DynastyFootball

A Tale of Two Beasts (Part II – Marcus Davis)

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In Part I of the series I examined the upside potential of Rutgers wide receiver Mark Harrison, whose Physical Score ranks 2nd among 2013 pass-catchers.  (If you’re wondering who the 1st is, check him out here).  Despite the eye-popping measurables, Harrison’s college stats don’t scream NFL success.

While he was efficient at converting his red zone targets into points, his low market share of Rutgers’ passing yards and passing touchdowns suggests he just wasn’t that dominant a player in college and therefore probably won’t find much more success in pro football.  From a “highest upside” perspective, Harrison probably won’t give you the best bang for your buck.

Virginia Tech’s Marcus Davis, on the other hand, is an entirely different story.  Davis may not hold either of the best Physical Scores this year, but he is still pretty beastly in his own right.  His 3.75 Physical Score puts him in the 95th percentile of all measured wide receivers since 2000.  To put that in further context, check out the Physical Scores of some studly WRs we all know and love:

Name

Physical Score

Percentile

Calvin Johnson

7.25

99th

Julio Jones

4.36

98th

Larry Fitzgerald

3.34

95th

Brandon Marshall

3.08

94th

Dez Bryant

2.94

93rd

 That list is admittedly a bit cherry-picked with the most successful of the Physical Score elite, but hey, I warned you this was a series about upside.  It’s pretty clear from the work of the writers here at RotoViz that on top of a receiver’s physical profile, you need to add normalized college production and, to some degree, draft order in order to best project his success in the NFL.

For my projection of the upside these probable late-round fliers possess, I decided to look at 15 NFL players who finished at least one season as a top 60 WR and had similar college seasons (with respect to Dominator Rating and YPR) to my subjects.  I explain my methodology and the results of the model on some other current NFL receivers in Part I.  Ultimately, I use the average NFL Best Rank (NBR) of the comparable players to get an upside projection.  Cutting straight to the chase, here are Davis’ comparables using my model: 

Player

Year

School

Rec

Yds

TD

YPR

DR

NFL Best Rank

Marcus Davis

2012

Virginia Tech

51

953

5

18.7

0.30

Davis Comp Avg

   

52.1

900.7

8.4

17.3

0.30

12.7

Bryant Johnson

2002

Penn State

48

917

4

19.1

0.30

40

Steve Johnson

2007

Kentucky

60

1041

13

17.4

0.30

10

Bernard Berrian

2001

Fresno State

76

1270

13

16.7

0.30

18

Jabar Gaffney

2001

Florida

67

1191

13

17.8

0.28

26

Javon Walker

2001

Florida State

45

944

7

21.0

0.30

2

A.J. Green

2008

Georgia

56

963

8

17.2

0.28

4

Jerricho Cotchery

2003

North Carolina State

86

1369

10

15.9

0.29

23

Andre Johnson

2002

Miami (FL)

52

1092

9

21.0

0.28

1

Santonio Holmes

2003

Ohio State

32

549

7

17.2

0.28

15

Eric Decker

2009

Minnesota

50

758

5

15.2

0.30

8

Desean Jackson

2005

California

38

601

7

15.8

0.29

4

Reggie Wayne

2000

Miami (FL)

43

755

10

17.6

0.32

3

Darrius Heyward-Bey

2006

Maryland

45

694

5

15.4

0.30

28

T.J. Houshmandzadeh

2000

Oregon State

42

656

6

15.6

0.31

7

Dwayne Bowe

2005

Louisiana State

41

710

9

17.3

0.33

2

 If you recall from the last post: “For the NFL Best Rank average, generally anything in the teens and lower is pretty good. Anything over 25 is not a good sign.”  It’s as simple as this: Davis’ 12.7 average NBR is downright ridiculous.  While his raw DR is good-not-great at .30, when you combine it with the explosiveness that his upper-echelon 18.7 YPR indicates, and then heap on his 95th percentile Physical Score, you have a recipe for massive upside.  The Average NBR of most other high-end WR1s in the NFL are only in the mid teens…Davis is a standout on this metric.

Before you break out the Jump to Conclusions Mat, I’m not suggesting you select Davis with the 1.01 this year.  I am trying to highlight that between his physical attributes and his college production, he has just about as much upside as anyone in this draft class.  Of course, like any other player, he also has plenty of downside.  There are much safer picks to be made in the earlier rounds of your rookie drafts – guys with far more dominant college production and guys who will get drafted much higher than Davis is likely to.  But if it’s upside potential on minimal draft capital you’re looking for…look no further.

For sanity purposes, I like to cross check the historical efficiency of the subject player’s offense to see if perhaps their numbers were the product of an outlier type season.  When measured against all college seasons from 2000 to 2012 here’s how VT’s aerial attack ranked:

Virginia Tech 2012

Value

Percentile

Attempts Per Game

33.6

64th

Yards Per Game

230.9

59th

Completion %

51.3

14th

Yards Per Attempt

6.87

44th

Yards Per Completion

13.4

79th

 

A little above average in the attempts per game department, but nothing crazy.  Average on a yards per game and yards per attempt basis.  But it’s pretty interesting that you see the “big play” ability of the VT receivers in the significantly low completion percentage, but significantly high Yards per Completion.  They weren’t successful very often when they threw, but when they hit they hit it big, thanks in part to one Marcus Davis and his 18.7 YPC.

Now, Davis certainly has his warts.  Deadspin.com thought so little of his (lack of) effort as a run blocker that they took the time to put together this blog post.  It’s a theme that runs through many of the scouting reports you’ll find on the internet and something he will absolutely have to work on if he plans to make a living on an NFL roster.  A couple more “wisdom of crowds” knocks on Davis are the obligatory “concentration lapses” and “lacks polish” criticisms.  Sure, some of those observations might be grounded in fact, but aren’t those problems ultimately fixable if Davis has competent coaches?  Like I said in Part I – you can’t teach fast.

Even though we know the Algorithm beats the Scouting Model 60% of the time…it’s still nice when a respected NFL draft analyst like Dane Brugler compares your flier WR prospect crush to Dez Bryant:

“Davis looks the part with a tall, bulky frame and the explosive athleticism to create with the ball in his hands, flashing a skill set that is very similar to Dez Bryant.”

I’ll leave you with a great high-level piece by Bleacher Report entitled “Why Virginia Tech’s Marcus Davis Is the Perfect Late-Round Steal”, which I think takes on a lot more meaning once you know that Davis’ numbers support the idea that he has massive upside.

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By Ryan Rouillard | @ryanrouillard | Archive

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