As the NFL Draft steady approaches, Niners Live takes a closer look at Texas-San Antonio’s edge rusher Marcus Davenport; is he worthy of the ninth overall pick (assuming the 49ers don’t trade down)?
Why are we here?
In 2017, the 49ers had 30 total sacks (pedestrian like production) as a defense. The 49ers haven’t had an elite level pass-rusher since former 49er and ex-Oakland Raider Aldon Smith (2012, 19.5 sacks), and Andre Carter (2002, 12.5 sacks). To say the 49ers have a major need for an elite level pass-rusher, is an understatement. But is Davenport that guy? No pass-rusher, “no rings.”
Important to note: there’s a ten-year gap between the two pass rushers who were originally drafted by the 49ers.
The 49ers are currently on a six-year drought for a double-digit sack leader. Elvis Dumervil, who was released by the 49ers recently, led the team last season with 6.5 sacks.
Looking at Davenport’s career production
Davenport stands at 6’6” and is 264 lbs. In his four-year career (43 total games played), he’s amassed 21.5 sacks (8.5 sacks in 2017), 185 total tackles, 37.5 for a loss, eight passes defended and six forced fumbles (returning one for a touchdown).
Taking a closer look at edge rusher Marcus Davenport
Davenport’s size and physical stature, along with his athleticism, jump right out at you when you evaluate this young and talented, promising prospect. His length (34” arms) are essential tools for helping to set the edge versus the run. Davenport plays with a violent aggressiveness as a hitter, that 49ers’ defensive coordinator Robert Saleh covets. On tape, you see flashes of his speed (4.58 40-yard dash at the combine) and power, as well as his lateral quickness (as seen in the video). His progress as a pass-rusher in-terms of production has been making strides each year.
However, what gives me pause for some concern is that according to Pro Football Focus, Davenport lined up almost exclusively against right tackles, and he only had 127 snaps from the right side (matched up against left tackles) all last season. Additionally, he only won 38 percent of reps in 1-on-1s at the Senior Bowl. The best pass rushers traditionally line up against left elite/athletic tackles, especially at the NFL level (frequently on Sunday’s). However, they have been known to move around the defensive front on passing downs, to cause mismatches.
There’s also the fact that he’s playing in Conference USA, where Davenport saw lesser level competition, and out of his 8.5 sacks, 5.5 came against the following teams: North Texas (2.5), UAB (1.0) and Rice (2.0). Out of the six games he’s had at least one sack in, his team lost half of them.
Davenport is a big, physical, athletic specimen of clay, that still needs to be molded into a defined sculpture of a pass-rusher. He’ll need to get with a strength and conditioning coach and pass rush specialist to work on his technique (bull rush is his go-to move), like 49ers’ assistant coach Chris Kiffin for example. I’m not excited about Davenport, as I think he’s at least two or three years away from being a solid pass-rusher at the NFL level.
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All records, statistics, and accolades are courtesy of Pro-Football-Reference.com, Pro Football Focus, 49ers.com, ESPN.com, NFL.com unless otherwise indicated. Author, Content Creator, player break down specialist, Co-Editor, Sequoia Sims