As we continue with our NFL Draft profiles, it’s time to look at the man who caught more passes than anyone else in Auburn history — Ryan Davis.
The stats speak for themselves. Davis found his niche and hit it hard with Jarrett Stidham tossing the ball. The pair combined for 155 receptions over the past two seasons, with Davis snagging 178 for his entire career for 1,555 yards and 7 touchdowns.
Now, it’s true what the stats say — Davis was never the deep threat. He was always going to be the guy in Gus Malzahn’s offense (or Chip Lindsey’s, I guess) to catch the screen and make something happen with his shiftiness. His quickness allowed him to give Auburn a seemingly automatic 7-8 yards on each play. By making the first man miss, he was able to turn some of those catches into big hitters, and he was instrumental in wins over Georgia and Alabama in 2017, as well as the comeback against Texas A&M in 2018 due to his skills.
Check out the two plays here against the Bulldogs in 2017. He’s not going to blaze by you like Darius Slayton might, but you’re not going to get a direct hit and you’re not going to be able to get two hands on him without help. Here’s a punt return and a huge touchdown against UGA.
Now here he is showing off in the comeback against the Aggies last year.
Not to mention that Davis also has some passing chops, and Auburn used him in trick plays, with 3-4 passes going for touchdowns in his career. That probably won’t get him any looks in the NFL, but his ability as a return man certainly won’t hurt. Davis averaged 10.8 yards per punt return in his career, and he only became the primary punt return man in 2018, taking back just two kicks before that time. He can show off the same quickness in those situations as he does in the passing game.
As for his strengths, his NFL.com profile highlights everything that we’ve talked about — quickness, shiftiness, ability to make defenders miss. Unfortunately, Davis will need to work on some things to become the type of receiver the NFL covets. One of the main things may be the utter disdain that pro analysts have for Gus Malzahn’s offense. As you can see on the previous link, the first three knocks on his game stem from the fact that he caught a bunch of screen passes and wasn’t asked to do much else in the offense. When it comes to actual physical weaknesses, they’re pretty small. His hands can improve, and he can become a more fluid runner, but he should be able to find work in a training camp somewhere soon.
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