2022 NFL Draft Profile: Hawaii CB Cortez Davis
The Warriors cornerback did yeoman’s work on the islands over the past three years. Will he get a look from the National Football League?
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A project worth taking on?
Hawaii football tends to be more well-known for its historical contributions to college football on offense, but that does a disservice to defensive athletes like Cortez Davis.
A native of Decatur, Georgia, Davis spent three years as an integral part of the Warriors’ defensive backfield after committing to FCS Chattanooga out of high school and then transferring to the junior college ranks. In his first year, 2019, Hawaii won the West thanks in part to his 13 passes defended; in 2021, he led the entire country with 18 more. In between, offenses found themselves reluctant to throw his way.
After having some of the most literally active hands anywhere in the land, however, has Davis shown enough to hear his name called at the NFL Draft?
Measurables (taken from Dane Brugler and DraftScout.com)
Height – 5′ and 10″
Weight – 181 pounds
40-yard time – 4.56 seconds
10-yard split time – 1.58 seconds
Arm length – 31 3/8″
Hand size – 8 3/8″
Wingspan – 74 5/8″
Vertical jump – 31 1/2″
Broad jump – N/A
Shuttle time – 4.33 seconds
3-cone drill time – 7.06 seconds
Bench press – 15 reps
You would think over the course of three seasons, teams would have learned to not throw it anywhere near Cortez Davis! #SeniorWeek #WinEveryDay pic.twitter.com/PxTRte76Zg
— Hawaii Football (@HawaiiFootball) November 19, 2021
One thing that Cortez Davis has going for him is that, despite a lackluster 40 time, there’s more than adequate game speed and reaction ability which helps him stay in coverage and recover down the field when necessary. He’s also a very willing tackler despite a lack of size, racking up 131 tackles and eight tackles for loss across his three years as a starter, and knows how to wrap up a receiver in space.
Then there are the hands. From 2019 to 2021, Davis was one of just eleven FBS defenders with two or more passes defended in at least seven different games, and despite just two career interceptions, it’s perhaps worth noting one of them was a pick-six. Combined with what NFL Draft Buzz calls “good instincts and anticipation”, he knows how to win when in the mix with a receiver and has proven he can do it often.
While it’s not a total dealbreaker by any stretch, it is worth noting that Davis is definitely on the lighter side in this year’s cornerback class. His weight is in the ninth percentile historically among NFL Combine participants, meaning that he may need to bulk up a bit to find more success in press coverage against more physical imposing pass catchers over the long run.
It may be that he’ll be asked to play more as a slot corner as a result, which would be a departure from what he typically did with the Warriors. According to Pro Football Focus, he spent 905 snaps last year as an outside cornerback and just 33 inside, so proving that he can do more with his skill set could also be paramount.
Undersized cornerbacks aren’t really all the rage these days in the NFL — at least unless your name is, say, Asante Samuel Jr. — so Davis may have an uphill climb relative to many of his peers to stick in the pros. As it is, however, I think some team is going to look at how active he’s been in coverage over the past few years and take a flyer so someone else can’t, so Cortez Davis may have to wait a while to hear his name, but I expect that he will be a seventh-round pick who’ll get his chance to earn a roster spot.