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Could Davante Adams be an Ideal Fit Opposite Keenan Allen?

Breaking down one of the more athletic receivers in the draft, Davante Adams

Davante Adams is a very talented receiver out of Fresno State. I have a hard time projecting him as a player, not because the offense he was in, but because I don't know which specific talents of is will translate. He isn't Brandin Cooks fast, but he's also far from slow. He will make the spectacular catch look routine, but he has too many drops for me to say he has strong hands. On in-breaking routes, he looks sharp & precise, whereas when he runs curl routes, he kind of loafs into the route and doesn't work back to the ball. Adams is a player that could go as high as the late 1st round, or fall into the early 3rd round, and neither would surprise me.

Here are Adams numbers from the combine compared to the average receiver there.

Measurable Adams Average WR at the Combine
Height 6'1 6'0.88
Weight 212 201
Hands 9" 9.34
40 yard dash 4.56 4.51
Vertical 39.5" 35.5
Broad Jump 123" 120"
3 Cone Drill 6.82 6.92
20 yard Shuttle 4.3 4.21

It's always good to see the combine numbers match up with how a player plays. For what it's worth, Adams ran a 4.48 40 yard dash at his pro day, so it's likely he's in between there. But you can see the lower body explosiveness when you watch Adams, as well as his lack of suddenness, and both of those were reflected in his combine numbers.

Where He'll Succeed Early

  • YAC Monster
  • Red Zone Threat
  • Winning at the line of scrimmage
  • Winning at the catch point
  • Playing the ball in the air
Fresno State could be considered "Screen University" with all the passes they threw behind the line of scrimmage. Even when you take out the screens, Adams has the big play ability you look for in a receiver after the catch. He constantly makes the 1st man miss.


He turns into a running back when the ball is in his hands. He's what I would call a "dynamic" player with the ball in his hands. He's strong enough to run through arm tackles, and has a "dead leg" juke that works very well in the open field.

For various reasons San Diego struggled in the red zone last year. Davante Adams did not. This is where his athleticism was really on display, as he would consistently win 50/50 jump balls. He's an asset in the red zone for this very reason. It also doesn't hurt to be good after the catch in this area.


What I've been pushing all offseason is for a receiver to win early in their route. When Adams is facing press coverage, he's very good. At times, he plays with the defender too much, but he wins. Creating separation early in the route is one of the biggest assets a receiver can have, especially in a quick hitting, west coast offense like San Diego runs.


I think one of the more underrated parts of Adams' game is his ability to get and win vertical. He knows he's not going to just flat out run by the defensive back, so he'll set them up with a subtle move around 8-10 yards, then glide by them and accelerate to the ball.


When he doesn't have as much space downfield, Adams does a good job of shielding off the defender to make the catch, if not simply out jumping the defensive back for the ball.

Where He Can Improve

  • Focus Drops
  • Working Back to the Ball
  • Can run Crisper Routes
  • Effort & Physicality at times lacks
This is where the Michael Crabtree comparisons need to stop. Adams is a very good player, but Crabtree has some of the stronger hands I've seen. Adams will gator arm the ball occasionally, or just flat out drop it. Obviously, it's not like he has bad hands, this is a focus issue, but an issue nonetheless.


I like Adams when he's running a slant or an in-breaking route. When he does that he can make one cut and create separation. When he's running the curl routes, his lack of suddenness shows. He has to throttle down, and takes extra, unnessacry steps. The below GIF is a good example of a compounded issue where he does this, doesn't work back to the ball, and allows the defender to break on the ball, resulting in a drop.


On the majority of his curl routes, he sort of rounds into the route, and doesn't work back to the ball. Because Adams was only a redshirt sophomore, all this can be coached or developed.

It's far from a deal breaker, but Adams effort when it comes to blocking isn't very good. He just didn't seem very interesting in blocking, period. I also believe that he gets knocked around too much for a guy his size. I'd like to see him be more physical.

Grade/Final Thought

Multiple Pro Bowl Player, Top 10 8.5 – 9.0
Highly Productive Starter, 1st Round 8.0 – 8.4
Very Good Starter, Early 2nd Round 7.8 – 7.9
Reliable Starter, 2nd Round 7.5 – 7.7
Potential Starter in Year 2, 3rd Round 7.0 – 7.4
Backup/Spot Starter, 4th Round 6.5 – 6.9
Productive Backup, 5th Round 6.0 – 6.4
Very Good Backup/STs, 6th Round 5.5 – 5.9
Quality Backup/Good STs, 7th Round 5.0 – 5.4
Backup/STs/Project Player, 7th Round 4.5 – 4.9
Priority Free Agent w/ Limitations 4.0 – 4.4
Non-Draftable < 4.0

Trait Weight Grade
Route Running 4 3.6
Speed 2.5 2.2
Hands 3 2.6
Ball Skills 3 2.8
YAC Ability 2 2
Effort 2 1.5
Blocking 2 1.3
Separation Skills 2 1.7
Awareness 2.5 2.1
Athleticism 2 1.9

Adams grades out to a 7.51, or a fringe 2nd round talent. His athleticism is obvious, you can't teach some of the tools he has. He can jump out of the gym, can make you miss, and make the spectacular catch. On the flip side, he'll need to tighten up his route running at the next level, and eliminate these focus drops in order to take the next step.

How He Fits as a Charger

He's not a speedster, but can certainly stretch the field(which is an issue in the offense currently.) Adams could come in and start day 1 opposite Keenan Allen and this offense would be incredibly balanced. Adams wins early in his routes, and with all the short throws San Diego does in their "half court offense," Adams could thrive after the catch. Knowing his leaping ability, and how Philip Rivers loves to give his receivers a chance, Adams would be an ideal fit in the offense. The question is whether San Diego would be willing to go for Adams at 25, or hope he falls until the 57th pick to draft him.