There was plenty of hand-wringing over the summer about New Orleans Saints first-round draft pick Marcus Davenport. Was he too raw to help right away? How long was he going to sit out with a groin muscle injury? Did the Saints even draft the best talent at the position?
If Pro Football Focus is to be believed, Davenport has done plenty to calm those fears.
PFF’s snap-by-snap grading puts Davenport at No. 2 overall among rookie edge rushers leaguewide. That’s ahead of guys drafted before him, like Denver Broncos young stud Bradley Chubb, and better than Tennessee Titans second-round draft choice Harold Landry, who many draft enthusiasts preferred to Davenport.
The only rookie who has graded better in PFF’s system? Cleveland Browns fifth-rounder Genard Avery, a 6-foot-1, 250-pound linebacker. Not exactly comparable to the 6-foot-7, 270-pound Davenport, though they both focus on getting after the passer.
Most of Davenport’s high marks come from strong play in run defense. He’s recorded several run stops on a limited pitch count (playing just 23 snaps in each game so far) while coming along as a pass rusher. Davenport’s sky-high potential is on clear display in his backside pursuit and movement skills. He just needs more experience to gain confidence playing out of a three-point stance on passing downs. Once that clicks, he’ll be seriously tough to stop.
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