After years of running strictly spread offenses, the Texas Longhorns remade their image into more of a run first offense with a pair of talented backs. Part of this has been due to the fact the Longhorns have not been able to find a quarterback to fill the big shoes left by Colt McCoy. As a result, their passing offense has not been as good as some of their talent at wide receiver suggests they should. Coming into this season, they have a talented senior wide out in Mike Davis, who is somewhat under the radar because of this transformation. As a junior, Davis only caught 57 passes 939 yards and 7 touchdowns. The Texas offense as a whole had 3,421 yards passing and 26 touchdowns.
Davis displays a lot of talent at the college level and appears to be capable of making a nice transition to the NFL. He has the speed and quickness to be effective while understanding how to run routes and create separation. Davis needs to continue to get more confident in his hands as well as put more effort into blocking and just work to get stronger as he works towards the NFL Draft. Entering the season, Davis projects as a fringe top 100 pick but he could be a player that makes a big move if he polishes his game and becomes a more physical player.
Vitals & Build
Davis is listed at 6’2” 193lbs is relatively lean. He is extremely quick and has good burst combined with nice long speed. Davis is not weak and has the frame to continue adding muscle. He is not overpowering but he is able to use the strength he has to get in position to make plays. If he can continue adding strength to his frame and come in bigger this season and continue to get stronger for the draft while maintaining his athleticism, he can really transform himself and add another element of power to his game.
Route Running & Technique
Davis’s stance is a little tall and there is a little bounce in his release but he comes off of the ball quickly. He accelerates well and is extremely savvy with the amount of moves he can do without getting bogged down in how he runs his routes. Davis is able to sell attacking deep to open up comeback routes or open up screens.
When he goes to run deeper routes, he really forces defensive backs to concentrate through his entire route. Later in the game when players are tired, this can have a big impact. One of the moves Davis will use is attacking a particular shoulder on the defender, usually the outside shoulder and then making a subtle step and head move to switch to the inside shoulder and potentially do it a third time to switch back again. The goal is for the corner to make one false step and Davis has him beat because of his ability to accelerate. What makes Davis effective is these steps are subtle enough where he does not really break stride to do it. Defensive backs have to really concentrate to get through the whole route and make the right read to cover Davis.
Davis is effective in part because he runs routes everywhere. He can attack deep, near the sideline, coming back and then going across the middle on drag type routes and do them all well and create separation.
Davis demonstrates he can have some nice hands, but they can be inconsistent and he can fall into some bad habits and let the ball into his body. He is able to go up and high point the ball at times with a good understanding of where he needs to position himself to give himself the best chance to catch the pass as well as being able to track the ball well going down the field. Davis can demonstrate a nice sized catch radius but it all depends on how he wants to catch the ball. When the ball is put on him, he will use his body to secure the catch at times rather than make the catch out of the air with his hands. This is especially the case on deep balls when he has space. Occasionally, he will drop passes which seems like a result that reinforces for him to use his body to make some catches.
Run After Catch
When Davis catches passes with his hands, he can make the transition to run after the catch extremely quickly. He is able to make quick moves to make opponents miss right after he catches the ball. Davis has good acceleration and is able to use subtle cuts to adjust his path without slowing down. He is willing to go into the middle of the field and try to gain extra yardage but Davis is not above going out of bounds near the sideline to avoid getting hit. Davis seems to be at his best making yards after the catch when he is down the field and can make a pair of defenders miss and get into the end zone. The fact he is able to make plays on screens or down the field makes him a difficult player to try to stop.
Davis gives away the play by how he comes off of the ball when he is going to block. He seems to come off of the ball a beat late consistently. Davis will try to get in the way but he looks like it physically pains him to block. He will at opponents, get muscled off of the block by defenders and leaves a lot to be desired in terms of effort and results.
Davis is best suited to play in a vertical offense that allows him to attack deep, use his speed to open up plays underneath and then use drag routes to open himself crossing the field. Certainly, Davis is a player that could make the transition to a more horizontal offense and has shown the ability to make catches and get extra yardage but it would not be quite as natural a transition. Davis seems like a player well suited to be a #2 receiver but he does have the potential to elevate himself into a low end #1 receiver.
|Sat. Aug 31||vs. New Mexico State|
|Sat, Sept. 7||at BYU|
|Sat, Sept. 14||vs. Ole Miss|
|Sat, Sept. 21||vs. Kansas State|
|Thu, Oct. 3||at Iowa State|
|Sat, Oct. 12||vs. Oklahoma|
|Sat, Oct. 26||at TCU|
|Sat, Nov. 2||vs. Kansas|
|Sat, Nov. 9||at West Virginia|
|Sat, Nov. 16||vs. Oklahoma State|
|Thu, Nov. 28||vs. Texas Tech|
|Sat, Dec. 7||at Baylor|
When the Longhorns play the Sooners for the Red River Rivalry, Davis could see a lot of Aaron Colvin. Colvin is physically talented but needs to take another step technique-wise this year and that is where Davis thrives, so he could have a lot of success. The following game in Fort Worth against TCU should be the biggest test Davis faces all year. Jason Verrett is a terrific corner and if Davis can play well against him, it will be a good day for the Longhorns and potentially for Davis’s stock. The last game of the year in Waco against Baylor is more of a showcase game for Davis than anything else. If the game plays out similarly as it did last year, it will be a score-a-thon and come down to who can put up more points. Davis caught 6 passes for 148 yards and a touchdown in the matchup last year.
Davis could be similar to Louis Murphy, currently of the New York Giants. Murphy came out of Florida as a speedy receiver that looked to have potential to be a nice contributor and he still might, but he ended up starting out his career with his first three years in Oakland. He showed flashes but there was little to no consistency from anyone on the Raiders, so it is not surprising he did not. After a throw away year in Carolina, Murphy, still only 26, is looking to get back on track with the Giants. Davis has an extremely similar physical make up to Murphy but is a more polished product. He should enter the NFL with a little more promise and upside but situation is a huge factor and getting picked by the right team makes a big difference as illustrated by Murphy.
Mike Davis is a somewhat underrated receiver because of the soul searching process that is going on in Austin. He has a lot of physical ability and shows more technical understanding and savvy for the position than he probably gets credit. His ability suggests he should have more production and should be given more opportunities to make plays. As a result, Davis might be someone who ends up making a big move in an All-Star game setting much like his teammate, Marquise Goodwin, did last year. Right now, Davis looks like a fringe top 100 pick but it seems like he is being held back slightly in the Longhorn offense and he is better than some might think. He has the potential to be a senior who moves up the board with more confidence in his hands, more physical strength, and an interest in being a better blocker.