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Second to none -- Chargers see overshadowed collegian as first-rate prospect

Discussion in 'San Diego Chargers Hall of Champions' started by robdog, Jul 31, 2007.

  1. robdog

    robdog Code Monkey Staff Member Administrator

    Jun 29, 2009
    Source: <a href="http://www.nctimes.com/articles/2007/07/31/sports/professional/chargers/22_27_507_30_07.txt" target="_blank" title="North County Times">North County Times</a>

    <p align="left"><img src="http://bolttalk.com/wp-content/uploads/2007/07/craig_davis.jpg" alt="Craig Davis" style="width: 184px; height: 255px" align="left" height="255" width="184" />SAN DIEGO ---- The speculation was hot and heavy as the NFL draft approached that the Chargers were eyeing a wide receiver with their first-round pick. Several names were thrown out as possibilities, including a productive receiver from LSU.</p>
    But what might surprise some draftniks is that the flashy Dwayne Bowe wasn't the preferred target of Chargers receivers coach James Lofton. The Hall of Fame receiver felt a different LSU wideout, Craig Davis, was the better option for the Chargers.

    "For us, he was the best receiver that we could get," Lofton said recently. "Maybe Calvin Johnson (the second overall selection by Detroit) was the head of the class, but then you take (receivers) two through 10 and Craig was the guy that I liked. I felt real fortunate that we were able to draft him."

    The Chargers tabbed the 6-foot-1, 202-pound Davis with the 30th overall pick. That was seven spots after Kansas City picked Bowe, continuing a pattern in which Davis was overshadowed by his former LSU teammate.

    "He was more outspoken," Davis said of Bowe. "He said a lot, and I was kind of the guy who would just try to leave it out there on the field.

    "In a way, it motivated me to do better. Not actually go out there and prove him wrong ---- it's not all about that ---- but I'm a competitor."

    In the view of some draft analysts, Davis was a surprise first-round pick. But Chargers general manager A.J. Smith has never been overly interested in other people's perceptions, always choosing to trust his own projections as the paramount factor in the decisions he makes.

    "Craig Davis is an all-around terrific football player," Smith said. "He has great speed, great hands, is an outstanding route runner, loves the game, great work ethic.

    "I know he was the second fiddle there to a young man who is a hell of a football player in Kansas City, but we really like him. We think he's going to be a great fit for us. I'm looking forward to seeing what he can do to help us."

    Described by former LSU receivers coach Todd Monken as an intelligent player, Davis finished his college career as the school's seventh all-time leading receiver with 141 catches. But he had just seven career touchdown receptions and occasionally struggled with the injury bug.

    There was always the general feeling he could do more.

    Then again, Davis caught passes in 35 consecutive games and became only the seventh player in LSU history with more than 2,000 career receiving yards.<img src="http://bolttalk.com/wp-content/uploads/2007/07/craig_davis2.jpg" alt="Craig Davis" style="width: 175px; height: 288px" align="right" height="288" width="175" />

    Monken, now the receivers coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars, says the Chargers are a good fit for Davis' humble personality. Monken says Davis is "not a naturally confident kid" and that having players like LaDainian Tomlinson, Philip Rivers and Antonio Gates around will help him prosper.

    "He's a guy that needs to fly under the radar, I think," said Monken, who coached Davis the past two seasons. "I don't think it's something to where the expectation is, 'If we don't get this guy to come in and make this huge impact, we're not going to be able to win.'

    "I just don't think that is his personality. That's just me. He may be pissed that I say something like this, and I don't mean it in disrespect, I just mean that as to him and who he is and how his makeup is. I think with every day that I was around him, he became more and more confident. I think he started to believe that you don't have to take a back seat to anybody. That you're capable of being as good as anybody we've got.

    "It's just not his nature. He's very humble that way, which is nice. You kind of like that as opposed to someone who thinks they don't have to work."

    Davis doesn't have a problem with Monken's comments about his confidence, but makes it clear there is no lack of confidence when he's on the football field or with his abilities. He says it's just not his style to be brash or outspoken or express a lot of opinions.

    "I don't intend to be outgoing," Davis said. "I'm laid back and observe everything."

    "I've grown up like that. I've never been a person to be in the spotlight. I'm not saying that I want to be on the back burner on this team, but I'm not going to be the outspoken one."

    Davis, a native of New Orleans, would rather let his actions speak for him, and early reports are that he's doing a splendid job. Lofton raves about Davis' work ethic and intelligence. Rivers pointed out Monday that Davis is quickly learning the offense.

    "A lot of times with young guys, when you break the huddle, you have to help them line up," Rivers said.

    "Very seldom do I ever have to say anything to him, and that's a good sign that he's studying the offense and picking it up."

    What remains to be seen is what type of impact Davis can make as a rookie. Receivers often struggle during the transition from college to the NFL before finding their stride.

    "It just depends on how you measure the impact," Lofton said. "Is the impact by just the number of catches or what he does for the team on the field?

    "I think he's going to have an impact. You watch him, and every day he seems to get a little better and a little more confident.

    "Another quality that you like about him is that he's unselfish. He's just not a me-first guy. In today's sports world, sometimes that's pretty rare."

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