CFB Player Bracket: Corey Davis vs. Deshaun Watson
After advancing with wins in the first round, it’s time for Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson and Western Michigan wide receiver Corey Davis to square off for a place in the final eight of our 2016 college football player bracket. Both are obviously incredibly talented players, with us believing that both are among the best 16 players in the nation right now. Both come from very different situations, with Watson quarterbacking a national championship contender, while Davis is considered relatively unknown playing in the MAC. With all that being said, which of the two will advance to the next round?
The case for Corey Davis
Davis had the fourth-highest receiving grade of all wide receivers in the nation at +27.0 a year ago. The three players ahead of him, TCU’s Josh Doctson, Oklahoma Sterling Shepard, and his Western Michigan teammate Daniel Braverman have all left for the NFL, so Davis comes into the 2016 season as the highest-graded returning player at the position.
Our yards-per-route-run stat tracks the average number of yards picked up by a receiver on every play where they run a route. Of all the receivers returning to college this year, Davis’ 3.47 yards per route run ranks second, with only Western Kentucky’s Taywan Taylor (4.07) finishing ahead of him.
With Braverman on his way to the NFL, Davis should see even more opportunities in 2016, which likely means an even higher-graded season. With just 15 drops from the past 183 catchable passes thrown his way, and 30 missed tackles forced on 168 receptions over the past two seasons, Davis has continually shown himself to be one of the most consistent players at the position, and is poised for another big year in 2016.
The case for Deshaun Watson
Watching Deshaun Watson over the past two seasons has been a fascinating case study into the development of a young quarterback. He played just 333 snaps as a freshman in 2014, but graded at +9.7 as a passer, and +8.1 as a runner, to get Clemson fans excited for the future. That lead to many to expect a huge 2015 season, but it didn’t exactly start off like that.
After the first eight weeks of last season, Watson had an overall grade of +17.6 and ranked just 22nd in terms of overall grade among quarterbacks. Then the light came on, with a +6.6 performance against North Carolina State, a +6.2 showing against Florida State, and a +5.1 performance against Syracuse. Over the final eight games of the year he graded lower than +3.9 just twice, and never negatively.
From the ninth week of the season onward, no quarterback in the nation graded higher, as Watson powered the Clemson Tigers to a National Championship game with Alabama, with the Tigers falling at the final hurdle. Still, Watson played well in that game, grading at +4.5 as a passer and +1.1 as a runner. To put that into perspective, Michigan State’s Connor Cook graded at -4.0 as a passer against Alabama in the first round of the college football playoff.
The Verdict: Watson advances
Davis is a fantastic receiver, and there is no reason to expect him to not be in the running to be the best receiver in all of college football in 2016. That being said, Watson is a truly special player, and comes into 2016 after closing out the season as the best player in the nation at his position. His career performance arc suggests that he’s only going to get better, which will put the Tigers in position to make a run at the National Championship once again. The best quarterback in the country advances to the final eight of our 2016 college football player bracket.
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