Saturday, April 4, 2009

Player Profile: Vontae Davis Illinois CB

Pros: Davis plays corner with the body of a power running back and the speed of a scat back. He shows unbelievable quickness filling on runs and has great recovery speed. He is a tough physical player that never shies away from a big hit opportunity. The DC Native plays the game with good leverage and turns smoothly with no loss of speed. Davis is very hard for receivers to block—he could be the most physically gifted player in the entire cornerback class. Durability is a plus, as he did not miss time due to injury throughout his three-year career.

Cons: Despite his exceptional talent, Davis is not a huge playmaker. If he were the playmaker Alphonso Smith, Macho Harris or DJ Moore was, he would be a top-five overall pick. In addition, he makes too many mental mistakes. Davis often jumps short routes and flies up on play action, giving up plays over the top. He does not play with a good knowledge of the game and is often overconfident in his ability. He looks stiff at times and needs to learn to accept advice from the coaching staff. We did not see the progress one would hope to see from his sophomore to junior seasons, particularly for a player who decided to forgo his final season of college football. Was called out because of his underachieving junior campaign.

Scouts Take: Vontae Davis is like his older brother (Vernon Davis) in both good and bad ways. Both are unbelievable athletes that make the game look extremely easy at times. With great strength and speed, both can overmatch most of their opponents. Unfortunately, both have relied on their natural ability too often—that works at the high school level and to some extent even college, but now they must learn to take direction and stick to their responsibilities or they will be nothing more than average players, with physical tools most players only dream of. The former Fighting Illini flashed his unbelievable speed in the 2007 Rose Bowl—he was a good 10 to 15 yards behind the speedy USC tailback Joe McKnight when McKnight broke free on a screen. It looked like an easy USC touchdown, but Davis flew into the picture and snatched McKnight down. The play still resulted in a huge gain but it showed that Davis has the ability to make plays no one else on the field can make. When focused and driven, the sky is the limit for the Illinois’ product. There is no question the physical tools are there, but he must work on the mental part of the game if he wants to be an NFL star. Despite his mental weaknesses at times, Davis will be a first round pick and possibly the first corner off the board. Davis is the definition of a “Boom or Bust” prospect.

Photo Credit: Illinois Sports Information