With the NFL draft coming up, questions are being asked which college stars can translate their skillset into the NFL. you have just over a 50/50 chance of drafting a 5 year starting in the first round. This decreases to 31% if you want a pro bowler. If you want a player who will be named a pro bowler multiple times, you have a 17% chance of getting your player. And with today’s media being so influential, if a player who was drafted in the first round is dropped from the starting roster, they will be labeled a “failure” despite still plying their trade amongst an elite bunch. 3 wide receivers were taken inside the first 10 picks of the 2017 NFL draft, a feat that had not occurred since 2005. Let’s review all three player’s career thus far and determine if teams founder their five starter or “failure”.
Corey davis was selected at pick no. 5 by the Tennessee Titans in the 2017 NFL draft. At 6 foot 2 and over 200 pounds, Davis was seen as a dominant wide receiver. However, he has not been that in Tennessee thus far. It could be argued that he has had below par QBs or he has been be working in a run heavy offence but in truth, he has struggled to catch the ball. He caught for over 890 yards in 2018. In 2019, his numbers tumbles with Dacvis finishing the regular season with just over 600 yards. He was also outshone by rookie wide receiver A.J Brown who caught over 1,000 yards in his first season.
This is truly a make or break year for Davis in Tennesse. He is now entering the fourth year of his rookie contract and has provided Tennessee little encouragement to pick up his fifth year option. But during these little spells, he has looked impressive. That is why I have hopes for him to have a big year in 2020. With the emergence of A.J. Brown, the pressure may be off Davis, with defences more worried about Brown and, of coarse, Derrick Henry in the run game. He also needs to sort out his catch target to catch ratio because being the number 2 wide receiver in a run heavy offense does not offer much opportunity to shine.
Mike Williams was selected by the LA Chargers at pick no.7 in the 2017 NFL draft. His rookie season did not amount to the expectation that surrounded him though. He was injured for the majority of the season and finished with a mere 95 yards. In year two, he improved dramatically finishing the season with 600 yards and an impressive 10 receiving TDs and a rush TD. This was thanks to his use in the Redzone by the Chargers due to his size often leading to miss matches. His TDs numbers did reduce in 2019 (influenced by the return of Hunter Henry) but his receiving yards increased to allow him to register his first 1000 yard receiving season.
There is no doubt Williams figures are treading in the correct direction with the feeling a massive season just around corner. Particularly when you look at some of the spectacular catches he made last year. The biggest question here is who will be throwing the ball at the Chargers franchise next season. With Rivers on the way out, the relationship between Williams and his new QB could be crucial. Mind you, a 6 foot 4, 220lb experienced wide receiver is an asset to any quarterback. I am expecting big thing for Williams in his future career. This might be delayed by the chemistry that needs to established between him and his new QB though.
John Ross was selected at pick no. 9 by the Cincinnati Bengals. Ross set the NFL combine alight breaking the 40 yard dash record with a blistering 4.22 sec attempt. It was clear that he could be used in any team to stretch defences who would struggle to cover the backfield against his speed. But Ross has struggled to stay on the field to do this. He missed pretty much all of his rookie season through injury and half of the 2019 season. He had a poor 2018 seasons too. But 2019 was his best season to date, recording over 500 yards and 3 TDs. He even changed his jersey number from 15 to 11 before the season to symbolise a new start.
When he is healthy, he is a consistent threat. With the Bengals also have A.J. Green and Tyler Boyd, defences will struggle to contain all three. Throw in Joe Mixon at running back and the Bengals look to be building a solid roster all but in one crucial position; quarterback. Currently, it looks set that the Bengals will select Joe Burrow with the number 1 pick of the 2020 NFL draft. And if Burrow can transition to the NFL without too many hurdles, Ross will have a quarterback who is capable of throwing accurate deep balls. On the other side, Burrow’s arm strength is not jaw dropping by any means which might limit down field looks. I think John Ross will still turn into a star similar to Desean Jackson as long as he can stay on the field long enough for defences to lose him in down field coverage.
In my mind, there is hope for all three players to end up in the 31% who were selected in the first round and achieved pro bowl status. Infact, there is potential for all three to have multiple pro bowls. But let’s not jump the gun. Potential was never the issue. Performance on the field is. And this year, all three players need to prove they deserve the opportunity to be on that field.