Spring headlines around the NFL should always be taken with a grain of salt. However, dismissing them out of hand is equally foolish as taking them as gospel, and for that reason, Green Bay Packers fans must pay attention to a player who has largely been an afterthought this offseason.
That player is Trevor Davis, the former University of California wideout who was a fifth-round draft pick back in 2016. Davis, who is entering his fourth year in the NFL, has to this point been almost entirely a non-factor as a receiver, only making special teams contributions as a gunner and return man. Indeed, Davis has just eight career receptions for 94 yards and one touchdown, compared to 448 yards on punt returns and another 791 yards on kickoff returns.
However, the word out of Packers OTAs and now the first day of minicamp suggest that Davis is a different player at this point in 2019, and that he will threaten to make noise on offense for the first time. Head coach Matt LaFleur praised Davis’ work this offseason on Tuesday afternoon: “A guy who is forgotten a little bit is Trevor Davis. He’s made a lot of great plays down the field,” he said. “I’ve been really impressed with him, I feel like he’s come a long way. I think the effort, the intensity level at which he practices has certainly improved. I’m excited for him come training camp.”
That answer from LaFleur came largely unprompted after he rattled off a list of the young receivers who have impressed him in the spring. For now, Marquez Valdes-Scantling is running with the first-team — notably ahead of Geronimo Allison on Tuesday when the Packers opened up with two boundary receivers, suggesting that Allison is destined for a primary role in the slot — and MVS got the first name-check from his coach. LaFleur also mentioned the other contenders, Equanimeous St. Brown, J’Mon Moore, and Jake Kumerow, before getting to Davis. But once he had the opportunity to talk about the fourth-year pro, he went on for a while.
With Davis’ impressive speed — 4.42 seconds in the 40 at the 2016 Combine, with a blistering start of 1.51 seconds in the first ten yards — it’s not difficult to see where he could potentially fit into the offense. He could provide the Packers with a tantalizing deep threat on the boundary opposite Davante Adams. Of course, Valdes-Scantling appears to have the starting job in that role largely carved out, but Davis’ ability to make tacklers miss when the ball is in his hands adds another dimension to his game.
Still, Davis may need more than just intensity and a few nice deep balls in training camp to guarantee himself a spot on the 53-man roster come September. After all, the rest of the players competing for roster spots seem to draw similar praise to this point. But what likely distinguishes Davis from the other is, of course, his return ability.
Special teams coordinator Shawn Mennenga touched on that area when he spoke on Tuesday. “(Trevor has) continued to get better through the spring and (I’m) excited about where he’s trending to and where he’s projecting to,” Mennenga told reporters. “He’s got a lot of big-play ability.” However, Davis’ abilities on coverage units is as important to Mennenga as his return ability: “The thing I think people forget about is he’s also a very good cover player. He’s a very good gunner and he’s a very good cover player on kickoffs. To get a guy who can return both punts and kickoffs and cover kicks is invaluable.”
Ultimately, Davis may earn his roster spot based largely on his special teams abilities. But if he does get a spot on the 53, expect LaFleur and company to find roles and opportunities for him on offense. Through 29 games over three years, Davis played a total of 193 offensive snaps. Based on recent comments, he might hit that number again in 2019 alone if he makes the squad.