Marcus Davenport - the name that’s been floating around NFL Draft media for the past two months.
A stature that makes scouts revel at the sight - 6’5”, 264 pounds - first stirred the Davenport pot at the end of the 2017 college football season, after he boasted C-USA’s Defensive Player of the Year Award. Murmurs soon turned to commentary amongst draft analysts about what the pass rush specialist could really offer at the next level. Though his size and highlight tape exceptional, overall grades were hindered because the level of competition he faced while at UTSA.
Then, the Senior Bowl rolled around, and the hype train got moving at top speed. Many of the unconvinced converted after Davenport sacked Heisman Trophy Winner Baker Mayfield on the opening series of the game. Others converted in the fourth quarter, when he seamlessly scooped a bouncing fumble off of the turf without breaking stride and ran it back to the house.
Now, any naysayers still persisting are completely out of ground to stand on after Davenport’s exceptional weekend at the NFL Combine.
Here’s how he looked by the numbers (as compared to the league’s current second-leading tackles for loss defender):
Marcus Davenport's 2018 Combine has been reminiscent of former #1 overall pick and 2-time Pro Bowler Jadeveon Clowney@UTSAFTBL pic.twitter.com/M2AlIcMaq8— NFL Research (@NFLResearch) March 4, 2018
Don’t misconstrue this comparison. It’s necessary to keep in mind the Clowney likeness is based on just these attributes more so than playing style. Clowney is primarily a run stopper; Davenport a pass rusher.
His 40-yard dash time was the fastest among all edge rushers and second among all defensive lineman participating at the Combine.
Edge rusher 40 yard dash times:— Jennifer Lee Chan (@jenniferleechan) March 4, 2018
UTSA Marcus Davenport 4.61
BC Harold Landry 4.65
NC State Bradley Chubb 4.66
All have met with the #49ers so y’all can start dreaming about it
His first 40 posted at 4.61”, and he actually improved it to 4.58” on his second take. The second run earned him a shoutout from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who happen to hold the seventh overall pick.
Marcus Davenport just posted a 4.59... He could be a top talent that's still on the board at 7, what do you guys think of him?— Tampa Bay Buccaneers (@TBBuccaneers) March 4, 2018
Watch #NFLCombine on @nflnetwork today and tomorrow! pic.twitter.com/pPsgEBT8a0
He also fared well in other quickness drills, proving his speed to work on an east-west plane and when exploding up.
Davenport lateral movement pic.twitter.com/pqpmXw8tEL— Billy Marshall (@BillyM_91) March 4, 2018
.@UTSAFTBL’s Marcus Davenport in agility drills at the NFL Combine pic.twitter.com/niVYU4BG8g— JJ Perez (@theJJPerez) March 4, 2018
Impressive strength while in motion, too. Note the simple praise; “That’s pretty good.” Enough said.
.@UTSAFTBL’s Marcus Davenport in pass rushing drills at the NFL Combine pic.twitter.com/vLuBppgjgf— JJ Perez (@theJJPerez) March 4, 2018
More of that strength:
Did you miss Marcus Davenport on the bench press yesterday? He finished up with 22 reps. #BuiltByUTSA pic.twitter.com/PyA8WexFlj— UTSA Football (@UTSAFTBL) March 4, 2018
As outstanding as Davenport did in his workouts and field drills, he also appeared quite polished through the other half of the weekend: interviews.
Known for intensive questioning of players, Combine interviews are often cited as a mentally grueling and testing process.
A well-spoken young man, Davenport’s reputation off the field is humble and nonchalant. He has a calm presence about him and conducts himself very peacefully; without the helmet on you would have no idea that he’s a menace to quarterbacks. His etiquette has translated well when speaking with media, and you can only assume it’s done the same in private interviews as well.
When it came to his press conference, Davenport was just downright charming.
. @UTSAFTBL edge rusher Marcus Davenport said the strangest question he was asked by a team was, “If you were a fruit, what kind of fruit would you be?” He replied, “An apple — because an apple a day keeps the doctor away.” pic.twitter.com/vp4MGpgGyM— Andrew Mason (@MaseDenver) March 3, 2018
But he was also deliberate as necessary.
UTSA DE Marcus Davenport said his best attribute is how violent he plays. pic.twitter.com/x6Q5QgMmZs— TURRON DAVENPORT (@TDavenport_NFL) March 3, 2018
And he got testy when a clumsy reporter pushed his buttons.
Asked if it's motivating to come from a small school like UTEP, Marcus Davenport quips: "What really motivates me is when people get the name wrong. I go to UTSA."#NFLCombine2018— Chase Goodbread (@ChaseGoodbread) March 3, 2018
Only the second Combine invitee in UTSA’s seven-year history, the San Antonio native represented his university properly.
David Morgan II, UTSA’s first Combine participant, didn’t garner the same media focus that Davenport generated coming into the Combine weekend. This large of a stage is new and unprecedented territory for the Roadrunners, and it’s the best dang advertising UTSA has ever had.
At this point, he’s checked off every single box. If you’re not in love with him as a player, I don’t want you scouting for my team.
The standout showing should all but cement Davenport as a top 15 pick, if not catapult him into the top ten. The only remaining issue is that constant pestering bug of facing C-USA competition. Though, after this weekend most teams in the market for an edge rusher will deem his risk versus reward value as highly worth it.
Davenport will be UTSA’s second-ever draft pick behind Morgan II, who was taken by the Minnesota Vikings in the sixth round of 2016. He, too, had an excellent Combine weekend. Difference for Davenport, however, are the stakes being much higher with first round expectations.
NFL writer Jeff Risdon put it best: “(Davenport) is either going to be a 2020 Pro Bowl edge rusher or get his coach/GM that takes him top 20 fired.” I’ll take the former for $500, Jeff.