It’s a matchup between Tennessee’s two first-round picks we’ll be watching closely this summer, and it could quickly tell us a lot about each of them as they head into potentially big opportunities in their rookie seasons.
We’ll expect Davis to take advantage of the size mismatch and Jackson to show how his size won’t be an issue when he runs into big wideouts around the NFL.
“That’s a good thing that you have a big receivers you go up against in practice, because it gets you ready for your opponents,” Jackson said Thursday night after the Titans spent the 18th overall pick on him. “I think you just have to be disciplined in your technique and disciplined in your fundamentals and understanding what’s going on in the game.
“So before the snap, you’ve got to have all your pre-snap keys together and once you do that, that should reduce all the stress from people saying, ‘Oh, that’s a big guy and that’s a small guy.’”
Titans general manager Jon Robinson said Jackson has good instincts and really good ball skills.
“He’s played against some big receivers, played against Alabama and had a good game, played against Washington, had a good game,” Robinson said. “He’ll be competitive. He’s a competitive guy. He’ll fight and scrap and get himself in position to make a play.”
The Titans love knowing they’ve got an accurate quarterback in Marcus Mariota who will be throwing to Davis, the No. 5 pick in the draft, who’s very good with the ball in his hands.
Per Pro Football Focus, Davis averaged 8.1 yards after the catch for a three-year total of 2,143 yards, just under 50 percent of his total receiving yards. (Robinson calls it RAC, run after catch, thinking of YAC as yards after contact.)
The Titans came out of the first round with football-first playmakers on both sides of the ball.
Robinson has shown a knack for evaluating talent since he took over as GM following the 2015 season. He and head coach Mike Mularkey have done very well to home in on the kind of guys they want and have added a bunch of them.
Jackson said he’ll eagerly do whatever is asked. We know he’s hardly risk-averse, though he’s surely matured as a decision-maker. As an 8-year-old, he raced through warning gates to get across the tracks before an oncoming train arrived because he was late getting home in Belleville, Illinois.
Davis spoke of the cultural buy-in to what the Titans are doing.
“We love competition, competitive guys, guys that will fight,” Robinson said. “I think that was evidenced last year when we took Jack [Conklin]. Jack was a former walk-on that scratched and clawed his way and ended up being a first-round pick.
“Corey did the same thing at Western Michigan; he had one [scholarship] offer and turned himself into a top-10 pick.”