Big 12's Best Catch: Mike Davis Or Tracy Moore?
By Bill Lund
The Big 12 has featured some of the most prolific pass offenses in the country over the past few seasons. With aerial attacks across the conference occurring on a weekly basis, the opportunities for wide receivers to make a name for themselves is prominent.
Going into the 2013 season, two of the best wide receivers in the conference are Mike Davis of Texas and Tracy Moore of Oklahoma State. Both players were thought to be heading to the NFL after the 2012 season. Back in early 2013, Davis told ESPN’s Joe Schad, “This is about my family and finances. It’s a good time to take it to the next level. I enjoyed my time playing for Texas and it meant a lot to me,” only to declare later in the day, much to the joy of Longhorns fans, that he was returning for his senior season. Moore was actually on the Combine roster until an 11th-hour decision by the NCAA granting him another year of eligibility through a medical redshirt.
Now that the two have decided to return to their respective campuses, which one is the Big 12's best receiver prospect for the 2014 draft?
Mike Davis, Texas
Davis is a 6-foot-2, 193-pound prospect with great speed and downfield ability. Davis has steadily improved his numbers during his career at Texas. In 2012, he nearly doubled his yardage from his sophomore year with 939 yards on 57 catches with seven touchdowns. Even with the inconsistent play of the Longhorns quarterbacks, Davis has been able to make his biggest improvement in his yards per catch from 13.5 to 16.5.
With his numbers trending upward, Davis has shown he can be the deep threat the Longhorns envisioned. In 2012, he had nine catches for 35 yards or more and three more for 60 yards-plus. Against Texas Tech and Iowa State, he caught a 75-yard touchdown pass and a 61-yard touchdown pass, respectively. Davis’ speed allows him to separate from defenders downfield.
What really makes Davis remarkable is his ability to adjust to the ball in flight. He highlighted this with his late-game heroics against Oklahoma State’s Justin Gilbert, when he outjumped Gilbert for a catch that put the Longhorns in scoring range for the game-winning touchdown. Davis has an innate ability to see the ball’s flight and contort to make the catch. This skill is what distinguishes him from other wideouts.
He is a hands catcher and when given the opportunity to catch the ball in stride can make moves in the open field for additional yardage. Davis is also a solid blocker willing to do the little things to help his teammates.
Tracy Moore, Oklahoma State
Moore made a name for himself with a 45-catch, 672-yard 2011 season that was Brandon Weeden’s final year at Oklahoma State. The 2012 season began strong for Moore, with 20 receptions for 259 yards and four touchdowns in four games before a high ankle sprain ended Moore’s senior season. In January, the NCAA granted Moore a medical redshirt, giving him the opportunity to redo his senior season and a chance to challenge for the top WR spot in the Big 12.
At 6-2, 215, Moore has great size NFL scouts love to evaluate. In his debut game versus Arizona in 2012, he had 108 yards receiving along with four touchdowns, showing his combination of speed and power.
Moore may be a better slot receiver than an X receiver, given his ability to gain yards after the catch. He doesn’t possess blazing speed, but has enough to be dangerous. He is a natural hands catcher who uses his agility and power to eluded tacklers. He has shown the ability to adjust to the ball in the air and is a capable blocker in the pass-first Cowboys offense.
With a new offensive coordinator going into 2013 season, Moore’s return to being the primary target may be enough to boost his stock for the 2014 draft.
Who is the better draft prospect?
Davis has the clear edge. He possesses the size, speed and dynamic playmaking ability that NFL scouts want. He has established himself as a big-play threat downfield during the 2012 season. Moore was on the rise under the injury against Kansas ended his season. Moore has the ability to make plays in the open field but is not the big play threat Davis is at this point in their careers. Davis can play as an inside or outside receiver; Moore has similar ability but seems to be better suited to the slot.
All things being equal, Davis could emerge not only as the best WR in the Big 12 but could vie for the top receiver spot in the 2014 draft.