GREEN BAY, Wis. – At Springfield (Ohio) High School, Danny Davis earned a starting spot on the basketball team as a freshman.
At the University of Wisconsin, Davis was a standout receiver for the Badgers as a freshman, including a school bowl-game record three touchdowns in the Orange Bowl vs. Miami.
With the Green Bay Packers, can Davis once again make a Year 1 impact?
It won’t be easy, of course. Davis joined the Packers as an undrafted free agent, joining a receiver room that went from incredibly weak to incredibly strong (from a numbers perspective, at least) in short order. On April 14, the team signed veteran Sammy Watkins. On April 29, it moved up in the second round to take North Dakota State’s Christian Watson. On April 30, the Packers added Nevada’s Romeo Doubs in the fourth round and Nebraska’s Samari Toure in the seventh round.
That’s a lot of fresh faces joining established veterans Allen Lazard and Randall Cobb, 2021 third-round pick Amari Rodgers, and holdovers Juwann Winfree and Malik Taylor. Along with Rico Gafford and Chris Blair, the Packers’ receiver room is 12 deep. Between 53-man roster and the practice squad, they might carry eight into the regular season.
Considering the run-first nature of the Wisconsin offense, Davis put up good numbers during his collegiate career with 131 receptions for 1,642 yards (12.5 average) and 14 touchdowns. After missing most of the 2020 season with a head injury, he caught 32 balls for 478 yards (14.9 average) and two touchdowns in 2021.
Two things help his game.
First, it’s his basketball background after scoring a school-record 1,774 points at Springfield.
“It's just like going to get a rebound and blocking the DB out,” Davis told UWBadgers.com after catching eight passes for 99 yards vs. Penn State in September. “It really is just like boxing somebody out. It definitely transitions. I'd say basketball has helped me tremendously with football in attacking the ball in the air and being physical with DB's.”
Second, it’s his excellent hands. According to Pro Football Focus, he had 30 catches and zero drops in 2019 and 26 catches and one drop in 2021. He made the play on 61.9 percent of contested-catch opportunities the last three seasons.
However, at 6-foot 3/8 he’s only a modest athlete with 4.62 speed in the 40 and a 31.5-inch vertical jump. And the concussion no doubt was a factor in why he wasn’t drafted. Not only was it a reason why he played in only two games in 2020, but he “continued to have setbacks” into the spring.
But Davis had a quality final season for the Badgers and has a chance to extend his professional career.
“I didn’t like how it ended,” Davis said before the 2021 season. “There wasn’t really anything I could’ve done about it to get back. But I knew I had one more go at it. So, I was excited. I wasn’t excited when it first happened. But after a while, everything happens for a reason. That’s what my grandma told me. I just gave it to God and tried to make the best decision for me and for this team.”