I have a prospect for you all today that generated some chatter in fantasy football twitter land after his impressive showing against Utah in the Alamo Bowl… and really all of 2019 in general. And that would (of course) be Devin Duvernay, the senior slot receiver for the Texas Longhorns.
After starting his career at Texas quietly with just 70 receptions for 1082 yards and 7 touchdowns combined from freshman through junior year, Duvernay broke out in a big way his senior year, coming in third in the nation with 106 receptions in 2019, an average of 8.15 per game. Only SMU’s James Proche and LSU’s Justin Jefferson had more with 111 each.
Duvernay’s 1386 receiving yards ranked fifth in the nation and were good for an average of 106.6 yards per game. He also added 9 receiving touchdowns along with one more on the ground. Included in this statistical output were seven games of over 100 receiving yards and three games of double-digit receptions.
To put up numbers like that, Duvernay had several great games en route to First Team All-Big 12 honors, but it was his performance against LSU that really impressed me the most.
After being held to just one catch in the first half of the game, Duvernay went crazy in the second half, hauling in 11 passes and making that LSU secondary packed with future first-round NFL Draft selections look silly. He finished this game with 12 receptions for 154 yards and 2 touchdowns.
The key catalyst to Duvernay’s sudden success can be traced back to his switch from boundary receiver to the slot before the season began. But this doesn’t make his success necessarily a surprise. In fact, it’s arguable this is the player Duvernay was supposed to be all along. He just needed to find the right position.
As a former highly-rated four-star athlete out of high school, Duvernay was ranked as the nation’s #5 receiver in the class of 2016 according to 24/7. He was an All-American and two-time All-State in Texas, according to his player profile at TexasSports.com.
Duvernay is a wicked-fast receiver. In high school, he ran the 100-meter dash in 10.27 seconds and was timed at 4.38 in the 40. He will likely run in the 4.3s at the NFL Combine this offseason. Along with being a burner, Duvernay might very well have the best hands in the nation and has no problem with drops at all. He is a natural pass catcher with exceptional concentration and awareness.
I would point to a play he made against Maryland in 2018 where he made a full-extension diving catch for a touchdown. This play requires immense concentration… and athleticism to pull off. And that short two-sentence description simply doesn’t do it justice, this is a play you’ll have to check out for yourself.
Another play that impressed me was one he made in 2019 against Oklahoma State where he made a fantastic catch in the back corner of the end zone and had the presence of mind to get both feet inbounds, despite only one foot being required in college. Part of me thinks he was showing off for pro scouts.
Along with the high-end speed and catching ability, Duvernay tracks the ball well and creates separation from defenders on vertical routes. He’s also a YAC machine and runs angry with the ball in his hands, running through arm tackles, bouncing off of shoulder tackles and possessing some moves after the catch you’d expect to see out of a running back.
This makes some sense though. At 5’11”/210 pounds, Duvernay’s built like a running back. However, also similarly to the typical running back, Duvernay isn’t the greatest of route runners and he needs to develop more in this area. With the right coaching, he will. The athleticism is there for him to make strides and become a more complete receiver.
Duvernay won’t be drafted day one but I can see him sneaking into the end of day two, as he does have all the ingredients necessary to be a good, solid NFL receiver. He just needs the opportunity, and there is definitely a team that will give that to him. Personally, I’d love to see him get drafted by my Detroit Lions. Danny Amendola is aging, and they could use a slot receiver…
Some parting information on Devin Duvernay: he’s a former First-Team Academic All-Big 12, Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray is his cousin, he has a twin brother, Donovan, who played defensive back for the Texas Longhorns, and we’ll get to see more of him against top-level talent in the 2020 Senior Bowl.
All in all, this is a talented player flying way under the radar in a dynasty context. Duvernay can be drafted in the fourth, maybe even fifth round or later of rookie drafts. However, I have a feeling he’s going to destroy the Combine and his value is going to go up in the coming months. In PPR formats, high-volume slot receivers are highly-valued commodities and Duvernay is a great one to take a shot on in a dynasty league.