Many were expecting the LA Chargers to draft a cornerback in the 2020 NFL Draft. While it was not viewed as a massive need for the team, the team seemingly did need an outside cornerback to play alongside Casey Hayward.
New signing Chris Harris was slated to be the team’s primary slot corner and with Adrian Phillips signing with the New England Patriots, Desmond King is likely going to take on his old role in the defense.
It was surprising when the team opted not to draft a corner, with some wondering if the team is simply waiting for an undrafted free agent, a potential free-agent signing (such as Logan Ryan) or if they trust in the guys this have on the roster. They do.
Michael Davis is the reason why the LA Chargers did not draft a cornerback.
Michael Davis has gotten a bit of a bad reputation among Charger fans. He and Brandon Facyson have seemingly been viewed as a below-average option to be a primary outside corner, and while Facyson has his holes, Davis is not as bad as you would think if you are scrolling through Twitter.
There are examples of him doing poorly. He was not good in his rookie year, had a bad showing against the Minnesota Vikings last season and has a tendency to hold and commit pass interferences.
Davis was tied for the second-most pass interference calls last season (four) to go along with two holding calls in 659 total snaps played. That definitely is an area of improvement, but Davis is heading into just his third season in the league and penalties are a thing that will be improved with experience.
And yes, he has had his bad showings, but overall, Davis is a lot more efficient than you think with a big enough sample size to take seriously. Davis averaged 0.70 yards of separation for every targeted pass thrown his way, the eighth-lowest in the NFL, per Player Profiler.
He also allowed the second-fewest yards per reception, 8.4, and the fifth-lowest yards per target, 5.5. Also according to Player Profiler, Davis had a +2.0 coverage rating, the 40th-best in the NFL.
Is he an elite lockdown corner? No. But he is a really fast (4.34 40-yard dash) cornerback option that has held his own even against one of the fastest receivers in the league, Tyreek Hill.
As the team’s third-best cornerback playing outside with good safeties behind him (having Derwin James healthy will help a lot), Davis is a great option. Plus, even though Harris is best used in the slot, it is not like he cannot help on the outside as well.
According to Sharp Football Stats, 54 percent of the plays that the Chargers had on defense came with two or fewer wide receivers. While in certain instances that could mean putting Harris on a tight end, in others, it will lead Harris to the outside, allowing the team’s coverage linebackers to work on the tight ends.
Now you could make the case that the LA Chargers should have drafted a cornerback because if Casey Hayward or Chris Harris gets hurt then the team is going to struggle with the depth, forcing the team to use Brandon Facyson in a bigger role.
That is absolutely true, the LA Chargers would struggle if Hayward and/or Harris got hurt, but isn’t that true of every franchise? No team is simply going to be okay if the best corner gets hurt and the need for cornerback really just seems like Charger fans are splitting hairs as it is the only thing you could really complain about in a rock-solid defense.
Plus, drafting a late-round cornerback (as they had no second or third-round picks after the Kenneth Murray trade-up) would not have brought anything new to the table that is not already on the roster aside from an extra body.
Michael Davis is not going to be a Pro Bowler, but as someone who is going to play around 70 percent of the snaps as a speedy outside cornerback, he won’t be too shabby. The advanced metrics from his 2019 season show that.