Each day leading up to the 2018 NFL draft, I’ll break down one of my top 50 prospects. In some cases, we had to make tough omissions because of injuries, poor pre-draft workouts or incomplete information. For more complete scouting reports on all the prospects, check out the Pro Football Weekly 2018 Draft Guide, which is available for order now.
14. UTSA DE Marcus Davenport
6-foot-5, 265 pounds
Key stats: Davenport had eight career games with two or more tackles for loss — and five of them came in the 2017 season.
The skinny: Overlooked recruit was a three-sport athlete (also basketball and track & field) as a prep, but there was a question what position he’d play after barely reaching the 200-pound mark. Davenport stayed local at UTSA and played as a true freshman while trying to gain weight. He appeared in 11 games (missing the finale with injury), racking up 14 tackles and three sacks.
In 2015, Davenport earned honorable mention all-Conference-USA, starting all 11 games he played (missing the Colorado State game with injury). He recorded 49 tackles (7.5 for loss), four sacks, three pass breakups and two forced fumbles. As a junior in 2016, Davenport was named second-team all-conference with 68 tackles (10 for loss), 6.5 sacks and eight QB hurries in 13 games (12 starts).
Named 2017 Conference-USA Defensive Player of the Year and first-team all-conference in collecting 55 tackles (17.5 for loss), 8.5 sacks, eight hurries, four pass breakups, three forced fumbles and a fumble return for a touchdown. Davenport played in the Senior Bowl, and in the game he sacked Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield on the first series and added a 19-yard fumble return for a touchdown in the third quarter. He completed all the testing drills at the NFL scouting combine and did positional work with defensive linemen and linebackers.
Upside: Great height, wingspan and frame that’s just now starting to approach maxing out — added 20 pounds between sophomore and senior seasons and is still growing into his new frame. Outstanding 40-yard dash time (4.58 seconds) that beat some wide receivers at the combine. Also turned in terrific broad jump (124 inches) for a 265-pound man-child.
Testing numbers were very much on par with NC State’s Bradley Chubb, roundly considered EDGE1 in this class. Highly athletic with traits that project well for pass-rush success. Pass-rush skills still raw but with immense potential. Could really benefit from more good coaching and experience.
Violent hands and nice arm extension — initial punch is impressive. Learning to use leverage better and is a mismatch for tight ends and shorter running backs in pass pro. Strong bull rush and has the potential to develop great counters off of this. Watch here against Texas State last season as Davenport keeps the offensive guard at bay, works down the line and helps finish off the play in the backfield:
Nice, reliable tackler — only one charted miss by UTSA staff last season. Works down the line well to make plays. Seeks to deliver a pop but does so with nice control while driving through ballcarriers. Makes a lot of plays at or behind the line — 30.5 TFLs in final 27 college games. Active hands — three forced fumbles last season and six in three years starting.
Good in pursuit and will make a lot of plays from behind. Keeps head up on plays — stays home nicely and doesn’t overpursue too much. First popped on NFL scouts’ radars after a breakout performance vs. Texas A&M in 2016 (sack, fumble recovery, career-high 11 tackles). Watch here in that game how Davenport gets caught in the trash but clears from it, spots the ball and comes down hard to take down Aggies QB Jake Hubenak for a nice, instinctive play:
Rushed from both sides of the line (although more from the left than right) and proved to be adept at both. Also rushed from two- and three-point stances and played multiple techniques. Flashed some fascinating potential as a stand-up A-gap blitzer (see North Texas game) who can harass quarterbacks with his quickness, pursuit and arm length.
Downside: Remarkably small hands (9 ¼ inches) that place him in the bottom 10th percentile for edge rushers among combine measurements. Even with exceptional 40 time, his 10- and 20-yard splits were good but by no means as impressive — geared up to top speed. Size suggests he could be an interior third-down rusher, but his productivity when battling inside has been mixed at best. Wasn’t asked to drop a lot into coverage.
Really struggled in one-on-one pass-rush drills the first two days pf practice at the Senior Bowl before coming on. Looked to be pacing himself and getting a feel for his opponents with not enough urgency prior to cranking it up the final day of practice. Small bag of pass-rush tricks — can be stymied if first move is stoned. Must develop a better pass-rush plan and learn to set up blockers better.
Watch here as Davenport crashes hard inside against Baylor but gets turned sideways too easily. He showed good effort on the play and sticks with it, but he got out of position after his initial move was short-circuited and the quarterback scrambles by him for a first down on a 3rd-and-10:
Will get caught guessing wrong on option plays and play-action passes — sometimes has trouble locating the ball. Has big eyes and sometimes will play out of control when he can smell a sack or a TFL. Gets too small at times, plays too high (poor pad level) at others. Needs to better maximize his rare gifts, improve his play strength and work at neutralizing double teams better.
Best-suited destination: Ideally, Davenport could be paired with a strong DL coach who can teach him better technique and with a team where he can be worked in with a pitch count as a pass rusher. By Year 2 or 3, with the right strides, Davenport could be truly special. Among the teams that make the most sense for Davenport include the San Francisco 49ers, Chicago Bears, Green Bay Packers, Miami Dolphins, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Cincinnati Bengals, Carolina Panthers, Baltimore Ravens, Detroit Lions, Buffalo Bills, Seattle Seahawks, Dallas Cowboys, Indianapolis Colts, Atlanta Falcons, Philadelphia Eagles, Cleveland Browns and Washington.
Quotable: “A lot of special in him. Didn’t know there would be this much.” — Davenport’s high school defensive coordinator, Darryl Hemphill, to PFW’s Arthur Arkush
Player comp: Ziggy Ansah
Expected draft range: Top 20
50. Oregon RB Royce Freeman
49. South Dakota State TE Dallas Goedert
48. LSU DE-LB Arden Key
47. Ohio State C Billy Price
46. Alabama S Ronnie Harrison
45. Oklahoma State QB Mason Rudolph
44. Texas A&M S Armani Watts
43. South Carolina TE Hayden Hurst
42. UCF CB Mike Hughes
41. USC RB Ronald Jones II
40. Maryland WR D.J. Moore
39. UTEP OG Will Hernandez
38. Stanford DT Harrison Phillips
37. Ohio State DE Sam Hubbard
36. Stanford S Justin Reid
35. Oregon OT Tyrell Crosby
34. SMU WR Courtland Sutton
33. Penn State TE Mike Gesicki
32. Colorado CB Isaiah Oliver
31. Georgia OL Isaiah Wynn
30. Texas A and M WR Christian Kirk
29. Alabama LB Rashaan Evans
28. Alabama WR Calvin Ridley
27. Michigan DT Maurice Hurst
26. Texas OT Connor Williams
25. Georgia RB Sony Michel
24. LSU RB Derrius Guice
23. Boise State LB Leighton Vander Esch
22. Florida DT Taven Bryan
21. Wyoming QB Josh Allen
20. Notre Dame OT Mike McGlinchey
19. Iowa C-OG James Daniels
18. Alabama DL Da’Ron Payne
17. Louisville QB Lamar Jackson
16. Iowa CB Joshua Jackson
15. Louisville CB Jaire Alexander