Undrafted Free Agent Spotlight: Marcus Davis

This week, John Idzik made it clear that the Jets would look to field roster spots this season through undrafted rookie free agents.  Former Virginia Tech WR Marcus Davis went undrafted, and was cut less than a month after signing with the Giants.  Even so, in putting in a waiver claim the Jets got a physically gifted player to add to the competition at one of the team’s depth-challenged units … we’ll take a look at Davis in this post.

davis

WR Marcus Davis

Height: 6’3″ Weight: 233 LBS
Hands: 10 1/4″ Arm Length: 32 3/4″
40 Yard Dash: 4.56 Bench: 19 reps
Vertical Jump: 39.5″ Broad Jump: 120.0″

BIOGRAPHY: Davis was a high school quarterback and receiver and he played both spots during his freshman year in Blacksburg. Rather than sit behind Tyrod Taylor, Davis then moved from quarterback to receiver duiring that season and a right shoulder injury during preseason practices forced Davis to redshirt 2008.  Davis then only managed only five catches for 125 yards in 2009, including an 80-yard touchdown against Boston College.  Davis’ role grew in 2010, starting two games and catching 19 passes for 239 yards and two TDs.  In 2011, Davis then started eight games   while missing significant time in two games with a sprained right foot.  Davis ended third on the team in receiving (30-510, 5 TD) that year behind Danny Coale and Jarrett Boykin.  As a senior, Davis led the Hokies with 51 catches for 953 yards and five scores.

STRENGTHS: Big frame with the perfect length and body mass.  Davis has deceptively quick feet and burst to evade press at the line, but with active hands to shed the jam as well as the size to untangle.  Gets up to speed quickly and his workouts show good flexibility to change direction on sharp routes. Davis uses his hands well to shed the jam and also to pluck the ball out of the air.  Has good vision to locate the ball and use his body to position himself and shield defenders from the catch. Good at “high-pointing” the ball with excellent size and vertical.  

WEAKNESSES:  In short, Davis needs to be more aggressive against defenders and polished in his technique.  Davis has a tendency to round off his routes too frequently. Davis also needs to use his size to better fight for position and to get physical with defenders for the ball in the air.  There were some communication issues with his quarterback in college and he also had some concentration lapses (turning upfield before securing the ball).  While he has the skill to pluck the ball out of the air, he often traps the ball against his chest.  Davis has also been noted for not using his size to be as aggressive in the run-blocking game.

OVERVIEW:  Davis was called by NYJetsDraft.com one of the “most  underrated receiving prospects” in the country and some analysts had him as a middle round prospect early in the draft process.  The Virginia Tech offense was stagnant and inconsistent due to poor quarterback play in 2012 and most of his career, Davis played behind  Danny Coale and Jarrett Boykin; it was only as a senior that Davis had a chance to stand out.  Davis then led Tech with 51 catches for 953 receiving yards and five TDs as a senior in 2012.

Davis was expected to be a Day Three prospect, but it wasn’t until after the draft ended that he had his chance.  Davis made the decision to sign with the Giants.

It is concernning that a prospect like Davis would go undrafted.  A player in the ACC who had a productive senior season and has all the measurables to fit in the NFL wouldn’t normally fall as he did.  There are some theories about why he went undrafted, and his hometown newspaper  the Virginian-Pilot offered some of them.

Davis […] still doesn’t know all the reasons that led to him not being selected, although there were numerous theories — from the receivers’ lackluster blocking last year to his agent’s relationship with NFL teams to concerns about a shoulder injury from five years ago.

CONCLUSION: The Jets are short at wide receiver and therefore need to be creative about how they fill out their roster.  There’s no downside to picking up a player like Davis.  The Jets might quickly analyze Davis and toss him as the Giants did, but I highly doubt it.  6’4″ 232 pound receivers with 4.5 40 yard dash speed who can bench 225 19 times don’t grow on trees, and the Jets have the right receivers coach can work with this sort of player.  Sanjay Lal worked hard to focus DHB in Oakland and used that experience to help him in equipping Stephen Hill (a player CBS Sports compared Davis to) and so that model could work again with another freakishly gifted player who needs serious technique refinement.  At his size, the argument might be made that the Jets could consider bulking him up and moving him to H-Back / Tight End … it’s an inventive thought, but my initial reaction is that a player who doesn’t already have the aggression to play receiver at his current size would get eaten alive by defensive ends and linebackers.

Davis is going to have to work hard to improve his technique, but he appears to have all the physical tools with which to work.  Under Tannenbaum, this is a player that the Jets would likely try and give every benefit of the doubt and who they would do their best to stow on the roster somehow, to give him the time they need to develop.  We’ll have to see how Idzik handles the matter, but if in fact there are injury concerns, then the Jets might see 2013 as a sort of redshirt season for Davis.




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