In a running back class loaded with physical specimens and athletic freaks, it's no wonder that the 5-foot-9 Mike Davis hasn't made quite as much of a splash in pre-draft conversations. However, after watching his college game tape over the last two years, there's a chance Davis could end up being one of the sleeper prospects of the draft and in fantasy next fall.
» Short range quickness in cutting through hole
» Surprising speed once he hits second level
» Good vision through hole and for cut backs
» Good hands out of the backfield
Davis does a lot of the little things right as a running back. He's patient waiting for his blockers (and at 5-foot-9 can hide behind them well) and shows good vision in finding the right crease, especially when it comes to open cutback lanes. Davis was decisive in his cuts and proved adept at planting his foot and getting upfield in a hurry. He hits the hole with speed and power, but has another surprisingly quick gear to shift into once he hits the second level.
Despite his smaller frame, Davis showed good power and strength at finishing runs, keeping his legs churning and fighting for extra yardage. He also looked natural as a pass-catcher out of the backfield, and showed an ability to adjust to a few difficult throws downfield.
» Lacks home-run speed
» Conditioning might be an issue
» Limited wiggle from hips for jukes
» Possibly wore down with heavier workload
Johnson definitely showed more pop in his 2013 tape, and depending on whom you ask, the blemishes on his 2014 tape come from a number of reasons, including rib and hamstring injuries as well as playing at a heavier weight than the year before. Some scouts appear worried about his conditioning (as evidenced in Lance Zierlein's profile - link above), but hopefully an NFL offseason will help shake him of that potentially bad habit.
While Johnson's burst into the second level is impressive, it's not quite the top-line homerun speed teams tend to covet. He has a nice dead leg fake, but other than that he isn't what anyone will call a "shifty" back in space.
Ideal NFL fantasy fits
New England has often been a fantasy wasteland for running backs, but it'd be interesting to see them give someone like Davis a lion's share of the touches. Atlanta is in need of a feature back, and while they've been talking up Devonta Freeman all offseason, it wouldn't surprise anyone if they drafted a back as well. Davis could also thrive in Kyle Shanahan's system. Lastly, the Buccaneers have been loading up on running backs it seems, but they might go after another one to try and find the answer in their backfield.
Early fantasy draft projection
At this point in my 2015 draft class review, I'm pegging Davis as a potential late-round sleeper -- if he lands with the right team. If he has a chance to earn the starting role on a decent team, he could have an Alfred Morris-esque rookie season. That is assuming, of course, he gets his potential conditioning issues sorted out. Either way, Davis' name will be one to keep an eye on come draft day.