Many Titans fans expected Corey Davis to pick up the slack in Rishard Matthew’s absence, but these expectations might be unrealistic.
In the 2017 NFL draft, the Tennessee Titans spent a franchise-altering fifth overall pick to select WR Corey Davis out of Western Michigan. The fifth overall pick holds so much value and it is of the utmost importance that a front office hits on these marquee selections. In the last few drafts, the No. 5 overall selection has yielded Jalen Ramsey, Brandon Scherff, and Khalil Mack, all of who have developed into cornerstones at their respective positions. A Titans team that needed to become more dynamic on the outside at WR can only hope that Davis develops into a player of their caliber and provides the team and Marcus Mariota with a play-making receiver.
Coming out of college, Davis set the all-time NCAA yardage record with 5278 yards from scrimmage during his four years at Western Michigan, along with 52 touchdowns. Prior to the draft, Lance Zierlein had this to say of Davis:
"Touchdown juggernaut who was a four-year model of production and consistency in college. Davis has the route-running and ball skills to become a starter in the league, but it is his competitiveness and production in the red-zone that should make him a good one."
The Titans hope that his unique size, speed, and route-running combination would provide a new dimension to the offense and provide another red zone specialist outside of Delanie Walker. Up to this point in the season, Davis has missed a lot of time due to injury, but has shown several flashes that show his overwhelming potential, especially with a few great contested and sideline catches that no other receiver on the roster is capable of.
Based on these flashes and an injury that has sidelined Rishard Matthews, many Titans fans expected Davis to take the next step towards superstardom, but he has only managed six catches for 51 yards in the two games without Matthews. Although some Titans fans may have been disappointed with his recent production, or lack thereof, it’s very important to keep in mind Davis’ offseason and in-season struggles. Davis dealt with injuries since the beginning of 2017 that caused him to miss the NFL Combine, OTAs, the preseason, and almost half of the regular season.
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Without this valuable time necessary to get up to speed with the NFL–condition, run plays, develop a rapport with their QB, and gain experience in the preseason–any rookie wide receiver will struggle. These struggles will be further enhanced when a player is making the jump from a non-Power 5 conference like the MAC to the NFL. A great comparison would be the struggles of Carson Wentz in his first season after making a similar jump from the Missouri Valley Football conference, but Wentz has since adjusted to this higher level of competition and is firmly in the MVP conversation during his sophomore season.
Titans fans need to keep this in mind, that Davis missed this invaluable time to adjust to the NFL and should therefore experience some growing pains. Corey Davis has all of the physical and technical ability to succeed and thrive in the NFL, but to expect immediate dominance in a run-first offense against opposing No. 1 cornerbacks is unreasonable at this point in his young career. Hopefully, he can find a groove heading into the playoffs and become more involved as the season goes on to open up the offense even further.