Can Chargers Draft Pick, Derius Davis, Be The Answer At Punter Returner? 

Will The Chargers Draft Pick, Derius Davis, be the new DeAndre Carter? Could he be even better?

I wrote a couple of weeks ago about the possible need for a return specialist on the Chargers after the loss of DeAndre Carter. The Chargers draft pick in the fourth round could be the answer. The wide receiver Derius Davis from TCU is not only a speed threat at receiver but a player who could be a prominent feature on the special teams front in the 2023 season.

NFL: Combine
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The Stats on Davis Special Teams Experience

Davis brings a lot of experience to the position unit having played 425 special teams snaps over the course of his college career. His NFL combine analysis said that he “should offer immediate competition as a punt returner” and one of his strengths was that he “returned five punts for TDs during his college career.”

Over the seasons that Davis played special teams, he had an average of 22.9 return yards per attempt across all seasons on kickoff returns, his longest kickoff return being 100 yards in 2021. And for punt returns, his average return yards per attempt across all seasons played was 14.3, with his longest being 82 yards in 2022. Though he did have more touchdowns from punt returns, he also had a touchdown on a kickoff return in 2021.

NCAA Football: West Virginia at Texas Christian
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Why Davis Excels on Special Teams

Speed. Davis is hard to catch and that’s obvious from watching any of his reels. He had the second fastest time on the 40-yard dash of all wide receivers at the combine of 4.36 seconds and the fastest time of the position group during the 10-yard split of 1.46 seconds. According to the analysis from the combine he was a “high school sprint champ with speed galore” and his “instant acceleration defeats pursuit angles.” The fact that he has such a natural knack for running and so much experience on special teams will definitely help as goes to this next level.

NCAA Football: Texas Christian at Baylor
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Will The Chargers Draft Pick Be the Go-To Guy?

Tom Telesco on Day 3 of the draft emphasized that Davis will be more in a returner role as opposed to a receiving role for now. Brandon Staley indicated in his press conference on the same day that they’re comfortable with Davis in that dual returner role. Linebacker Daiyan Henley, who was drafted in the third round at the 85th pick, also played 630 special teams snaps throughout his time in college, and on Day 2 of the draft, Telesco did say that his special teams experience was part of the reason he was drafted.

The Chargers have used offensive and defensive players at the return specialist position, so it could be anyone’s role to take, but Davis’ success, coupled with the comments from Telesco and Staley, and his raw speed, seem to indicate that he’ll be the next DeAndre Carter for the team.