in for a visit and also phoned him on Wednesday. Conley, of course, is dealing with allegations of rape, and could fall as far as the third round. If he’s cleared of all charges, Conley could represent an excellent value for the Cowboys at the end of Round 1.
  • Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (on Twitter) gets the sense that Stanford running back Christian McCaffrey is likely to go in the top ten. One NFL GM told Schefter that McCaffrey “had the best combine workout I’ve seen. Ever.” McCaffrey has been linked to the top-10 range for some time, and a number of clubs within that space make sense as a landing spot. The Eagles, sitting at No. 14, are reportedly “infatuated” with McCaffrey, but understand they may have to trade ahead of Carolina.
  • Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com (on Twitter) wouldn’t be shocked if the Chargers beat the Panthers to the punch on selecting McCaffrey. Los Angeles used a first-round pick on running back Melvin Gordon in 2015, and he broke out with 10 rushing touchdowns during his sophomore campaign. However, the Chargers did lose Danny Woodhead in free agency, and McCaffrey would presumably fill Woodhead’s passing down role with aplomb.
  • The Ravens‘ interest in Corey Davis is real, Peter Schrager of NFL Network tweets. Baltimore owns the No. 16 overall pick, and is certainly in the market for a wide receiver after losing Steve Smith to retirement. Former first-round pick Breshad Perriman has been injured during much of his NFL tenure, so the Ravens could use another pass-catcher to pair with Mike Wallace. Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle reported a strong link between Davis and the Ravens on Wednesday.
  • Both UCLA linebacker Takkarist McKinley and Washington wide receiver John Ross could slide due to their medical history, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. Both players underwent surgery during the predraft process. While McKinley and Ross are certainly considered talented prospects, interested clubs will have to weigh injury risk against potential upside.

Ravens Have Strong Interest In Corey Davis

With the 16th pick in this year’s NFL draft, the Ravens could attempt to bolster an underwhelming receiving corps. The club has “considerable interest” in Western Michigan wideout Corey Davis, reports Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle (Twitter link).

Corey Davis (vertical)

Even though Davis underwent ankle surgery in February and missed the scouting combine, it’s possible he’ll be off the board long before the Ravens are on the clock. Davis is nearly all the way back from the surgery, which bodes well for his draft stock. So does the 6-foot-3, 213-pounder’s production at the college level, where he hauled in 331 passes and 52 touchdowns over four years. Davis was at his best in 2016, finishing with personal highs in receptions (97), yards (1,500) and scores (19).

Landing Davis could be a pipe dream for Baltimore, but somehow adding him would be a boon to a Ravens team in need of more weapons in the passing game. Steve Smith retired after last season, leaving Mike Wallace as the only receiver on the Ravens’ roster with a significant track record of success in the pros. The 30-year-old Wallace is unsigned beyond next season, though, so his time with the club might be winding down.

Behind Wallace, the Ravens’ best option is Breshad Perriman, a first-rounder in 2015 who sat out his rookie season because of injury. Perriman stayed healthy last year and showed promise (33 receptions, 15.1 yards per catch and three TDs), but he wasn’t exactly a force. Meanwhile, the only other wideout on the Ravens’ roster who caught a pass last year, Chris Moore, totaled just seven receptions.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

PFR’s 2017 Live NFL Mock Draft

The 2017 NFL Draft begins on Thursday night, and Pro Football Rumors is back with its second mock draft of the year. While our initial mock attempted to project what will happen in Round 1, we’ve taken a different approach for mock draft 2.0.

PFR editor Zach Links and I conducted this live mock draft on Tuesday morning, rotating picks and breaking down what we would do were we in charge of these selections. We posted each pick on Twitter, followed by a short explanation of our thought process on this page.

Here’s the complete mock:

1. Cleveland Browns (Zach) – Myles Garrett, LB, Texas A&M

I suspect this is the easiest pick either one of us will make all day. Garrett is the best pure talent in this year’s draft and the Browns would be foolish to go in any other direction at the top of the draft.

2. San Francisco 49ers (Dallas) – Malik Hooker, S, Ohio State

Reports that the 49ers are considering a quarterback with the second overall selection stand out as a potential smokescreen, and instead San Francisco uses the No. 2 pick to bolster its defense. Hooker, who recently earned a full medical clearance following combine rechecks, has been commonly linked to the Chargers as a perfect fit for Los Angeles defensive coordinator Gus Bradley‘s scheme. But the 49ers are running the same defensive look as the Chargers under new DC Robert Saleh, and Hooker would give the team a centerfielder with the upside of an Earl Thomas. San Francisco’s plan to convert nickel cornerback Jimmie Ward to safety won’t stop it from adding Hooker, who is possibly the draft’s No. 2 overall prospect.

3. Chicago Bears (Zach) – Solomon Thomas, DL, Stanford 

Dallas’ bold pick left my Bears with a golden opportunity. The Bears could go safety or cornerback in this scenario, but the talent of Thomas is too good to pass up. Thomas can be used on both the inside and outside of the Bears’ defensive line and I see him as one of the safest talents on the board.

4. Jacksonville Jaguars (Dallas) – Gareon Conley, CB, Ohio State

No, we didn’t forget the Jaguars used a top-five pick on Jalen Ramsey in 2016 and then handed a $67.5MM contract to A.J. Bouye in free agency last month. But one of Ramsey’s key selling points last year was his versatility: while he’s a shutdown corner at his best, Ramsey can man the slot, cover tight ends, and dabble at safety. As such, adding Conley doesn’t mean Jacksonville is facing cornerback overload, especially given that NFL clubs are in the nickel more than two-thirds of the time. Conley is viewed as a safer prospect than his Ohio State teammate Marshon Lattimore, and he’d give the Jaguars a Broncos-like secondary.

5. Tennessee Titans (Zach) – Marshon Lattimore, CB, Ohio State

The Titans, arguably, get the best cornerback available in the draft even though they are the second team to address the position. No, we don’t have a ton of film to go on for Lattimore, but his combine numbers indicate that he could be a megastar. Few teams in the NFL would have a young cornerback duo like the Titans if they can pair Logan Ryan with Lattimore.Mitch Trubisky Instagram

6. Cleveland Browns (projected trade with Jets) (Dallas) – Mitch Trubisky, QB, North Carolina

In need of a franchise quarterback, the Browns send the No. 12 and No. 52 pick to the Jets in exchange for No. 6 with the intention of drafting Trubisky. It’s a slight overpay for Cleveland (at least, based on Chase Stuart of Football Perspective‘s draft value chart, which is likely what the Browns front offices uses), but it does the deal anyway to land a long-term option under center. Given that Browns owner Jimmy Haslam is reportedly pressing the club to select a quarterback early — and the fact the Cleveland may still be considering Trubisky with the first overall selection — landing the UNC signal-caller at No. 5 for the cost of a mid-second-round pick is a move the Browns can’t pass up.

7. Los Angeles Chargers (Zach) – Jonathan Allen, DL, Alabama

In this scenario, it seems like Allen’s subpar workouts have led to a bit of a drop. His size (6’3″) is a bit of a concern, but he has the ability to be an effective defensive end while spending some time on the inside as well. Allen would look great lining up on the opposite end of Joey Bosa.

8. Carolina Panthers (Dallas) – Corey Davis, WR, Western Michigan

Sitting at pick No. 8, the Panthers certainly have options. General manager Dave Gettleman & Co. could go after a running back like Leonard Fournette or Christian McCaffrey, bring in a young edge rusher to play alongside veterans like Charles Johnson and Julius Peppers, or even reach for an offensive tackle given Michael Oher‘s health questions. With Ted Ginn Jr. and Corey Brown having defected via free agency, the Panthers need another wideout to pair with Kelvin Benjamin. Enter Davis, who topped 1,400 yards and 12 touchdowns in each of the past three seasons.

9. Cincinnati Bengals (Zach) – Reuben Foster, LB, Alabama

Foster’s stock, by all accounts, is slipping after he turned in a diluted urine sample and got into an argument with a hospital worker at the combine. However, with other teams in the market for an inside linebacker (like the Jets at No. 12, for example), it would be somewhat risky to trade down into the teens and expect Foster to still be there. The Bengals have been willing to overlook character concerns in the past, so I see no reason why they can’t do the same here and land the Alabama star.

10. Buffalo Bills (Dallas) – Jamal Adams, S, LSU

While the Bills gave Jordan Poyer a four-year deal with $6MM in guarantees earlier this offseason, I’m still not convinced Buffalo views him as a definite starter. Those questions come to the forefront with Adams still on the board, and the Bills don’t hesitate to take the LSU defensive back. With ex-Packer Micah Hyde also in the fold, Buffalo can field one of the more diverse and flexible safety tandems in the league. Adams is viewed as a leader in the locker room, and has been favorably compared to former Cowboys All Pro Darren Woodson by Lance Zierlein of NFL.com.

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