One of the more unheralded pass catchers in a deep receiver class, former Texas wide receiver Devin Duvernay has a clean profile on paper and received a Senior Bowl invitation because of it. A prolific senior season earned the Longhorn state native a combine invite, where he confirmed his speed with a 4.39 40-yard dash. Let’s learn a little more about the former track star who is soon to be the first Texas Longhorn to be drafted since 2013.
- Position: Wide receiver
- School: Texas
- Year: Senior
- Date of Birth: 9/12/1997
- 2016: 10 games, 20 catches, 412 yards, 3 touchdowns
- 2017: 8 games, 9 receptions, 124 yards, 0 touchdowns
- 2018: 14 games, 41 catches, 546 yards, 4 touchdowns
- 2019: 13 games, 106 catches, 1,386 yards, 13 touchdowns
- Best Single Season: 2019 (36.85% passing yardage market share)
- Height: 5’10 1/2”
- Weight: 200
- Arm: 30 5/8”
- Hand: 9 1/2”
Density-Based Athleticism Scores (per James Cobern’s data)
- Explosion: 68.41st percentile (35.5” Vertical Jump, 123” Broad Jump)
- Speed: 90.41st percentile (4.39 40-Yard Dash)
- Flexibility: 64.53rd percentile (7.13 3-Cone Drill, 4.2 Short Shuttle)
What he does well
It’s a good thing that Duvernay’s hands are reliable (just five drops on 180 catchable targets in his career per Pro Football Focus) because he’s at his best with the ball in his hands. Duvernay has a stocky build to him that makes him tough to bring down at times. He forced 23 missed tackles in 2019 alone, though he got ample opportunity to do so. Exactly 40% of his catches last year where screens, but this allowed him to be his most productive self.
You don’t rack up over 36% of your team’s passing yards just from passes behind the line of scrimmage, though. Duvernay succeeded more often than not as a vertical option from the slot, where he took 97% of his snaps. On throws of 20 yards or more, he racked up 12 for 432 yards, both are in the upper echelon of all receivers from last year. What’s encouraging is that he was able to showcase strength in his routes and at the catch-point. PFF charted him with eight contested catches on 11 opportunities more than 10 yards down the field.
This was his first season as a full-time slot receiver, and it’s obvious that it suits him. The slot is where he’ll win in the NFL, where he can be a run-after-the-catch weapon who’s able to work as an underneath possession option that can occasionally run the slot fade.
Where he’s more limited
The 4.39 40 is great, but track athletes usually end up running fast in that setting. Duvernay’s history running relay in high school helped him in Indianapolis, but it doesn’t show as much on the field. He doesn’t stack slot corners and safeties on vertical routes as well as you’d want. Change of direction might be an issue when creating separation in the NFL as well, he’s not the most sudden athlete and could learn to sell his breaks a lot better.
The skewed production towards screen passes has been documented, but this usage also led to Texas hiding him press coverage a lot. As a future slot receiver, this won’t be too big of an issue, but it’s a notable limitation based on projection. You just don’t trust him to get open on the outside, and if you’re a sub-six foot possession receiver, that hardly separates you from the bunch.
Fit with the Bengals
There may not be an immediate one. Tyler Boyd is manning the slot for now, but if the Bengals go four-wide more often in building a Joe Burrow-friendly offense, Duvernay can compete for snaps in those situations, specifically in trips aligned in reduced splits. Long-term, the Bengals could use a starter and Duvernay may not be capable of taking on that role.
There will be a run on receivers somewhere around the 20th overall pick that could last well into the second round. Duvernay’s name will likely not be a part of that, but anytime in the third round and beyond should be where Duvernay gets the call. He’s coming into the NFL at the right time as more offensive coordinators get creative in using ball-carriers, and he’s one of the most productive ones in this class.