In reading all of the discussions and arguments concerning Anthony Davis in recent weeks, there seem to be two recurring memes that strike me as not quite correct.
Do these lines from Andre Smith's Wikipedia entry sound familiar?
At the 2009 NFL Combine, Smith weighed 332 pounds He also looked out of shape as he ran 40 yards shirtless, clocking at a slow 5.28, and had a disappointing 19 repetitions on the bench with 225 pounds.
As the argument goes, Smith similarly bombed at his Pro Day, and the media echo chamber subsequently declared that he was tumbling down the draft (at least Davis had the good sense to not forfeit his eligibility before a bowl game). Turns out in the end, not so much. All of that may have cost Smith the top five, but he landed at #9 with the Bengals. Cincy has a reputation for overlooking character issues, but he did end up with a decent team instead of, say, the Rams.
I see the obvious comparisons, but their skillsets do differ quite a bit. Davis jumped on everyone's radar with his stellar pass protection in 2008, while Smith was a devastating run blocker pegged as a likely move to Right Tackle. Furthermore, A.D. saw his play fall off as a junior, while actually Andre Smith was looking awesome last year against top competition in the SEC.
"When you put the uniform on and forget about all the outside stuff, I thought he was a heck of a player," said the national scout for an NFC team. "Athletic, good quickness, good balance at the block point and beyond. It was just the (offseason) preparation that went bad on him."
Michael Oher was, similar to Smith, more of a right tackle prospect. Those are quite valuable in their own right, but don't quite hold the cachet in the NFL as a pass protector who can completely shut down a quarterback's blind side from pressure. What do you know, "blind side" is the magic phrase accounting for the reason why Oher had sky high name recognition leading up to last year's draft, owing of course to the popular Michael Lewis book spawned from his earlier, widely read feature in the New York Times magazine.
Oher was the victim of a heartbreaking personal struggle, one which set him back far behind his peers, and that's what made his personal narrative so compelling and remarkable. That's understandable, although I never really thought that his play on the field corresponded to that level of hype and scrutiny. Davis can at least point to his sophomore tape and make the case that he can be a franchise left tackle. Oher was really just all promise and potential.
They are comparable in the sense that Oher "fell" to the Ravens. Landing in such a good situation may have been the best thing that could have happened for his career. That'd certainly be the case with Davis, although I think his pass blocking potential raises his floor by a fair amount. His best situation would be falling to the Packers at #23, although he'd surely sign up for the pressure (and paycheck) accompanying a top five or ten selection. It's hard to escape the feeling that offensive tackles are just so scarce, and Anthony's ceiling remains so high, that he isn't going to fall all that far when it only takes one team to pull the trigger on a draft pick.