USA TODAY Sports
It's that time of year again CSR. Prospects are diligently preparing themselves in training facilities across America in hopes that their efforts will lead to a peak performance at the NFL Combine and/or Pro Days. But before they perform off the field at these events, a select group will also get an opportunity to shine one more time on the field at the East-West Shrine Bowl(Jan. 19) and Senior Bowl(Jan. 26). Over the next couple of weeks, I will be profiling some of the invitees who I think the Panthers might have their eyes on. Why don't we just jump right in with a couple of teammates from ACC country who share the same position?
Before the 2012 college football season began, scouts would have told us that Marcus Davis was the only 2013 draft eligible receiver worth looking at in Blacksburg, Virginia. But they were resoundingly proved wrong by one Corey Fuller, who practically came out of nowhere. Let's take a closer look at each of these prospects in order to gain a better idea of what we might expect to see from these two former Virginia Tech Hokies when they take the field in the East-West Shrine Bowl, and beyond.
WR Marcus Davis
What stands out the most when I look at Marcus Davis' career college stats is the fact that, for the most part, his numbers increased in each of his four seasons while at Virginia Tech. However, as we all know, numbers alone will never give a complete picture of any prospect, and Marcus Davis proves this point as much as anybody.
Standing 6'4" and weighing in at a healthy 232 lbs, Davis couldn't have been much more physically imposing to opposing defensive backs. Most receivers his size rarely display elite speed, but Davis is an exception to this rule. Not only was he able to gain significant separation on a regular basis in college, but he also had excellent leaping ability at his disposal. Despite his exceptional size and athleticism, Davis didn't reach his full potential at Virginia Tech and, as a result, won't be considered on the first day of the NFL draft. Let me explain.
There were times during his career that Davis looked the part of a legitimate #1 NFL wide receiver when he would deftly snatch the ball out of the air at its highest point in traffic. However, Davis' also seemed to be his own worst enemy when he would lose focus at the most inopportune moments by dropping passes that hit him directly in the hands. Additionally, he's shown poor ball security by holding the ball too loosely away from his body. Furthermore, things got a bit ugly late in his senior season when coach Frank Beamer decided to send Davis a message by removing him from the starting lineup in two consecutive games because of his poor effort while blocking. To his credit, he did respond by playing well in his final few games as a Hokie.
While I wouldn't count on Davis' full potential being reached in the NFL, I would also be a fool to discount that possibility altogether. Furthermore, I would be remiss if I failed to mention the fact that his quarterback, Logan Thomas, didn't do Davis any favors with his own inconsistent play, and that cannot be easily quantified. Ultimately, Davis had a solid career, but it could have been so much more.
As it stands, I wouldn't hesitate to draft Davis in the 5th round based on his size-speed combination alone. He will, however, get 2nd/3rd round consideration if he shows well at the East-West Shrine Bowl game and the NFL combine. Admittedly, it's his teammate who intrigues me even more.
WR Marcus Davis Highlights
WR Corey Fuller
If you nothing about Corey Fuller, save his career stats while at Virginia Tech, you probably would come away with two main questions? Why are there no stats available from his freshman and sophomore seasons and how did he go from being an afterthought during his junior season to becoming a solid contributor during his senior season?
To answer the first question, Fuller's first two seasons in college were spent at the University of Kansas on a track scholarship. Soon after his sophomore season ended with the Jayhawks, the speedster decided to transfer to Virginia Tech in order to join their football team(which included his two brothers) as a walk on. After sitting out a year, per NCAA rules, Fuller never received much of a chance to showcase his talents during his junior season because he was buried on the depth chart behind four receivers, including Marcus Davis, D.J. Coles, and future NFLers Danny Coale(Cowboys) and Jarrett Boykin(Packers). He would only have one season to shine, and he certainly didn't waste that opportunity.
While the Hokies and Davis were struggling to find themselves throughout the 2012 season, the 6' 2, 196 lbs Fuller was coming to the realization that he had a gift, and the scouts took notice. Although he had very little time to learn many of the nuances of the wide receiver position before his senior season began, Fuller was still able to demonstrate many of the characteristics that would lead one to believe that he has a future as a professional receiver in the NFL. Unlike his counterpart, Fuller consistently displayed naturally soft hands and revealed the ability to run precise routes, a characteristic that usually takes more experience to perfect.
Perhaps the most intriguing part of Fuller's game is his speed, which he has in spades, and we aren't just talking straight line speed here. He shows elite quickness off the line of scrimmage, the ability to explode well in and out of cuts, the acceleration to full speed in just a few steps, and the vision to elude defenders in the open field.
I hesitate to use the word raw when I describe Corey Fuller's game because of how well he seems to have picked up many of the subtle details that encompass the traits of a legitimate starting NFL receiver. I haven't seen any projections of where Fuller might be drafted, but I have a feeling that he is going to stand out at the combine and move himself into some early second day consideration. As of right now, I would have no qualms about taking Fuller in the 4th round, but that could be too late.
One last note as it relates to the recent hiring of Dave Gettleman as General Manager. It wouldn't surprise me if the odds of drafting one of these two receivers went up ever so slightly due to his presence and influence over the next few months. Less than a year ago, the Giants, his former employer, drafted a couple of Hokies: RB David Wilson in the 1st round and CB Jayron Hosely in the 3rd round. You can be sure that Davis and Fuller will be on the Panthers radar more than ever with Gettlemen leading this process.
Now it's your turn CSR. Tell everyone what you think about Marcus Davis and Corey Fuller.
WR Corey Fuller Highlights
Who do you like more? Marcus Davis or Corey Fuller?
Marcus Davis (43 votes)
Corey Fuller (50 votes)
93 total votes