Corey Davis is a 6'3 205 pound senior wide receiver at Western Michigan. He's a player many expected to enter the 2016 NFL draft; some even viewed him as a viable fantasy threat as a rookie and ran a sub 4.5 40. He would have likely been a top-100 pick in the 2016 draft had he entered, and some coaches viewed him as NFL-ready even as a sophomore. Davis is a big play waiting to happen. He has great hands and is extremely fast. He's elusive in the open field, and has the raw speed to burn defenders. Here's some film. He should become a Tavon Austin-caliber player in the NFL, and has the upside for much more in the right offensive system. While I don't view him as a traditional number 1 receiver, he will provide a solid deep threat for any NFL offense, and could easily be a first round pick in 2017.
Over three seasons at Western Michigan, Corey Davis has generated 234 catches for 3778 yards and 33 touchdowns. This leaves him heading into his senior season with a 16.1 yards per reception average. These are solid numbers; he's been one of the more productive receivers in college football the past couple of seasons. He's generated some hype lately among scouting circles as well; nfldraftscout.com has him ranked as the #2 overall WR in the 2017 draft. Lindy's Sports National College Football Preview Magazine has him ranked as the 8th WR in the nation. I think he likely gets drafted behind USC's Juju Smith-Schuster (arguably the best WR in college), and Clemson's Mike Williams. Malachi Dupre from LSU will be in the discussion early as well. This leaves Davis' likely draft spot at the end of the 1st round or in the early 2nd, unless he improves as a senior.
Davis has worked to add weight in the offseason. This should help him improve as a blocker. This also shows that he is willing to put in work to help his team on every snap, regardless of whether the ball is headed his way. Some players get lazy on plays where they are unlikely to handle the ball. The fact that Corey Davis is working to become better as a blocker suggests that he's a high character guy that is willing to put the needs of his team before personal glory. Kids like that often succeed in the NFL. If he shows improvement as a blocker, that will only help his draft stock. He will bobble an occasional ball, but as a whole, he has great hands.
Davis is a player who is primed to become a household name in 2016. He already has borderline first round potential, and could easily propel himself into the discussion as one of the first WRs off the board with a strong senior season. Right now, I think he's anywhere from the third to sixth receiver drafted in 2017, barring a disaster this season. With a strong senior year, he could easily become the second or third guy taken. I think Juju Smith-Schuster is the more complete receiver, but Corey Davis could be a solid, solid NFL receiver, and is a player to watch heading into 2016. With a strong year, he could even surpass Smith-Schuster in draft stock. Davis is basically a harder working, more consistent version of Corey Coleman, and those tendencies will serve him well heading into his senior year and into the draft.--Mike B.
Last season at Oregon, Vernon Adams, Jr. was finishing off his collegiate career as a graduate transfer from Big Sky Conference program Eastern Washington. Adams was a successful quarterback at Eastern Washington, and rode his accomplishments at Oregon and at Eastern Washington into the draft. While Adams went undrafted and is currently playing for the Montreal Alouettes in the CFL, he's the most well-known Big Sky Conference product at quarterback since Montana State University quarterback Travis Lulay signed with the Seattle Seahawks following the 2006 NFL Draft. While Adams was turning heads at Oregon, Dakota Prukop was turning heads at Montana State.
Dakota Prukop spent two seasons as a starter at Montana State, finishing his career with 5585 passing yards, 46 touchdowns, 16 intereptions, a 63.8 completion percentage, and 327 career rushing attempts for 1743 yards and 24 touchdowns. He was also recruited heavily by Alabama. For comparison, Vernon Adams started three seasons at Eastern Washington. He finished with 10,438 passing yards, 110 touchdowns, 31 interceptions, a 64.8 completion percentage, and 297 career rushing attempts for 1232 yards and 11 touchdowns. Adams was a more polished passer than Prukop, but Prukop is the better runner. Adams excelled at Oregon and found himself in draft discussions. Prukop won't be in the draft picture just based on his Montana State film, but he did a lot of things well while there. Big Sky quarterbacks just don't get a lot of professional hype. Players for schools such as Oregon generally get plenty of attention. Here are some highlights.
If Prukop is able to lock down the starting job at Oregon, he should at least find himself in discussion at the tail end of the draft. Right now there are a couple of big questions: First, how will Prukop handle the transition from Montana State to Oregon? If he can make the jump from FCS to FBS effectively, this will convince some scouts that he has the potential to contribute in the NFL as well. Second, can Prukop win in big games? Much like his predecessor at Montana State, Denarius McGhee, Prukop struggled on the big stage at times. If Prukop can win some big games at Oregon, that will further draw interest from NFL scouts.
The biggest question about Dakota Prukop is where he fits as a player in the NFL. Prukop is one of those hybrid types of guys that many teams will take a look at at the tail end of the draft and attempt to transition them from quarterback to running back or wide receiver. Prukop is athletic enough to make the switch, and that may be where his future lies in the NFL. However, with a very strong season at Oregon, he could propel himself into draft discussions at quarterback much like Vernon Adams did. He's a guy to watch heavily as fall begins, and could make a name for himself this season.--Mike B.
Jake Wieneke is a 6'3 215 pound wide receiver at South Dakota State University. He's a junior, and not expected to enter the NFL Draft until 2018, where nfldraftscout.com projects him as the 25th overall receiver in the class. While this seems, at first glance, to be a reasonably high ranking for a Division I-AA prospect, this is not the case for Wieneke. Wieneke has the potential to be a top ten caliber wide receiver prospect by the time his college career comes to a close, and he has the production to back up that argument.
Wieneke is not the first South Dakota State offensive player to take the NFL by storm in recent years. If you've read our site for a few seasons, you know that I was high on Zach Zenner before the 2015 NFL Draft. I hyped him like crazy, and he proceeded to go undrafted, signing with the Detroit Lions following the draft. What did Zenner do with his NFL opportunity? Only lead the entire NFL in rushing yards in the preseason before his season ended prematurely with an injury. My point isn't that South Dakota State University is a secret NFL powerhouse. My point is that players that are successful in the South Dakota State University offense can continue that success in the NFL. Has Wieneke been successful so far? Let his numbers be the judge.
Jake Wieneke has 27 touchdown receptions over two career NCAA seasons. In 2014, Wieneke had 73 receptions for 1404 yards, and 19.2 yards per reception. In 2015, he had 72 catches for 1472 and 20.4 yards per reception. In 26 career college games he's generated 145 receptions, 2876 yards, and 27 touchdowns. That's more than a touchdown reception a game. The guy can flat-out produce and will be an asset to any NFL offense that takes a chance on him.
One thing you don't see in Wieneke is a big step up in production between his freshman and sophomore seasons. While this might make some scouts wary and raise doubts about his ability to improve as a player, I wonder if Wieneke is simply producing as much as he can in the South Dakota State University offensive system; his freshman and sophomore seasos were nearly identical except for the fact that he scored more touchdowns as a freshman. The question is, is Wieneke a product of the South Dakota State University offense, or is he a legitimate NFL prospect?
I think he projects as a solid NFL prospect. If you watch the film on him (here's some film), you will see a sure-handed receiver who easily makes guys miss. He's comfortable catching the ball in traffic and is willing to lay out to make a catch on a poorly thrown ball. Note that the film I linked is of him as a FRESHMAN in college, and he already looks like a borderline late-round NFL prospect. As he continues to learn the game, he will only improve. He has two seasons of college eligibility left, and if he can show some development over those seasons, we could be talking about a Day 2 prospect, or even a potential first round pick, if NFL front offices are intelligent. He could get overlooked due to questions about his competition and slip into the later rounds of the draft, but if that happens, some NFL team will get an absolute steal with him. The potential is there for Wieneke to develop into a solid NFL player, and he's a guy to watch heading into the 2016 season. --Mike B.
Every so often, a great NFL player comes out of an under-recognized college program. Division II programs are often under-recognized and under-hyped, but the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) has a strong history of launching great players towards strong NFL careers. Some former PSAC athletes include Andre Reed, Brent Grimes, and John Kuhn. Clearly the conference is capable of generating NFL-caliber talent on a regular basis. Today, there is another young player in the PSAC with NFL-caliber talent. That player is Jordan Bowman.
Jordan Bowman is a versatile safety heading into his senior year at California University of Pennsylvania. He's played both safety positions effectively and has the talent and experience to be a strong contributor on special teams early in his NFL career. Not only is Jordan one of the most effective defenders in DII football, but he's also gotten progressively better as a player every season. As a freshman, Jordan generated 28 total tackles, a fumble recovery, 2 interceptions, and a half tackle for loss. As a sophomore, those numbers increased, with 39 total tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, a fumble recovery, and 4 interceptions. He continued to improve statistically as a junior, with 62 total tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss, a forced fumble, and 5 interceptions. From a statistical perspective, he has improved every single season. That is due both to Jordan becoming more experienced as a player and to his extremely strong work ethic.
One thing that sticks out immediately to me about Jordan Bowman is that he is an extremely aggressive hard-nosed defender who is capable of breaking up passes and punishing receivers. He reads offenses extremely well, and quickly makes his way towards the ball. He hustles on every play, and quickly adjusts to changes in offensive formation. He's also a very skilled tackler with good form. He wraps well and doesn't just rely on impact to bring receivers and runners down. That will translate well to the NFL, where arm tackles and hits without wrapping will often result in broken tackles. He has some very nice upside just from watching the film (here's some film). However, when you consider him as an individual, he becomes even more enticing as a prospect.
We were fortunate to have an opportunity to interview Jordan (available here), and even though he has already become one of the best safeties in DII football, he's pushing himself hard to continue to improve. During the offseason, he works hard to find any weak points in his game and then focuses on improving in those areas. He's already a very good player, but as he says, "good is never good enough. There is always room for improvement." Jordan Bowman is an extremely driven player with a constant urge to get better. One of his strongest points as a player is his tendency to make big plays in big games; that is perhaps most clear in his becoming Coal Bowl MVP against Indiana University of Pennsylvania in a huge rivalry game. He is a great player every time that he touches the field, but he is also an extremely clutch player. Jordan Bowman produces under pressure in big games, and that will help him shine as an NFL player.
There are some other aspects of Jordan Bowman's mentality and experience that make him a strong choice for any NFL team in 2017. Although he's an already strong defender, Jordan is working to perfect his blitzing skills and man to man coverage skills. He recognizes that perfecting these skills will help him to excel at the NFL level, and he's already taking steps to strengthen these areas of his game, even though he is already extremely capable in both areas. This is a hard working player who will go out of his way to improve his game every step of the way. He's also driven, and prides himself in his football IQ and understanding of the game. With some players, pure athletic talent propels them into the national spotlight. Jordan Bowman has that athletic talent, but he also has the intangibles and the work ethic to stick as an NFL defender for years to come.
As a player, Bowman has already faced some adversity in his career. He's worked with three different position coaches and two defensive coordinators in his young career. This might have been difficult for most players to overcome, but Jordan Bowman has progressively improved every step of the way. He's a player that takes the time to learn and perfect his craft every step of the way, and can adjust quickly to different situations. This will help him to succeed in the NFL, where coaching staffs are not always stable.
Another key aspect of Jordan Bowman's game that will help him stick in the NFL is his special teams play. He's a versatile special teamer who has scored multiple times and made multiple big plays. While he won't need to rely on special teams to stick in the NFL (his ability as a defender should be enough for him to secure a roster spot), his skill as a special teamer will help him generate interest from NFL front offices. Not only can he offer strong depth with the talent to quickly become an NFL starter and star, but he can also contribute immediately as a solid core special teamer as he adjusts to the NFL.
Jordan Bowman is primed for an extremely strong senior season, and two games to watch this year are his big rivalry games against Slippery Rock (October 1st at 1 PM) and the Indiana University of Pennsylvania (the Coal Bowl, October 8th at 7 PM). Although he's not a household name yet, he has the talent to be one of the top safeties in the 2017 NFL Draft. I expect a huge year out of him, and think that he has the talent, the drive, and the passion to be an extremely successful NFL player. If you're looking for a guy with massive upside to root for heading into the 2016 college football season, Jordan Bowman is your guy. Plus, while watching him, you'll get a chance to watch an extremely competitive conference in the PSAC. Don't sleep on Jordan Bowman. He is already an NFL caliber player who will only get better with another season of experience. This kid could be special. --Mike B.
Jordan Bowman is a defensive back at California University of Pennsylvania. A standout among DII athletes, Jordan Bowman was a second team All American in 2015, and is primed for a breakout season. Bowman is the type of athlete that continues to get better; both his interceptions and total tackle numbers have improved every year, as have his tackles for loss. He broke out a bit with 62 total tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss, a forced fumble, and 5 interceptions in 2015. His career numbers are higher, with 11 interceptions, 129 total tackles, 9.5 tackles for loss, a forced fumble, and two fumble recoveries over 32 games. Jordan Bowman is also an accomplished special teams player, scoring a beautiful touchdown on a blocked punt in 2014. He has the numbers and the talent for a strong 2016 season, and should put himself squarely on NFL draft boards this fall. We were lucky enough to have an opportunity to interview Mr. Bowman, and here it is. Questions in black, Jordan's answers in red.
Mr. Bowman, first of all, congratulations on an extremely successful 2015 season. You've improved every season as a college player. What is the key to your continued development?
My off season training and preparation for each season. Each year I train harder and understand what areas of my game to focus on. Also never settling and understanding that good is never good enough. There is always room for improvement.
What are some things you plan to work on this season? What can you do to become an even better player?
This season I’m working on becoming a better man to man defender, and also perfecting my blitzing. Skills that will help me excel at the next level.
What are some of your strongest points as a player? In your eyes, what makes you stand out compared to others at your position?
My intelligence is one of my strengths as a player, every time I step on field I’m the smartest player. Also my ability to make big plays in big games. I play my best when the stage is the biggest.
You've made an impact both on special teams and as a defensive back throughout your college. What positions have you played as a college player?
I’ve played SS, FS, and NK. And on special teams I can play any position depending on the week.
What are some of your favorite formations and defensive systems to play in?
I enjoy playing in a defensive scheme that is balanced, but also keeps the offense guessing. Having a good balance of blitzing, man, and zone.
Many college football fans are relatively unfamiliar with Division II football, even though guys like Ali Marpet have gone relatively high in the draft and players from your conference like John Kuhn, Andre Reed, and Brent Grimes have gone on to long and successful NFL careers. What are some things that make Division II football unique? What's it like playing in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference?
The PSAC is unique because it doesn’t get a lot of national attention and the funding isn’t anything to brag about. But the top teams in the PSAC have just as much talent as a handful of FCS schools and can compete with them yearly. Which makes the PSAC competitive but also disappointing with the lack of national exposure.
Who are some of your favorite players to watch in the NFL?
On Sundays I'll either be watching the Seahawks with Kam Chancellor, Earl Thomas and Richard Sherman, or I’ll be watching the Cardinals Tyrann Mathieu and Patrick Peterson.
Who are some of your role models?
Two of my role models growing up were Kobe Bryant and my high school coach, Coach Linn. I learned how to be a competitor from Kobe, and Coach Linn helped me with a lot throughout high school.
What has been your biggest struggle as a player? Also, what has been the best moment of your career so far?
My biggest struggle as player has been the changing of coaches that has taken place throughout my career. I’ve had 3 different position coaches and 2 different defensive coordinators. The best moment of my career was when I won the Coal Bowl MVP my sophomore year after beating our rival IUP during the annual Coal Bowl.
What are some of your goals for the 2016 season?
My goal for the 2016 season is to do whatever is needed of me to be drafted, and to make it to the national playoffs with my team.
Are there any games in particular you are especially looking forward to this season?
Looking forward to playing our 2 biggest rivals Slippery Rock and IUP.
Looking forward to the 2017 NFL Draft, what would you tell professional scouts who may read this interview? What makes you stand out as a potential draft prospect, both as a player and as an individual?
As an individual scouts should know there is nothing they have to worry about regarding my character. But as I player I want scouts to know that I will do whatever it takes to become one of the greats, and I have the talent to do so.
Thank you for your time, Jordan! We look forward to watching your senior season as a California University of Pennsylvania Vulcan. Best of luck this season and in the future as an NFL draft prospect, and thank you for taking the time to talk with us! Mike Bertasso and Matt Koontz, Matt and Mike Sports.
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