Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Nate Davis: Here's the Deal

My, my, my… the times they are a–changin'. Take a stroll with me down memory lane, Cardinals fans. It was December 1 of 2008. The Cardinals were preparing for an upstart Buffalo team that most thought was simply a speed bump on the road to undefeated. People were still a little surly over BSU's refusal to play in the Humanitarian Bowl against Boise State, folks were wondering if Brady would stick around, and many openly wondered if Nate Davis would toss his hat in the ring of the NFL.

If this were a fairytale beginning, it surely hit nightmare ending in record time. Goldilocks not only ate the porridge, but the three bears proceeded to gang rape her and then burn down the house. Two losses, a lost head coach, and a decision by QB Nate Davis to enter the NFL Draft after arguably two of the worst games in his career left many scratching their heads. Rumors floated of shoddy advice from his brother Jose Davis. Jason Whitlock blamed new head coach Stan Parrish and Athletic Director Tom Collins of trying to underhandedly convince Nate to stick around. People pointed to his family situation, changing offensive line, etc. Just as many people pointed to his last two games, his lack of big time wins, and his empty conference championship trophy case as reasons to stay. Ultimately, though, it was a decision made, however ill-advised, and there are no go backs.

That brings us to the current moment, where Nate is shopping his wares to the National Football League. He went to the Combine, threw a little, ran the 40, made the rounds. From all accounts, Davis did as expected. The problem for Davis is that his combine had to be huge to vault him into "sure-fire" status. That huge combine never came, and Davis was forced to rely on his pro day.

The internet has been abuzz over the last several days with a story reported by the Muncie Star Press and the Cardinals beat writer Doug Zaleski that only 1 team (the Indianapolis Colts) came to Muncie to watch Davis work out in his private pro day. The reasons for this, of course, could be plenty. Perhaps it was too soon after the combine for teams to want to take a second look at the young man. Perhaps it is because they would like Davis to work out for them individually. Perhaps it is simply a case of poor planning on BSU’s part, other commitments by all of the NFL player personnel, etc. It might very well be any of those things or a host of others that are by no means an indictment of Nate’s viability as an NFL QB.

Of course, what is more likely is that Davis, for whatever reason, seems to have been blackballed a bit by the draftniks, those in the know, and many people who basically make a living finding minuscule things that they deem indicative of a potential future problem in the NFL. "This guy's finger nails are too long! Second round, suck-o!" They say he's too short. They say he's a system quarterback. They say he isn't smooth enough to handle the media and the rigors of life as an NFL QB. They say his funky grip without touching the laces could cause problems. They say with a documented learning disability that Davis might not be able to grasp the complexities of an NFL playbook.

Is it fair? Probably not, though it is debatable. If an employer that's hiring for an entry level management job at 40k finds it necessary to do background checks, credit checks, and Facebook checks, then I can see where a team paying potentially millions of dollars to an unproven entity should in fact look for reasons why this investment might be a bad one. And in the interest of fair and balanced, Davis does have some pretty remarkable question marks. Question marks that in and of themselves, wouldn't be deal breakers if there was something outstanding to balance them with. For example, a killer combine or a BCS busting season might make people forget all about the potential problems, but as it stands, Davis only has two pretty sour games and a mediocre combine to balance out numerous questions. That isn't the way to try and become the next great Sunday signal caller.

Mel Kiper, he of fame, and NFL Draft guru, still has Davis 5th on his big board, and with 6 teams (according to Kiper) with a QB in their top 3 needs, Davis' potential to go in the Top 3 or 4 rounds is still a good possibility. This is a marked shift from Kiper proclaiming Davis 3rd behind Matt Stafford and Mark Sanchez. Currently, Davis sits behind Josh Freeman of Kansas State and Pat White of West Virginia in Kiper's eligible QBs.

When the proverbial rubber hits the road in April for the draft, the bottom line is that if nothing changes between now and then in terms of Davis' positives, absolutely nothing will shock me. Nate could go in the Top 4 rounds, and I'd be ecstatic. And a little shocked. He could just as easily go undrafted, and I'd be equally shocked, but if the "interest" or lack thereof from NFL teams is believed, it isn't out of the realm of possibility. More than likely, Davis will end up somewhere around the late 4th or early 5th. Good, but not great, and nowhere near high enough to justify him foregoing his senior season.

The thing to remember for Davis and Ball State fans is that "When" is nowhere near as important as "Who". For long term success, Davis needs to land on a team where a young icon is not firmly entrenched as QB1 on the depth chart. Andre Woodson of Kentucky found out just how hard it is when that happens, as he was drafted and subsequently released by the New York Giants. Teams like the Colts, Bears, and 49ers have all expressed some interest in Davis at one point or another, and all of those would be phenomenal fits for 13.

Regardless of the messy details of how Davis ends up in the league, it will be an uphill struggle for him to have sustained success, especially as a starter. We wish Nate Davis the best of luck, and frankly, I think he's going to need it.


Anonymous said...

Someone had best get Nate prepared for his long and future career of the janitorial arts. Hell, he might even make a decent high school QB coach... Class A.

RV said...

The Bears and 49ers would be horrible for Nate. Sitting on the bench doesn't do any good if he's learning how to grow a neck beard or just flatout suck balls.

Papa Lou BSU said...

I would love to see him in Chicago and succeed. But this town chews up and spits out QBs, even when they take the team to the Super Bowl (see Grossman, Rex).

Seriously, though, you let Whitlock off way too easily here. It's pretty clear that he had at least some involvement in convincing him to leave (at minimum, he spent all season pumping the guy up in his columns as the best QB in the country).

It's one thing to use your column and platform to take potshots at school administrators, whose career paths won't be affected by stuff like that. It's quite another to use a kid as a pawn in your vendetta game, as Jason did, and end up potentially screwing the kid out of millions of dollars. (To say nothing of his completely false and unfair slander of Stan Parrish).

I'm waiting for the next Whitlock column where he blames Nate's plummeting draft stock on a nefarious plot by Jo Ann Gora...