If the Denver Broncos draft cornerback Devron Davis, the 6-foot, 210-pounder will immediately endear himself to Broncos Country.
That’s because the University of Texas San Antonio’s favorite pro cornerback to pattern his game after isn’t a current NFL superstar.
It’s Champ Bailey.
“Champ was physical like all good cornerbacks are,” Davis told Mile High Report in an exclusive interview. “He was physical, very patient, not afraid to tackle and ball skill-savvy. He plays the game right.”
No argument there.
And that attitude is probably why Broncos GM John Elway and his staff brought Davis in for a pre-draft visit last Saturday.
With his biggest strength as a press-man corner, Davis believes he could be a good fit for a team like the Broncos.
“I’m very physical in press-man but also very patient,” he said, noting the necessity to wait for the different releases from the wide receiver. “But I can be very physical once the route develops.”
That’s what he especially liked to do at the University of Texas San Antonio, where the small-school prospect made big-time plays against major programs like Arizona State and Texas A&M.
Davis held his own against A&M’s Josh Reynolds, who is projected to be drafted as high as the third round.
MHR’s draft guru Jeffrey Essary watched film from that game and recalled Davis breaking up several jump balls and even blitzing off the edge a few times.
“He’s a good bump-and-run guy. I watched his tape against A&M, and he looks pretty promising,” Essary pointed out. “Good at the catch point. Seems like they lined him up on the No. 1 guy and said, ‘go cover him.’”
Davis agreed with that assessment and recalled a similar game against Reynolds.
“I pretty much took him out of the game,” Davis laughed, noting Reynolds did get one score that game, “but it wasn’t on me.”
“I like to be in the No. 1 wide receiver’s grill,” he added. “Just give me a jersey and a helmet and let me go.”
The Stockton, California, native hasn’t had the easiest life, but he’s been making the most of it. Moving around a lot as a kid with his single mother, the two had to start over many times, and Davis attended new schools just about every year.
Davis - who is cousins with NFL brothers Vernon and Vontae Davis plus Chiefs’ cornerback Steven Nelson - started at Merced Junior College and then signed with UTSA because of the relationship he formed with head coach Frank Wilson, who recruited Davis while coaching at LSU.
He was disappointed not to get an invite to the Combine, but as with many things in his life, Davis is rolling with the punches and using his pre-draft visits to prove himself.
“I was very disappointed not to get an invite, but I’ve always been put in tough positions and it lights a match in you for sure,” he said, noting that the Combine is as much about inviting the guys with big names from big schools rather than all the best players. “I’m ready to show teams why I’m the best corner in this draft; just give me some pads and let me make plays.”
Thanks to the mentoring of his cousins, Davis knows the pros are different and it will take time learning and studying to be ready to play with the starters.
“You can always learn more. It’s good to have role models and not say too much as a rookie,” he laughed, adding that you never want to be the guy messing up the play on the field. “You’ve got to study. You have to watch the wide receivers and learn their splits, how they release, their tendencies...you can’t just do it on the fly in the pros.”
Scouting profiles note Davis’ ball skills, athleticism, tackling, mirroring ability, block shedding, leaping ability and 4.4 speed as strengths. Over his final two years with the Roadrunners, Davis finished with 61 tackles, 7 TFLs, 1 FF, 3 INTs, 15 PBUs and 1 TD.
As a late-round prospect, Davis could add physicality to any team. With the departure of Aqib Talib, the Broncos just might need some more of that.
“A lot of defensive backs don’t like to tackle, but I love it,” he said. “I’m the first one in the locker room and the last one to leave. I eat, breathe and sleep football. I watch film. I’ve got the talent to play at the next level.”
And Davis would love to be playing in Denver with Chris Harris, Jr. - another under-the-radar corner coming out of college who wasn’t invited to the Combine and went to the Broncos as an undrafted college free agent.
“We’re really similar in our competitiveness and fire,” Davis noted, adding that he hopes the one part of his story that’s different from CHJ’s is getting drafted later this month. “It would mean a lot to get drafted, and then it will mean a lot of work - late nights and early mornings. To play in the NFL is a big dream. It would mean a lot to me and to my mom.”
And if Davis does end up in Denver, he promises to fill the “in-your-face” void left by Talib and to tackle like Champ.
“Talib could always throw wide receivers off their game,” Davis added. “Our mentality is very similar.”