Michael Davis has risen from undrafted free agent to the guy that Chargers' head coach Brandon Staley trusts to lock up the opponent's most dangerous receiver. But does he get the recognition that he deserves? Is Michael Davis the most underrated corner in the NFL?
There is certainly a case. That said, even if we rewind 12 months, there was evidence that he was being underrated by his own team.
Fans were even pleased about it. Pleased with the depth that the team had at corner, with Asante Samuel Jr. coming off a good rookie season and the shiny new toys of J.C. Jackson and Bryce Callahan pushing Davis into the CB4 spot in the minds of many.
Davis flipped the script in 2022, becoming the guy, with Jackson suffering a season-ending injury and not playing well before that. Going into 2023, it feels like Davis is CB1 with Jackson being the luxury number two. Samuel is slated to move inside, with Ja’Sir Taylor as depth in order to round out the top of the cornerback depth chart.
But still, there isn't much love for Davis outside of Los Angeles. No social media buzz, no network talking-heads using him at the center of their latest hot take. Nothing. Nada. Crickets. It is unusual for the number one corner on what should be a playoff team to get no love from the media, especially in the gargantuan media market that is L.A.
Why is Michael Davis underrated outside of Chargers fans?
It's down to the fact that he came out of a school like BYU. A school that isn’t going to garner a lot of national attention at the college football level, especially when the highest profile player drafted in the time Davis was playing for the Cougars was Daniel Sorensen.
The fact that Davis went undrafted also contributes. Fans want to talk about highly drafted players, guys who have name recognition. Davis has never had that, even to this day.
Finally, off the back of that, being a UDFA usually means it’s more difficult to get paid like an elite player (hello, Austin Ekeler!). So Davis being on a team-friendly deal means he’s never been in conversations about market-setting contracts.
Why does he deserves more attention then?
Davis has the 4.3 speed and the length at 6’2" that all NFL teams crave at the position. So to start, he’s already got a leg up on a lot of his peers through natural, physical attributes. There is evidence on film that he has put these gifts to great use too. In the past, Davis has locked up the likes of Tyreek Hill, Stefon Diggs, and Davante Adams.
In 2022, Davis ranked 4th in the NFL in passes defensed with 14 and fared favorably when measuring forced incompletion rate against receiving yards allowed per target which contributed towards a deserved catch percentage at 66.1% for the season.
Perhaps he doesn't get enough interceptions but these are lockdown numbers, as the graph above suggests. So where is the Michael Davis hype? The guy is super-underrated. Chargers fans should demand that he receives more attention.
That said, the Chargers could face another sticky contract situation if Davis continues to play at a high level in 2023. Davis is a free agent after this coming season but will they be reluctant to pay a corner at 29 years of age in 2024? Although, it may be wise to prioritize extending Davis over anything else after this season.
Huge questions remain but in the meantime, let’s put some respect on his name.