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NFL Draft: Player Profile - Nate Davis, QB, Ball State
John Tuvey
March 5, 2009
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Nate Davis, Ball StateMeasurables:
Combine height: 6-1 3/8
Combine weight: 226 pounds
Combine 40 time: 4.98 seconds

Stats:
Davis completed 64.3 percent of his passes as a junior, throwing for 3,591 yards and 26 touchdowns against eight interceptions; he also rushed for 410 yards and five touchdowns. For his Ball State career, Davis passed for 9,233 yards and 74 touchdowns against 22 interceptions, completing 60.3 percent of his passes. He also rushed for 860 yards and 10 touchdowns.

Skill Set:
The bottom line on Davis is that he’s talented and athletic and definitely worth developing as a prospect. However, each step of the way there seems to be a contradiction. Davis is a little shorter than the prototypical NFL quarterback prospect… but his over-the-top throwing motion keeps him from having his passes knocked down at the line of scrimmage. He has plenty of arm strength, winning the distance competition at the College Football All-Star Skills Competition with a heave of 69 yards… but scouts have expressed concern about his accuracy. He’s a natural leader… but not a vocal one. He has good mobility and quick feet… but having played in a spread formation he’ll need work on his mechanics and fundamentals.

Of course, the greatest concerns scouts have is that his success came at a lower level of competition in the Mid-American Conference. On the one hand you can point to MAC success stories like Ben Roethlisberger and Byron Leftwich, against whom Davis’ career numbers stack up just fine; on the other, Davis tended to struggle against non-conference foes, including a 45-13 loss to Tulsa in the GMAC Bowl to close out his collegiate career. There is also Davis’ documented learning disability, which may make digesting an NFL playbook a daunting task; it didn’t prevent him from doing so at Ball State, but obviously there’s a step up in levels.

Possible Destinations:
Because Davis is most assuredly a developmental quarterback, there are plenty of potential landing spots. It could be a team that has an immediate need and will let Davis get some playing time over the next couple of years before handing him the job outright; the 49ers, Bears, Bucs and Jets fit that bill. Or maybe a team that needs to think about the position two years from now will add him to the mix and groom him; think Rams, Seahawks, and Panthers—maybe even the Colts. There are also situations that are less than settled, where Davis would potentially be in the mix with a stopgap measure until if/when he’s ready to take over; the Lions and Vikings spring to mind, and the Jaguars could be looking for a future (or sooner) heir to David Garrard as well.

Fantasy Impact:
Davis is a bit of a “tweener” when compared to the other quarterbacks expected to go on Day One of the draft. He’s not quite the “slash” prospect that Pat White is, nor is he viewed as finished a product as Matt Stafford or Mark Sanchez. He has athletic potential, but he’s not quite the prototypical quarterback size like Josh Freeman is. As such, he’s the most likely of all the first-day signal callers to wind up in a situation in which little is expected of him as a rookie.

But that doesn’t mean he lacks potential. Davis will most likely be on a two- or three-year plan to receive significant playing time, and dynasty leaguers should plan accordingly. Of course, Davis’ draft day destination will play a large part in his dynasty value, but don’t forget the team that selects him will have a couple years to assemble parts around him if they’re not already in place. And a cautionary note is in order, in that the list of effective fantasy quarterbacks who emerged from rounds two and three of the draft is hardly extensive: of the 16 quarterbacks taken between 2000 and 2006 who fit this profile, only Drew Brees and Matt Schaub have emerged as reliable fantasy starters (a nod to Fantasy Players Network partner Scott Wright, who has a great article documenting this topic in much greater detail at his Draft Countdown site).

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