For a few brief moments in mid-October Felton Davis looked like a wide receiver who was on his way to a huge senior season and a likely spot in the NFL Draft.
The Michigan State senior had eight catches for 100 yards at Penn State, his last catch coming in the final seconds to give the Spartans the winning touchdown in a 21-17 victory over the Nittany Lions. At 6-foot-3, Davis was coming off a junior season in which he had 55 receptions for 776 yards and was on pace to far surpass those numbers in 2018.
However, a week later in a matchup against Michigan, Davis crumbled to the ground at the snap, his Achilles tendon ruptured and his season ended.
A player many believed would be picked by the end of the second day of the draft was suddenly spending his offseason rehabilitating and trying to convince teams he’d be good to go by training camp.
When the 2019 NFL Draft concluded on Saturday, Davis had not heard his name called. There were 28 receivers taken, but Davis was not one.
However, later on Saturday night, Michigan State announced that Davis had signed a free-agent deal with the Kansas City Chiefs.
“I think when you look at the wide receiver group in general, I think Felton Davis could still be a late-round pick,” ESPN analyst Mel Kiper Jr. said during the week. “It just depends upon when they were right. Did you see them in the game when it indicated that they could be future pros? That’s one of those hit-or-miss things for Day 3.”
Davis attended the NFL Combine but was unable to work out. He’s been running since then and is close to getting back to working out with the plan to be 100 percent by the time training camp begins.
“The injury kind of changed me to the point where I work harder than anybody out here now,” Davis said in March at the Combine. “There’s nobody that’s been put in the position that I was put in and it kind of burns something deep down.
“It’s all mental. It’s just something you’ve got to fight within yourself. That’s the person you’re dealing with, the man in the mirror.”
Davis wasn’t the only one who expected to be selected Saturday.
Running back LJ Scott did not get drafted after opting to not return for a fifth season by playing in the Redbox Bowl, his fifth game of the season. Scott, who was Michigan State’s leading rusher in each of his first three seasons, was bothered most of 2018 by a bad ankle.
“LJ Scott, I don't think he'll get picked,” NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah said this week. “I have him as kind of a seventh-round priority free-agent type. There's just too many other running backs that have kind of pushed him down the board.”
Several reports late Saturday said Scott signed with the Baltimore Ravens while two other former Spartans also inked free-agent deals. Linebacker Andrew Dowell signed with the Dallas Cowboys and tight end Matt Sokol signed with the Los Angeles Chargers.
Other Michigan State players who did not get drafted but will be hoping to sign as free agents include offensive lineman David Beedle and linebacker Jon Reschke.