Davante Adams is widely considered the best in the NFL at winning off the line of scrimmage. The back-to-back All-Pro receiver tortures defensive backs off the snap, making himself available at any phase of the progression.
It's a marvel to watch Adams work off the line, gaining easy separation. Sometimes it seems as though the wideout bends cornerbacks to his will at every snap.
The Las Vegas Raiders receiver recently sat down with The Pivot Podcast and offered interesting insight into how he approaches each snap.
"I got a plan every time I get up to the line based off of what you're doing, and I put my Terminator mask on," Adams said. "And if you're right here in front of me, I drop down a scroll, three ideas of something that I want to do based off -- and this is pre-snap -- so that's when plan B kicks in based off what you do. 'Cause I come off and I got the patented -- I skip off and kind of hop off the ball, but it's really an illusion. And I could talk about it. I could talk about it all day. 'Cause at the end of the day, it's about the presentation.
"Like if you're in front of me and I make you feel like I really want to get inside, and I really show you everything that looks like I'm getting inside, you gotta respect that. And if you don't, I'm gonna go inside. I'm gonna figure out a way to go do it, you know what I'm saying? So, it's really about the route discipline, and I get up there, I scroll down -- three ideas of something I want to do, you right in my face, you playing soft shoe press, and you're about two yards off. Boom. I got three for that. You off five yards, and you squatting on me? I got three for that. I'm gonna get up to you. It's all about just killing that space and attacking. Making DBs uncomfortable. And then now it's real life. It ain't about them drills you did. Them backpedal drills you're gonna do. All of that is out the window when 1-7 is running full speed at you, and I'm gonna get this close before I make a move. It might be a plan B, but I'm gonna make it look like plan one."
Adams' comments get to the heart of why he's the top WR in the NFL and the best at winning at the line of scrimmage. Unlike some young wideouts, Adams doesn't predetermine his plan but instead has counters to whatever a corner might throw his way. The ability to have multiple options to win every route makes it incredibly difficult for defenders to know what's coming each snap.
The 29-year-old said his ability to win at the line started back in college with Derek Carr when the new Raiders duo carved up defenses at Fresno State. It was simple communication between the QB and WR that led to a mind-meld.
"(Carr) would be like 'Tae.' And I would know just based off coverage, we got zero," Adams said. "That ain't even a signal. He would look over like, 'Hey.' And I might have a slant, fade, right now. Throw it. Beat him off the line. And that's really where the releases started. And people started to give me that crown of being able to get of the line of scrimmage. It was a lot of situations where I got to win now. Especially, like I go to Green Bay and I'm playing with dudes like Jordy (Nelson) and Randall (Cobb). I got to show Aaron (Rodgers). If he looks over there like, 'he's ready to get this ball right now.' So that's why I started saucing dudes and doing that. But it really started at Fresno -- look over and get that look from Derek and then I know I'm up the sideline."
The chemistry between Carr and Adams at Fresno State is what makes their reunion in Vegas intriguing for the Raiders' chances in a tough AFC West. Carr hasn't had a player like Adams, who can win on any down, in years. Now the BFFs are together again and, by all accounts, have picked up where they left off.
"As far as expectations, I don't really have any," Adams said. "But as far as goals, it's no surprise. You know what the deal is. Every team sets out with the same goal in the end. We obviously got that in our back pocket. And we got the roster to do something special like that. ... You know what's on my mind. So, that's what I'm here for. I didn't come here just to be cute and hang out with Derek and do all of that. I want to get that trophy at the end of the year."
Adams' aspirations are higher than just being known as the best at winning off the line. The wideout is keenly aware that only 29 wide receivers are in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. It's a group he wants to join.
"I want to be in that Hall, man. It's only 29 at my position in there. And I think about that. I got that on my alarm clock when I wake up. 'Go get it for your girls' and '29' in there just to remind me every day," he said.
If Adams continues to terminate defensive backs and the Raiders meet lofty expectations in the next few years, the wideout could be sliding on that gold jacket down the road.
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