Scouting Report: Davante Adams, WR, Fresno State

Scouting Report: Davante Adams, WR, Fresno State

Yet another high-flying playmaker
By: Pete Davidson : March 25, 2014 6:19pm

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Davante Adams is one of the tougher receivers to get a handle on in this draft. I say this because, while his talents are easy to spot, his weaknesses are somewhat theoretical. The spread offense at Fresno State did not ask Adams to do some of the things that pro offenses will be asking him to do. As a collegian, Adams was used mostly on go routes, fades, posts, screens and drag routes with some hitches and double moves mixed in. And, for what it’s worth, Adams was pretty good at what he was asked to do.

Our concern is that, depending on what offense he’s drafted into, Adams could be asked to run more curls, outs and deep in routes. This requires a higher degree of technique and timing with the quarterback. So, while we are bullish on what Adams can do, we see a predictable growth curve at the next level for a talented sophomore who is leaving Fresno early. For Adams to have early success in the NFL, he will need an offense that can let him play to his strengths. A team like the Patriots could be a bad fit, while a team like the Panthers, where he could slide into Brandon LaFell’s old role quite nicely, could lead to more success as a rookie.

Fresno State QB Derek Carr was all positives when asked about his number one receiver at the Combine. “He’s the best. Some people say he’s not the fastest on tape, but I still haven’t seen him get caught on tape. He’ll definitely have one of, if not the best, vertical leaps. I’ve seen him dunk and he’s looking down through the rim. I don’t think that’s supposed to happen with how tall he is.”

Adams’ Combine numbers back Carr’s assessment up.

  • Height - 6’1”
  • Weight - 212 lbs
  • Hands - 9”
  • 40 - 4.56
  • Bench - 14 reps
  • Vertical Jump - 39.5”
  • Broad Jump - 123”
  • 3-Cone Drill - 6.82
  • 20 Yd Shuttle - 4.30

His speed was slightly disappointing, though not problematic and Adams did run better at his pro day, which certainly helps.

Here are Davante’s strengths as we see them.

  • Size - At over six feet and weighing 212 pounds, Adams is bigger than the average receiver.
  • Hands - Adams has some of the best hands in this years' class. He can catch the ball away from his frame and in heavy traffic.
  • Athleticism - Though he is not terribly fast, he is extremely athletic with excellent body control when aloft. His 39.5” vertical leap shows up often on film and it allows Adams to play even taller than his 6’1” frame suggests.  Seriously, just check out the article photo.  Davante has some seriously mad ups.
  • Ball skills - Adams puts the hands and athleticism together well. He also gets his head turned early and tracks the football like a hawk. When you add it all up, you have top shelf ball skills both figuratively and literally. You’ll see him winning some contested balls when we get to his film in a second.
  • Routes - This is a tricky area with Adams, because he runs the routes they use at Fresno well, but it’s a very limited selection.
  • Consistency - This is a player you can count on. Drops are few and far between and he’ll take a hit to make the catch. I saw no cases of alligator arms on film. He’s also a consistently willing blocker with the potential to be above average at the next level. Adams gives it to his team on every snap and plays like a leader.
  • Running ability - Adams shows good instincts and vision with the football in his hands and uses his blockers well on screens. He has plus ability after the catch.
  • Production - In two years at Fresno State, Adams posted downright staggering numbers.  They obviously need to be taken with a grain of salt, but they are impressive nonetheless.

Let’s start Adams’ film with a huge game. If all of Adams’ film looked like this, he’d go in round one, but as we all know, there are teams out there that, unlike New Mexico, play defense.

This is a good game to watch in terms of learning about how Adams wins as a receiver. You can easily rewind to the beginning if you want to do that. The play I have cued up is a nice example of Adams' ability to shake free off of his release and it leads to a score in this case. Then, watch how he makes San Jose State pay for giving him a cushion on the next play.

Now, lets take a look at an opponent with a legit defense.

Not a bad effort at all, though we do see the better defense limiting the damage and choking off most of the horizontal elements of the spread offense. Still, you can see Adams beating USC’s corners cleanly on several occasions and he scores on a beautiful leaping reception. On this play we see Adams’ hands, leaping ability and body control all on full display.

Adams is yet another receiver who gets lost in the shuffle a bit this year due to the absurdly deep pool of talent. Those who knock Fresno’s spread offense, pass some of that disrespect along to Adams. And, while I wholeheartedly agree that Adams’ stats are partially equivalent to funny money, there is a lot of legit work in there too. 

Davante is clearly a player with some leadership qualities. We’ve heard nothing negative as far as work ethic is concerned and he has no off-field concerns that we’re aware of. Based on his press conference at the Combine, he’s clearly a player who understands that the stakes get raised at the next level. He has a professional approach to his craft, which we like.

In the final analysis, Adams is a player we see making it in the NFL, but he should have a typical growth curve. Over time, as he gets comfortable and refines his technique, particularly with routes, his athletic abilities should win out.

As far as fantasy is concerned, we don’t see Adams having significant redraft value. He’s not going be a consistent producer as a rookie unless he finds a favorable situation. Dynasty and long term leagues are a different situation for sure.  Adams will definitely be a target in rookie drafts.  We’ll firm this up after the draft as we do with all rookies.


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