The Minnesota Vikings created quite the stir when they signed wide receiver Quartney Davis after the 2020 NFL Draft concluded. There was a higher than normal interest in this signing because many figured Davis would’ve been drafted early on the third day. He was one of the bigger undrafted free agents that were available and because of this, many in the media, myself included, have set very high expectations for the young pass catcher. While Davis is certainly an exciting young player, perhaps we all need to cool our jets on just what kind of impact he could have on the Vikings this year.
Here are some reasons why Davis’ impact on the 2020 season could be minimal, and what we should really expect from him in his rookie season:
Davis was undrafted for a reason
It was no fluke that Davis went undrafted. While having plenty of positives going for him, like a big-bodied frame and sure hands, there were plenty of reasons why he fell all the way out of the draft. First is his underwhelming 40 time. Davis posted a 4.54 40-yard dash, which isn’t great for a guy who is 6’1″ and 201 pounds. Davis also has plenty of film that shows him struggling to get separation in man-to-man coverage.
He also has an injury history that could’ve negatively affected his stock. Teams are very concerned about chronic health issues that could flare up over a players’ careers, and Davis had blown his ACL early in his Aggie career, which cost him his first two seasons.
Another concern with Davis is his overall production. He was the main target in a very pass-heavy offense, yet he was only able to catch 99 balls for 1,201 yards and 11 touchdowns in his two seasons with the team. Many wanted to see the redshirt junior come back for his senior season and dominate before entering the NFL, but instead he came into the league without hitting his full potential.
All these negatives added up for Davis and pushed him down teams’ boards enough to cause him to not be taken at all in the draft.
Making the Vikings’ 53-man roster will be difficult
Davis will have a tall task ahead of him if he’s going to make the Vikings’ active 53-man roster. The Vikings usually keep five or six wide receivers. Even if they keep six, Davis is going to have to work his tail off to jump anyone on the depth chart.
The locks to make the team are Adam Thielen, Bisi Johnson and Justin Jefferson. Tajae Sharpe was the big free agent signing and provides some much-needed experience to this group, so he’s probably safe. K.J. Osborn was a fifth-round pick and is likely going to be the team’s primary return man, so he’ll have a spot, too.
This potentially puts only one spot on the receiving depth chart up for grabs. Davis will have to compete against experienced players like Alexander Hollins, Chad Beebe and Davion Davis. He also has to battle fellow undrafted rookie Dan Chisena, who, as a great special teamer, has an advantage. The canceled mini-camps and OTAs due to COVID-19 only hurt Davis’ chances, and he’ll have a very shortened preseason to make a strong impression on the coaching staff.
Realistic expectations for Davis in 2020
Davis’ expectations for 2020 need to be toned down. When looking at his weaknesses, he is clearly a player who has a lot of learning to do. While he has that good size, and sticky mitts, he’ll need to really focus on his route running if he’s going to be able to separate from tight NFL coverages, especially with his questionable long speed. He also is starting way behind schedule, having lost valuable practice reps with the loss of mini-camps and OTAs.
The shortened preseason could cause the Vikings to go with a more experienced option on the bottom of their wide receiving depth chart, with players like Beebe and Hollins being favored over the undrafted rookie. The Vikings should expect Davis to impress in the preseason. He is coming in with a chip on his shoulder for being undrafted and will want to prove himself.
Even if he has a great training camp and preseason, Davis has to be seen as an extreme long shot to make the team. His best bet is to land on the practice squad where he can continue to learn the Vikings’ offense and acclimate to the speed of the NFL. There’s a good chance he gets called up this season if the Vikings’ wide receivers are hit with the injury bug. But at this point, the practice squad should be his expectation for 2020.