By Chris Emma–
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (CBS) — The skepticism is nothing new for Corey Davis.
Even on this grand stage, as a top receiving prospect in this draft class, he’s still being doubted. Davis caught 187 passes and hauled in 31 touchdowns the last two seasons, but he did so in the Mid-American Conference.
MACtion doesn’t mean much to NFL scouts, who are left evaluating the Western Michigan product’s body of work differently than Clemson star Mike Williams.
“I believe that’s the biggest question, just the level of competition,” Davis said Friday at the NFL Combine. “I know a lot of scouts and a lot of other players think that my level of competition wasn’t really that serious just being from the MAC. But I feel like I can play with the best of them. My confidence is up there. I’m not afraid to go up against anyone.”
A standout at Wheaton Warrenville South, Davis earned just one scholarship offer coming out of high school. His grade point average and ACT score scared away college coaches from his high potential, but P.J. Fleck was willing to take a chance.
In four years, the 6-foot-3, 213-pound Davis would compile more receiving yards than any player in FBS history. Western Michigan went unbeaten in the regular season and earned a trip to the Cotton Bowl this past season, with Davis becoming a star in the process.
Now he’s at the NFL Combine as arguably the top receiver in this draft class.
“I always knew this was a dream and goal of mine,” Davis said. “But as far as me being a top, top receiver, projected first round, I couldn’t have imagined it.”
At the combine, evaluators can be tough. They’ll look past the receiving records and go right to the flaws. Many will wonder why Davis wasn’t more coveted by more colleges, how his football IQ translates to the next level and, of course, whether his performance in the MAC was a fluke.
Adding to the concerns, Davis is coming off January ankle surgery to repair two tendons. He won’t run at the combine or his pro day. His chance to show natural talent is gone. Davis hopes he can be ready by April, but he’ll only have time a handful of pre-draft workouts by that point.
Though there’s plenty to like about what Davis can be, there are also many question marks. It’s a deep receiver class, with a potential star like Williams and some other players like Zay Jones and Cooper Kupp from small schools.
Teams like the Bears could be lining up for Davis if he can prove the doubts wrong and shine as a top receiver in this class, but the critics are out in full force this week at the combine.
Davis is plenty used to the skepticism. It’s all motivation.
“I’ve always had that chip on my shoulder,” Davis said. “I’ve always worked like I’m the best guy in the county. That’s the approach I took.”