Marcus Davenport Scouting Report By Charlie Campbell
Tremendous run defender
Very physical in the ground game
Good bull rush
Power to get off blocks
Quick at the point of attack
Plays with good leverage
Excellent height and length
Has speed as a pass-rusher
Can close on the quarterback quickly
Needs lots of development
Late off the ball
Hesitates after snap
Doesn't know what he's seeing
Lacks pass-rushing moves
Summary: In every NFL draft, there are some small-school prospects who come out of nowhere to end up being highly sought after players. Davenport will keep that tradition alive for the 2018 NFL Draft, as the UTSA defensive end is the top small-school prospect this year.
Davenport had his best season of college football in his final year at UTSA. The senior racked up 55 tackles with 17.5 tackles for a loss, 8.5 sacks, four passes batted and three forced fumbles in 2017. Davenport recorded 6.5 sacks as a junior after racking up four as a sophomore. He has displayed the versatility to fit as a 4-3 base end or a 3-4 outside linebacker in the pro game.
Davenport is excellent for the ground game. He is strong at the point of attack and pushes around blockers. Davenport is able to hold his ground and stand up offensive tackles to maintain gap integrity. He has the strength to shed blocks and the quickness to close on backs to make tackles outside of his gap. Entering the NFL, Davenport is an excellent run defender.
In the pass rush, Davenport has an excellent bull rush. For a tall defensive end - he is just under 6-foot-6, Davenport plays with very good leverage. He doesn't stand up too high and stays low to get underneath the pads of offensive tackles. With his leverage and strength, Davenport has a very effective bull rush to get tackles rolling backward into the quarterback. Regularly, Davenport gets his blocker struggling backward before using his length and strength to shed the block and hit the quarterback. Davenport also has speed and agility off the edge. He has stood up over tackles as an edge-rushing linebacker for a 3-4 set, and looks natural doing that. With his quickness and athleticism, Davenport can close on the quarterback in a hurry after getting free. Davenport has the foot speed to be more of a speed rusher if he can improve his technique at the snap of the ball.
Davenport has a lot of areas for improvement for the NFL. Considering UTSA's level of competition, it isn't surprising that he is raw. Davenport definitely needs to add more pass-rushing moves because he is overly reliant on a bull rush. That is what he used on the majority of his rushes. One striking issue when watching Davenport is that he must improve his get-off. When the ball is snapped, Davenport takes a moment to size up what is going on rather than firing out of his stance. Team sources say that Davenport is raw to the point that he doesn't know what he is looking at on some plays.
At the Senior Bowl, Davenport's get-off was terrible; he was late off the ball on far too many snaps. Offensive tackles were quicker, getting a step out of their stances before Davenport even moved. That negated Davenport's ability to speed rush as tackles were ready; not beating them off the ball didn't allow Davenport to set up the next couple of steps running the arc around the corner. Davenport needs to add more speed-rushing moves, including a spin back to the inside. With his natural strength, he also should add a rip move and a club move. That would give him a more versatile arsenal to attack blockers and make him far more effective.
While Davenport will be a first-round pick who is expected to play right away, he really could use a redshirt year and some patience at the NFL level. That was given clear proof at the Senior Bowl, where he had some lowlights against the better competition than he was used to. The pro tackles will be bigger, quicker, stronger, and more athletic than the tackles in Mobile, who gave Davenport some problems. Whichever NFL team takes Davenport, it will need to take a long-term view of developing him for a year as a rotational player who is a run-down defender to start his career, with more progress and contributions as a pass-rusher being shown in the second year of his career. Then in Year 3, Davenport could be a more complete player who is producing at a good level in both phases. Expecting an immediately impactful player could lead to problems for Davenport and his pro team. One director of college scouting told me they think eventually Davenport will be a 8-10-sacks-per-year defender once he develops.
Scouts from multiple teams have told me that Davenport is a good player and impressed them in 2017, but they thought a top-16 pick is too high for him. They think the back half of the first round is feasible. With the 2018 NFL Draft being a weak year at defensive end, Davenport will benefit as teams will have a hard time passing on him knowing that the second-day talent at end is lacking. Davenport could rise during the leadup to the 2018 NFL Draft by impresssing during pre-draft workouts.
Player Comparison: Preston Smith. Davenport was a difficult player to form a comparison fro as he is very unique with his skill set as a talented, but raw, player coming out of a small school. Some players I considered were Derrick Morgan, Robert Ayers and Michael Johnson, but none of them really felt right to me. Thus, I went to a team's director of college scouting to get their take. Here is that opinion.
"I'm thinking Preston Smith as a [comparison] for Davenport. Davenport is a lot longer than Ayers and Derrick Morgan. Michael Johnson is more freakish athletically, but not as physical or nearly as strong versus the run coming out of college. Davenport is probably a little more athletic than Smith, and Davenport is expected to run better. Davenport could have more upside as a pass-rusher, but they are similar. Preston is an eight-sacks-per-year guy, and Davenport I think eventually will be an 8-10 sack guy. Davenport is really physical versus the run. He's sort of like a less explosive Jadeveon Clowney, a poor man's Clowney. Davenport is raw as hell though."
NFL Matches: Tampa Bay, San Francisco, Oakland, Miami, Green Bay, Seattle, Detroit, Los Angeles Rams, Carolina, Tennessee, New Orleans and New England
There are a lot of teams that could target Davenport in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft. This is a weak edge-rushing class, and that is a premium position in the NFL, so Davenport should have plenty of teams hoping to land him. With his ability to fit any scheme and be an edge rusher, Davenport will be in high demand.
Team sources say that going as a top-16 pick is too high for Davenport, but it isn't out of the realm of possibility that a team reaches on him. Tampa Bay needs to improve its edge rush. Davenport could form a tough tandem next to Gerald McCoy.
San Francisco 49ers general manager John Lynch has stated his team needs more edge-rushing talent, and Lynch isn't opposed to reaching in the first round. Many teams throughout the league had Solomon Thomas as late first-round, with some even grading him in the second round, yet Lynch took Thomas with the third-overall pick of the 2017 NFL Draft. Davenport could interest Lynch to go with Thomas, DeForest Buckner and Arik Armstead.
Staying in the Bay area, the Raiders badly need more front-seven talent. Davenport could be a good fit for Oakland as an edge rusher across from Khalil Mack.
Miami could consider Davenport in the first round, as the team could use an end to go across from Charles Harris. Green Bay also could use more edge talent, and Davenport could give the Packers some size and length.
Seattle could be real possibility for Davenport. Michael Bennett and/or Cliff Avril could be nearing the end of their time with the Seahawks. Davenport could make sense for Seattle as a long-term replacement.
The Lions need an edge-pass rusher to go across from Ziggy Ansah. Davenport would be a great fit. Likewise the Rams could use an end across from Robert Quinn.
Carolina can't count on Julius Peppers playing much longer, and Davenport would make sense as his replacement. The Titans also could use a young edge rusher. Their pass rush needs to be improved, and Davenport could fit as a long outside linebacker for Mike Vrabel. The Saints could use an end upgrade across from Cam Jordan. New England also needs more young talent at defensive end.