The Saints caught a lot of blowback in the media about their pick of Marcus Davenport in the 2018 NFL Draft, but the potential is starting to show.When they Saints traded next year’s first round pick to move up to pick 14 in the 2018 NFL Draft to take Marcus Davenport, the move was lambasted by the national media. There were even a lot of Saints fans and members of the local press who were not crazy about the gamble.With some nagging injury issues in training camp and early in preseason, the concerns about Davenport being a bust were ramping up heavily in the Big Easy.
But now that he’s healthy, Davenport is starting to show glimpses of what made the Saints roll the dice the way they did.Against the Buccaneers in Week 1’s horrendous showing by the Saints defense, it’s hard to point to any positives. But there was one play that Saints fans should look back on to see what Davenport brings to the table.The play we’re talking about saw Davenport lined up on the left side of the offensive line and the Bucs lined up in a one-back set with former Auburn running back Peyton Barber. I can’t show the video here due to licensing issues but you can go to the link here.Barber takes the hand off and goes to the right on the play with some daylight ahead of him and Demario Davis to beat.
Davenport broke from his position and ran down Barber from behind to start a tackle finished up by Davis. It’s worth remembering that the 6-foot-6, 265-pound Davenport ran a 4.5 40 yard dash at his pro day in San Antonio. Running back speed in a package that size is beyond rare. It’s freakish. Those numbers are the reason the Saints made the move they did on draft day. Now it’s just a matter of refining the skillset. Adding through practice and game play to a repertoire of moves and techniques to more effectively get after an opposing team’s quarterback. The football instincts are already there. The raw speed, size and power are obviously already there.
Davenport was active on 35-percent of the defensive snaps the Saints took in Week 1. The majority of the rest were from Alex Okafor. Obviously, since the Saints didn’t record a sack against the Bucs, there’s room for improvement. But Ryan Fitzpatrick didn’t need a lot of time in the pocket to do what he did last Sunday. He was hitting receivers on first reads due to the poor play from the Saints secondary. Receivers were coming open in their routes well before any Saints pass rush had time to develop. Davenport’s snap count should increase week to week as the 2018 Season progresses and we’ll get a chance to watch him grow into his role. That’s an exciting prospect. For all the fans who’ve been concerned about the pick? Patience is the word.
I’ll go ahead and go out on a limb and predict he’ll get his first NFL sack this Sunday on Browns quarterback Tyrod Taylor. Next: Five changes, tweaks Saints need to make in Week 2 That, my dear Who Dats, will be the first of many for Davenport.
The Saints have never had a player with the physical gifts this kid has. It’s now a matter of him refining them and the Saints coaches using them properly. From there, who knows how far Marcus Davenport can go.
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