Scouting Spotlight: DE Marcus Davenport
Prospect Name: Marcus Davenport
- 2017 Conference USA Defensive Player of the Year
- 2017 1st Team All C-USA
- 2016 2nd Team All C-USA
- 2015 All C-USA Honorable Mention
*numbers are subject to change based on NFL combine results
Marcus Davenport is a long and athletic Defensive End out of the University of Texas – San
Antonio, that over the course of 2017 has begun to make a name for himself nationally due to his
athletic traits and his ability to rush the passer. He finished his career at UTSA with school
records in Tackles for Loss (38), Sacks (22) & QB hurries (21). His Pass Rush Productivity
(PRP) was 16.2 which ranked his 3 rd amongst all draft-eligible EDGE defenders to go along with
his 49 total pressures, which was tied for 5th. His Run Stop Percentage (8.6%) was top 30 in his
class, showing that he is more than just a pass rusher and that he can be a potential 3 down player
at the NFL level.
His play is not a mirage or a one year wonder as he has steadily improved throughout his time at
UTSA. His tackles, tackles for loss & sack totals increased every year at UTSA as did his PFF
grading, going from 62 nd to 15 th to top 5 in the EDGE class. In late December Albert Breer ofSI/MMQB reported that multiple NFL executives indicated to him that Davenport might not make it out of the first 15 picks of the 2018 NFL EDGE player taken after NC State Defensive End Bradley Chubb. Davenport will have a chance to prove himself amongst the best seniors in the class as he has accepted an invitation for
participate in the 2018 Reese’s Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama in just a few weeks.
At Texas A&M – 11/19/16
At Baylor – 9/9/17
At Texas State – 9/23/17
At North Texas – 10/14/17
Vs Marshall – 11/18/17
How Does He Win?
Quickness, power and violence. Its pretty easy to notice when evaluating Davenport is that he
“win” with his get off, there is nothing too complicated about his game plan against opposing
offensive linemen. He wants to overwhelm them with his quickness off the snap and the power
that he brings. In terms of power he is one of (if not) the strongest and most violent EDGE
players in this class.
This first gif is of his game game against North Texas, you’ll notice that the quickness that he
displays off the snap and how the running back did not expect Davenport to fly past him on his
way to the QB.
This next gif, which was against Texas A&M in 2016 is what I meant when I describe
Davenport’s game plan, it was obvious that the OT show little resistance against him which
allowed him to exert his will and easily bring down the QB for the sack.
This from the first game of the 2017 season against Baylor, Davenport really uses his strength
and arm length effectively as he able to control the Right Guard and at the correct moment sheds
him to bring down the QB who had been effected by the DB blitz and forced to step up. It was a
good use of his teammate’s impact on the play
His strength is also an asset in the run game as he is able to hold off the blocks of TEs and OTs
to make a play on RBs as seen here during the North Texas game.
This is against Texas State in 2017, as you can see Davenport’s strength is a real positive as he
stands up the pulling guard, disengages from the block with his length and blows up the QB run
Where Does He Need to Improve?
Its hard to gauge whether it is an issue of lack of top tier competition (he only faced two ranked
opponents in his four years at UTSA) or that he is just raw in terms of his development but there
really is a lack of variety to his game. There are far too many instances where Davenport just
wants to bully his way to the QB and when he is unsuccessful he fails to show a counter move.
That is not to say that he does not have the ability to show the capacity to have a more developed
This is from the North Texas game that I reviewed, as you can see Davenport shows the ability
to use the Rip technique on the Right Tackle and turn his hips with losing momentum, this
allows him to never to lose speed as he brings down the QB for the sack.
The Rip technique is a common pass rush move where the player is taught to “rush half a man”,
which means that you want to rush up the field with the goal of having your inside shoulder dip
underneath the blocker’s outside shoulder. The key when using the rip technique is gaining
leverage with your get off and dipping your shoulder under his armpit, from there you want to be
hip to hip with the blocker. If you have successfully gained leverage and have assumed control
of the blocker with your shoulder your path to the QB is within sight. A well trained offensive
line will attempt to slow you down by placing his free hand on your hip, a well timed flip of your
inside hip and bat down of his arms should free you up to get to the QB.
But far too often he depends solely on his physical talents to make a play, at the NFL level that
will only get him so far meaning that he will have to become a more intelligent and savvier pass
rusher. The defensive line and outside linebackers coaches I have spoken with have preached
that the most effective and most consistent pass rushers are the ones who always have a game
plan, always have a counter and always know the tendencies of their opponents. That level of
mental development will serve Davenport well at the next level.
There are also instances where he has shown a tendency to be overaggressive, as seen here in his
game against Texas State
While its tough to decipher what his first responsibility was on the play had he been just a little
more patient he could he would have been able to control the QB-RB exchange and slowed down
the play long enough for his teammates to clean it up. His aggressiveness allowed the QB to
ability to use his RB as a decoy and run through the massive lane his OL had created for him.
Lateral movement is also issue for Davenport which is why I believe he is natural attacking 4-3
DE. The best use of his skillset and physical talent is to have him with his hand on the ground,
rushing the QB. Moving him laterally or dropping him into coverage, which the Road Runners
defensive staff had him doing was a huge mistake in my opinion and made him ineffective far
too often. As seen here in his game against Texas A&M
Here is an example of Davenport over pursuing a play and not having the lateral movement skills
to recover. Davenport crashes on the zone read pretty quickly which allowed the QB the
necessary time to pull back the football and fly past Davenport who did not have the ability to
recover in time.
His lower half at times does not always work in concert in with his upper body; his strength and
power are his best assets as a pass rusher but he is still developing the ability to line up the
movement of his lower half with his power he brings.
What is also of concern is that he is a bit miscast in his role on the Road Runners defense, he is a
natural 4-3 Defensive End but given that the team runs primarily a 3-4 alignment he is rushing
from an OLB position and while he is incredibly quick off the snap his role can at times slow
him down and cause him not to have enough time to set up his game plan. A smart organization
will understand that and put him in a better positon to succeed and as he enters an NFL level
strength and conditioning program he will get stronger, leaner and faster
Davenport is a really fascinating prospect with a ton of upside and natural talent, it is obvious
that he has the size, speed and natural pass rushing skills to be really good at the NFL level. He
plays with a power and violence that few pass rushers come into the league with, in my opinion
it is a sign of the confidence he plays which will serve him well. The key like with all incoming
prospects will be the team that he lands with. It is clear in my eyes that for him to successful at
the next level it will have to be with a 4-3 team that has a patient coaching staff that knows that it
will take time to unlock all of his tremendous potential and that early on it would be for the best
if he used as a situational player as he develops the rest of his game. Draft season will be huge
for him as he’ll have the opportunity to showcase himself at the Senior Bowl, Scouting Combine
and during the Pro Day/Prospect Visit circuit. That could turn him into a well sought after
Where Would I Take Him?
Now this is always a fascinating question to tackle (I apologize for the pun), the question of
where a prospect should go and where they will go is almost largely dependent on the position
that the prospect plays. EDGE is very much like the QB position, it will always be overvalued
and over drafted due to the importance that the league has placed on the position. Davenport’s
skillset and measurables are in my opinion worthy of a 1st round grade but he is a raw prospect
and he will take time to develop. Although much much has been said about the level of play
from offensive lines in the NFL the talent, strength and intelligence gap between the NFL and
Conference USA is a chasm and it will take Davenport time to adjust which makes him a risky
proposition as a 1st round player. If he goes in the 1st the expectation level on him will be high
and he may be asked to produce sooner than he is ready to do so on a consistent level. His
strength is getting to the QB and as the saying goes, “You can never have enough pass rushers”
which is why he will ultimately fly up draft boards as coaching get involved and as front offices
are able to do more in depth work on him. If I had to put a grade on him I would say that he is a
late 1st round/early 2nd round type prospect but due to the need and his potential I could very well
see him go somewhere in the first 15 picks of the 1st round.
Special thanks to the following for the cut ups that made this scouting report possible:
- Cut Up Corner
- Chris Kouffman
- Manraj Dhesi
- Voch Lombardi