With all the pressing needs Cincinnati has, it would seem like taking receiver in the top 10 would be out of the question.
However, Corey Davis is the kind of receiver who can upgrade any passing game, including a Bengals offense that relies far too heavily on A.J. Green without much support from others.
And while spending a first-round pick on someone from Western Michigan of all places seems like a reach, Davis isn’t just a small-school receiver torching bad competition. As a true freshman in 2013, Davis set school freshman records with 67 grabs for 941 yards (14.0 avg.) to go with six touchdowns. As a sophomore in 2014, he had 78 catches for 1,408 yards (18.1 avg.) and 15 scores.
During his junior year in 2015, Davis had 90 catches for 1,436 yards (16.1 avg.) and 12 scores. He had the chance to go pro and be drafted, but he wanted to come back and boost his stock enough to be a first-round selection, which he is now all but guaranteed of accomplishing.
This past season, Davis caught 97 balls for 1,500 yards (15.9 avg.) and 19 more scores. Against Toledo on Nov. 25, Davis became the all-time FBS leader in receiving yards. Putting up these kinds of numbers on any level of college football is impressive, and Davis is someone the Bengals should take a hard look at in this week’s draft.
Here is why the Bengals should take Davis with the No. 9 pick:
- Davis is the most completely receiver in this draft, and he would give this offense a big shot in the arm after it took a step back last year.
- Davis is the superior route runner to Mike Williams and John Ross, two other receivers getting hype for top-10 selections.
- It's no secret that Andy Dalton is one of the weaker-armed starting quarterbacks in the NFL, and he needs guys who can win in the short-to-intermediate routes, which is where Davis does his damage.
- Brandon LaFell is not the long-term answer as the No. 2 receiver, something Davis would quickly become.
- Davis is also great winning 50-50 balls, something this receiver group needs more of other than Green.
- It's possible Davis is the best player available when Cincinnati goes on the clock, and the BPA approach is often the right one.
Here is why the Bengals should pass on Davis:
- The Bengals have far more pressing needs than another receiver, especially this high.
- LaFell, Tyler Boyd and Cody Core showed they can be reliable options next to Green, so there's no need for Davis.
- that’s not even accounting for Tyler Eifert, who is like a No. 2/3 receiver in this offense, making it even harder for Davis to have a big role.
- The one thing this receiver group could use is more speed, but Davis doesn't offer that anymore than what’s already there.
- Davis is also recovering from ankle surgery that could limit his availability in OTAs and training camp.
- He’s had nagging injuries throughout his career, and it's not like the Bengals have great luck with banged-up players coming into the NFL either.
- This draft has enough quality wide receivers that the Bengals can get a good contributor in Rounds 2-3, and in this offense, it’s hard for any receiver to be anything more than a ‘good contributor’ when playing second fiddle to Green.
In the end, Davis is a nice player worthy of a top-10 pick, but he just doesn't move the needle with this Bengals team as much as other guys at this pick would.