Dynasty

Dynasty Watch: Corey Davis is the Wide Receiver Wunderkind

rsz_corey_davis_wunderkind

wun·der·kind
ˈwo͝ondərˌkind/
noun
  1. a person who achieves great success when relatively young.

Corey Davis is the wide receiver wunderkind. To say that he has achieved great success at a relatively young age would be an understatement. No, Corey Davis has done things in his first two years at Western Michigan that few, if any, Football Bowl Series (FBS) receivers have accomplished in the last decade. With at least one more year until he can declare for the NFL Draft, it’s time to welcome Corey Davis to the conversation of best receivers in recent college football history.

If you’re late to the party, I established last spring that age-adjusted production matters in predicting future success of wide receiver prospects. So, when we talk about Corey Davis, who played the 2014 season at age 19, there’s a lot to be said for what he has accomplished in his time in Kalamazoo. Let’s take a look at three of the unbelievable feats of Corey Davis’ young career.

Corey Davis has dominated his team’s receiving yards

Based on my research, one of the most important on-field stats for a receiver is the percentage of receiving yards they account for relative to their passing offense. For the talented Mr. Davis, in both his age 18 and age 19 season, he has gone over 35 percent market share of Western Michigan’s receiving yards. For reference, only 26 FBS receivers since 2005 have accomplished that feat before their age-20 season. Corey Davis has done it twice, joining fellow Phenom, Marquess Wilson, as the only players to do so in that time frame. Check out the table below for a complete list of players to go over 35 percent market share of yards before their age 20 season. Note that a few FCS (“division 1AA” or lower) players are on this list and a few select players from before 2005.

TRGNAMESCHOOLYearSEAS AgemsYDSRC Yds
PIERRE GARÇONNorwich200418.4051.31017
SIDNEY RICESouth Carolina200519.3348.91143
ALBERT WILSONGeorgia State201119.4747.5772
EARL BENNETTVanderbilt200619.7847.41146
ERIC PAGEToledo201019.2742.91105
MICHAEL JENKINSOhio State200119.5442.5836
KEENAN ALLENCalifornia201119.6841.91343
COREY DAVISWestern Michigan201419.9743.41408
KEEVAN LUCASTulsa201419.7340.21219
COREY DAVISWestern Michigan201318.9739.7941
STEFON DIGGSMaryland201219.0939.6848
DANTE RIDGEWAYBall State200319.739.41075
TY HILTONFlorida International200819.1338.71013
JULIO JONESAlabama200819.9138.6924
JASON HILLWashington State200419.8638.01007
KENNY BRITTRutgers200719.2837.31232
JACK TOMLINSONBall State201018.837.0484
DEVIER POSEYOhio State200919.836.8828
JORDAN MATTHEWSVanderbilt201119.4636.7778
ROBERT WOODSUSC201119.7236.61292
TAJAE SHARPEMassachusetts201319.0236.2680
LARRY FITZGERALDPittsburgh200219.3335.91005
DARVIN ADAMSAuburn200919.9935.9997
MARQUESS WILSONWashington State201119.2935.91388
DAESEAN HAMILTONPenn State201419.8135.8848
PIERRE GARÇONMt. Union200519.4035.61196
DERRICK SMITHLouisiana-Lafayette200619.9535.5551
DEANDRE BROWNSouthern Mississippi200819.2235.41117
DEONTAY GREENBERRYHouston201319.8235.41202
DEZMON BRISCOEKansas200819.3335.41407
HAKEEM NICKSNorth Carolina200719.9635.3958
MARQUESS WILSONWashington State201018.2935.11006
BIG MIKE WILLIAMSUSC200319.9935.01314

A quick look through this list would reveal a number of quality NFL receivers like Larry Fitzgerald, Julio Jones, Pierre Garçon, Keenan Allen, Hakeem Nicks and TY Hilton. Of the guys who never amounted to anything in the league, they typically had lower yardage totals (under 750) but had a high share due to their anemic passing offense. If you read my most precocious college receiver seasons of the decade article, this crew should look pretty familiar. Might I remind you that Corey’s 2013 season appears at #6 on that list and his 2014 will rank very highly once I make the update to include 2014 performances.

Corey Davis has dominated his team’s receiving touchdowns

More than just yardage, Davis has been largely responsible for Western Michigan’s aerial strikes over his first two seasons. Looking again at player performances before their age-20 season, Corey Davis has twice accounted for 50 percent or more of his team’s passing touchdowns. He is the only player of the past decade to accomplish this feat (minimum 30 targets).

TRGNAMESCHOOLYearSEAS AgemsTDRC TD
SIDNEY RICESouth Carolina200519.3372.213
PIERRE GARÇONNorwich200418.4068.413
ROB GRONKOWSKIArizona200819.7266.710
DERRICK SMITHLouisiana-Lafayette200518.9566.72
KEEVAN LUCASTulsa201419.7366.711
ERON RILEYDuke200518.4166.72
JASON HILLWashington State200419.8660.012
COREY DAVISWestern Michigan201419.9757.715
JORDAN MATTHEWSVanderbilt201018.4657.14
AARON DOBSONMarshall200918.5557.14
GERALD JONESTennessee200819.2357.14
TIQUAN UNDERWOODRutgers200619.8757.14
LARRY FITZGERALDPittsburgh200219.3354.512
COREY DAVISWestern Michigan201318.9754.56
MARCUS MONKArkansas200519.6853.87
DEANDRE BROWNSouthern Mississippi200819.2252.212
DWAYNE JARRETTUSC200519.350.016
KEVIN OGLETREEVirginia200619.4150.04
LEONTE CARROORutgers201319.9350.09
DEON BUTLERPenn State200519.9950.09
RANDALL COBBKentucky200818.3650.02

To be clear, I think market share of receiving yards is much more important, and the statistical models agree with me, but that doesn’t make this performance any less impressive. Corey Davis is the Broncos’ best touchdown threat and everyone knows it, but he is so talented that opponents can’t do anything about it.

Corey Davis has elite raw production

Probably the most amazing thing to me is that Corey Davis has accumulated so much raw production at such a young age. In fact, over the last decade, only Davis and Robert Woods have accounted for 2,000+ receiving yards and 20+ touchdowns before their age-20 season. Big Mike Williams from USC did it too, but he was from the 2002 & 2003 seasons, from which I have incomplete data. Click through the list to see all players who had 1,000+ yards before their age-20 season, noting that a large number of the best young pass-catchers in the NFL (and prospects, like Amari Cooper) are on this list. Oh and Corey’s brother, Titus Davis, is on this list too! How’s that for good genes?

WRYdsTDLast season under 20
BIG MIKE WILLIAMS2579302003
MARQUESS WILSON2394182011
COREY DAVIS2349212014
ERIC PAGE2264152010
ROBERT WOODS2084212011
EARL BENNETT2022152006
SAMMY WATKINS1927152012
DEZMON BRISCOE1903222008
KEENAN ALLEN1833112011
DEONTAY GREENBERRY1771142013
AMARI COOPER1736152013
KENNY BRITT1672102007
KEEVAN LUCAS1661122014
KENNY STILLS1635132011
HAKEEM NICKS161892007
DEANDRE HOPKINS161592011
TITUS DAVIS1611162012
BRANDIN COOKS154282012
JALEN SAUNDERS1527152011
CHRIS WILLIAMS1522122006
QUINSHAD DAVIS1506152013
DONTE MONCRIEF1433142012
MIKE THOMAS136872006
PERCY HARVIN128562007
DWAYNE JARRETT1274162005
BRIGGS ORSBON127462009
LAQUON TREADWELL1240102014
JAMISON CROWDER123792012
RICHARD SHERMAN123272007
JERREL JERNIGAN120582008
JEFF FULLER1198162009
ROB GRONKOWSKI1197162008
KENNY MCKINLEY117162006
JERMAINE KEARSE1167102009
GREG CHILDS116792009
SIDNEY RICE1143132005
JAELEN STRONG112272013
DEANDRE BROWN1117122008
PHILLIP LIVAS111152011
DAMARLO BELCHER110772009
MIKE EVANS110552012
JONNU SMITH1098102014
PHILLIP PAYNE1097142009
MIKE DAVIS108732011
DEREK HAGAN107692003
DANTE RIDGEWAY1075102003
PAUL RICHARDSON1069112011
ALBERT WILSON106682011
JEREMY MACLIN105592007
AARON DOBSON105192010
JORDAN WILLIAMS1050102013
ALLEN ROBINSON1047112012
DEVANTE PARKER1035162012
BRAYLON EDWARDS1035102002
JD MCKISSIC102252012
DARVIN ADAMS1015102009
TY HILTON101372008
JASON HILL1007122004
LARRY FITZGERALD1005122002
ANTONIO BROWN100362007

For some more perspective on Davis’ dominance, consider that in 13 of his last 18 games played he has at least 90 receiving yards. Even more impressively, consider that Davis has caught at least one touchdown in 14 of his last 17 games. That kind of touchdown dominance reminds me of when Larry Fitzgerald scored a TD in 18 of his last 20 college games, or when Dez Bryant caught 25 of Oklahoma State’s 33 touchdowns over the last 17 games of his career. All of them are RIDICULOUS!

Hopefully you caught Davis’ 8-176-3 outburst at the Potato Bowl. If not, there aren’t many YouTube breakdowns of Davis, but check him out here, as an 18 year old in his first collegiate game, going up against Michigan State and eventual first-round pick Darqueze Dennard, who is 3+ years older than Davis. He ended up with 8-96-1 that game, which was the single best receiving performance against the 2013-14 Rose Bowl champs.

Regardless of what Corey Davis’ NFL future holds, the bottom line is that what he has accomplished in two years is virtually unprecedented. Even when these smaller-school prodigies do come along, we usually don’t catch them until after the fact. Knowing about Davis this early means it will be a treat to watch him evolve in 2015 and I look forward to seeing him face off against Michigan State and Ohio State in non-conference games.


Jon Moore is a contributor at RotoViz and a cohost of Rotoviz Radio – A Football Podcast.  Continue this conversation with him on Twitter or Google+.

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