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'It's surreal': Titans pick Western Michigan’s Davis at No. 5

David Goricki
The Detroit News
Western Michigan's Corey Davis reacts after being picked No. 5 overall by the Tennessee Titans.

Corey Davis was rewarded for staying at Western Michigan for his senior season, getting stronger to help him get the majority of the 50-50 balls to get the attention of NFL general managers and head coaches.

Davis used his size (6-foot-3, 215 pounds) and 4.4 speed to help the Broncos win the Mid-American Conference championship and earn a Cotton Bowl appearance while finishing his career as a FBS record holder.

Davis was picked No. 5 overall in the first round of Thursday night’s NFL draft by the Tennessee Titans to make him the highest pick in Broncos’ history and richer than he could have ever imagined, possibly in the $10 million range — or higher.

“It’s surreal,” Davis said in an interview on Sirius Radio. “I did think (I’d be in the green room longer), I’m not even going to lie to you, I did. Bronco Nation stand up. Everything I have is because of them. I’ve come a long way. That was my only offer coming out of high school so I have to show love to them.”

Davis said former Western Michigan coach P. J. Fleck was in Philadelphia for the draft to be a part of his great night.

Davis becomes the first receiver from the MAC to be picked in the first round since future Hall of Famer Randy Moss of Marshall was picked No. 21 overall by the Vikings in 1998. He was also the first Western Michigan player to be picked in the first round since defensive end Jason Babin went No. 27 overall by Houston in 2004. He was the highest pick for the Broncos since safety Louis Delmas was grabbed by the Lions in the second round (No. 33 overall) in 2009.

If Davis could equal the performance of the last MAC player to be picked No. 5 overall, he’ll have a great start to his career. Buffalo linebacker Khalil Mack was picked fifth in the 2014 draft by Oakland, earning Associated Press NFL Defensive Player of the Year honors this past fall.

Davis finished his senior season with 97 receptions for 1,500 yards and a nation-leading 19 touchdown catches for the 13-1 Broncos, whose lone loss came to Wisconsin in the Cotton Bowl.

Davis had 332 receptions and an FBS record 5,285 receiving yards and 52 touchdowns for his career. His 51 touchdown receptions thrown to him by Zach Terrell tied an FBS record for a duo.

Now, Davis can’t wait to start his working relationship with Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota who had an outstanding second season, throwing for 3,426 yards and 26 touchdowns with just nine interceptions.

“It’s going to be a lot of fun playing with that guy,” Davis said of Mariota. “He’s a great leader.”

No doubt, what attracted Davis to NFL scouts and GMs was his versatility, the ability to play in the slot or from the outside position. And, Davis showed his ability to get the job done from both spots.

Still, there were doubts about Davis’ health after he missed the Senior Bowl with a shoulder injury then tore two ligaments in his ankle, which required surgery in late January and forced him to miss the NFL combine.

Davis had said earlier this week that he was disappointed that he missed the Senior Bowl and the NFL combine because they were “once-in-a-lifetime opportunities” and he wanted to showcase his talent at the events.

“I could be out on the field right now,” said Davis after getting drafted, noting he is getting closer to 100 percent.

The Broncos are expected to have another player picked during the second day of the NFL Draft Friday with 6-5, 320-pound offensive lineman Taylor Moton of Okemos on the second-round radar.

Moton is also known for his versatility, starting his first two years at tackle before moving to guard his junior year and back to tackle for his senior season, earning first-team All-MAC honors.

MAC first-round draft picks (since 1998):

2017 – Corey Davis, WR, Western Michigan – Tennessee (No. 5)

2014 – Khalil Mack, LB, Buffalo – Oakland (No. 5)

2014 – Jimmie Ward, DB, Northern Illinois – San Francisco (No. 30)

2013 – Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan – Kansas City (No. 1)

2011 – Muhammad Wilkerson, DT, Temple – New York Jets (No. 30)

2009 – Larry English, DE, Northern Illinois – San Diego (No. 16)

2007 – Joe Staley, OT, Central Michigan – San Francisco (No. 28)

2004 – Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Miami – Pittsburgh (No. 11)

2004 – Jason Babin, DE, Western Michigan – Houston (No. 27)

2003 – Byron Leftwich, QB, Marshall – Jacksonville (No. 7)

2000 – Chad Pennington, QB, Marshall – New York Jets (No. 18)

1999 – L.J. Shelton, OT, Eastern Michigan – Arizona (No. 21)

1998 – Randy Moss, WR, Marshall – Minnesota (No. 21)

david.goricki@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @DavidGoricki