Player Points - Vernon Davis
By Chase Stuart
June 2nd, 2010

It's hard to say that Vernon Davis came out of nowhere: the 6th pick in the 2006 draft, Davis (along with Kellen Winslow, Jr.) was drafted earlier than any tight end over the last 35 years. He had one of the all-time great performances at the NFL combine, running the 40-yard dash in 4.38 seconds, bench pressing 225 pounds 33 times, and having a 42" vertical leap, all while weighing 254 pounds. He could legitimately be considered the most freakishly athletic player in a league full of them. So it's not like no one knew that Vernon Davis had potential; it's just that no one expected him to realize so much of it in 2009.

Davis tied Antonio Gates' single-season touchdown record by a tight end last year, to go along with nearly 1,000 receiving yards. Davis had a typical rookie season for a tight end, which is to say, he didn't do much. As a second-year starter, though, he had over 500 yards in 14 games, good enough for a 12th-place fantasy finish. But his 358 yards and two TDs in 16 games in 2008 made many fantasy owners bitter; as a result, he had an ADP of TE19 entering last season. In fact, of the 30 tight ends to rank in the top 3 in a single season over the past 10 years, no one had as low an ADP in that season as Davis did. The table below shows each of the 30 tight ends' average draft position, along with how many games he played in, his fantasy rank, and his fantasy points per game, in both the season before and the season in question.

Player
Year
ADP
Team
Games N-1
Rnk N-1
FP/G N-1
Games N
F Rnk N
FP/G N
Vernon Davis
2009
19
SFO
16
27
4.0
16
2
13.3
Marcus Pollard
2001
17
IND
16
12
4.8
16
2
9.1
Jason Witten
2004
14
DAL
15
21
3.9
16
3
11.1
Todd Heap
2002
11
BAL
12
33
2.9
16
1
9.8
Antonio Gates
2004
10
SDG
15
20
4.2
15
2
14.3
Jason Witten
2007
9
DAL
16
10
7.1
16
1
12.8
Freddie Jones
2000
7
SDG
16
5
6.7
16
3
8.9
Todd Heap
2005
6
BAL
6
24
--
16
2
10.3
Shannon Sharpe
2003
6
DEN
13
5
9.0
15
2
10.4
Dallas Clark
2008
5
IND
15
6
10.6
15
3
10.6
Alge Crumpler
2006
5
ATL
16
5
9.4
16
3
9.6
Jeremy Shockey
2005
5
NYG
15
7
8.9
15
3
10.9
Tony Gonzalez
2006
4
KAN
16
7
8.8
15
2
10.4
Dallas Clark
2009
4
IND
15
3
10.6
16
1
13.9
Jeremy Shockey
2002
4
NYG
NCAA
NCAA
NCAA
15
3
9.2
Tony Gonzalez
2008
4
KAN
16
2
12.3
16
1
13.4
Todd Heap
2003
3
BAL
16
1
9.8
16
3
7.4
Shannon Sharpe
2000
3
BAL
5
32
--
16
2
9.0
Antonio Gates
2009
2
SDG
16
4
9.3
16
3
12.7
Tony Gonzalez
2007
2
KAN
15
2
10.4
16
2
12.3
Antonio Gates
2005
2
SDG
15
2
14.3
15
1
14.3
Tony Gonzalez
2003
2
KAN
16
2
9.4
16
1
11.7
Shannon Sharpe
2001
2
BAL
16
2
9.0
16
3
8.1
Antonio Gates
2006
1
SDG
15
1
14.3
16
1
11.4
Jason Witten
2008
1
DAL
16
1
12.8
16
2
10.1
Tony Gonzalez
2004
1
KAN
16
1
11.7
16
1
13.7
Antonio Gates
2007
1
SDG
16
1
11.4
16
3
11.9
Tony Gonzalez
2001
1
KAN
16
1
13.8
16
1
10.4
Tony Gonzalez
2000
1
KAN
15
1
12.6
16
1
13.8
Tony Gonzalez
2002
1
KAN
16
1
10.4
16
2
9.4

What's interesting is that seventy percent of the tight ends that ended the season in the top-three had a pre-season ADP inside the top five. For the most part, great tight ends don't usually come out of nowhere like they do at other positions. With Davis, the question was never the talent but whether the production would ever meet the potential. He answered that question in a big way in 2009.

Questions, suggestions and comments are always welcome to stuart@footballguys.com.