The Washington Redskins selected WR Robert Davis with the 209th pick in the 2017 NFL Draft following his strong four-year collegiate career at Georgia State. Davis left the program as the Panthers’ all-time leading receiver, breaking records previously held by Kansas City Chiefs receiver Albert Wilson.
In an exclusive interview for Draft Breakdown, Davis reflected on his journey to the NFL, starting with the lone scholarship offer out of high school right up to draft weekend. Davis spoke candidly about the wait to hear his name called, whether he was surprised Washington drafted him based on their pre-draft interest, what Redskins coach Jay Gruden said once he called him, how he’s fitting in with his pro team so far, and much more. Enjoy.
JM: Thanks for joining us today Robert.
Davis: Thank you for having me.
JM: You had just the one scholarship offer coming out of high school. What did that do to your work ethic?
Davis: Like you said, I wasn’t heavily recruited. I only had one offer coming out of high school which was Georgia State. They made me an offer after they watched me play basketball actually. When you find yourself in that situation, you kind of start to approach everything with a boulder on your shoulder, and I always say a boulder instead of a chip because I feel like I approached my situation with so much more. It definitely made me work harder just because I learned what it feels like to be overlooked and I never want to feel that again. That situation definitely drove me to work a lot harder.
JM: How would you describe your skill-set to our readers?
Davis: If I can say anything, I’d say that I’m really athletic with good hands. I’ve been working on refining my route running; I’m trying to improve that on a daily basis right now. I’m definitely a guy who’s really athletic and I can stretch the field.
Davis is a refined route runner who does a nice job working back to his quarterback when necessary.
Davis runs a clean slant here, and he knows where the first down marker is.
JM: Take us back to draft weekend. Was the wait to hear your name called agonizing? Did you have a huge draft party?
Davis: I didn’t have a huge draft party. I just had a couple of my really close friends, guys I call my brothers. There were really just three or four of us, and my girlfriend was there as well. The rest of it was just my family, the ones I grew up in my household with. I can’t really say that it was a fun experience while it was going on because of the stress that goes along with it [laughs]. When I finally saw my name go across the screen, I was on the phone with coach Jay Gruden, it made the whole experience 100% worth it. It was definitely a memorable experience, one that I’ll remember for the rest of my life.
JM: When exactly did coach Gruden call you, and what did he have to say?
Davis: In a nutshell, he asked me if I was ready to be a Washington Redskin. Coach Gruden called me one pick before they came on the clock. I think it was the Arizona Cardinals on the clock one pick before Washington selected me. The Cardinals were making their selection when I got the phone call. At that point, my family and my friends started cheering and what not.
JM: Honestly speaking, did you feel like the Redskins showed a ton of interest in you pre-draft, or were you surprised when they picked you?
Davis: I was very surprised. I had heard from a lot of teams before the draft but the Washington Redskins were actually one of the only teams in the league I had not heard from. I never got a single call from them or anything like that. It was a bit of a surprise for me.
JM: How did OTA’s go? Coach Gruden had some nice things to say about you.
Davis: It’s going well. It’s definitely a learning experience and it’s an adjustment. I’m really adjusting to the speed of the game as of late. It’s all about being able to go in and take mental reps because as of right now, we’re learning the playbook and you don’t get a ton of physical reps while doing that. There’s a big difference in the language of the offense from college to the pros. I’m just taking as many mental reps as I can. I’m getting an opportunity to watch guys like Terrell Pryor who they just brought in recently. Guys like Ryan Grant and Maurice Harris are above me, I’m just watching how they do things and how they prepare and perform, and I try and emulate that. I put that into my game so that when it is my turn to play, I’ll be ready.
JM: They’ve got a good, veteran receiver group down there. You mentioned a couple of your teammates there, has anyone specific giving you the best piece of advice you’ve heard so far?
Davis: They’ve all given me a lot of great advice, especially Terrell Pryor. Terrell and Maurice Harris have been great, but all the receivers have given me terrific advice. I really couldn’t even single one of them out to be honest. They’ve pretty much just telling me that it’s a process and that I can’t expect to be an overnight success. You don’t become a great NFL receiver overnight. It doesn’t happen like that. I’m just keeping my head on straight and I’m gonna’ keep grinding. I’m just putting my head down, going to work, and I’ll look up later to see where I’m at.
JM: You’ve got quite the receivers coach to work with.
Davis: Yes sir, Ike Hilliard.
JM: He played 12 years in the league and should have a ton to teach you. I imagine you’re working closely with him?
Davis: It’s been great. Anytime you have a coach who actually played the game, it’s always a bonus. He’s able to relate to everything you’re going through because he went through the same thing, especially with him being a 12 year NFL veteran who played the same exact position that he’s now coaching. Anytime you can have that, it’s always an advantage. He can pretty much see through your eyes and he can see what you’re seeing or not seeing on the field and in that way, he can better relate to you.
Davis possesses impressive ability after the catch.
JM: Is there one thing in particular that he has you working on every day?
Davis: As of right now, he’s just been telling me how to drop my weight a little bit better. With me being a longer, bigger receiver, it’s always going to be a little bit harder to make the transition out of breaks and things of that nature. He’s really just been preaching to me every day to have better leverage within my routes and things like that.
JM: Speaking of being athletic, you put up some big numbers at the combine, especially with your vertical and your broad jump. What was the overall experience like at the combine?
Davis: It was a great experience. It was one of those things that you always dream about as a kid. I grew up watching all those great players that you watch on TV now go through the combine at one point. To just be invited was a blessing in itself, and to be able to perform there, it was another blessing. It’s definitely not what you expect it to be, or at least it wasn’t what I expected it to be because of all the testing and stuff that you have to do before you actually hit the field. Once you hit the field, it’s just like you dreamed it would be.
JM: I can imagine. I’ve asked a ton of draftees this next question, and I’ve gotten some really great answers. What was the weirdest question a team asked you in a private meeting?
Davis: The weirdest one was what kind of fruit would I be? [laughs]
JM: what did you say? [laughs]
Davis: I said a banana. The reason I said that, I feel like if there was a fruit Olympics or something like that, a banana would probably be the most athletic fruit.
JM: If there was a fruit Olympics [laughs]. One guy told me he was asked if he was a cat or a dog.
Davis: I got asked that too [laughs].
JM: Jordan Leggett, the tight end from Clemson got into a starring contest with a scout.
Davis: Man, that’s crazy [laughs].
JM: You weren’t the only guy to get a few strange questions. In closing, how do you plan on attacking the rest of the off-season, and what can Redskins fans expect from you in the future?
Davis: I’m going to continue to take those mental reps that I mentioned earlier. I’m making sure that I’m taking really good care of my body and I’m learning as much as I can on a daily basis. There should never go a day where I don’t learn something new. Washington Redskins fans can expect me to be a hard worker. I know that I’m nowhere near where I could be as far as my potential goes. I’m really gonna’ work hard to reach that potential. That’s what fans can expect from me.