When you think of the Green Bay Packers draft needs, pass rusher has to be at the top of the list. While the temptation may be to look exclusively at the players you saw on big matchups on national television, or in the College Football Playoffs, one of the most intriguing edge players in the draft is from the University of Texas – San Antonio.
Marcus Davenport is a 6’7” 255 pound Defensive End/Outside Linebacker who is an absolute freak physical specimen. There were thoughts in early Fall that he might be a sleeper pick the draft. However, people around the league have woken up to Davenport, and he should be firmly planted in the first round. In fact, if there’s one concern I have from the Packers perspective, it is that he may climb even higher than 14 after what should be a very impressive showing at the Combine.
When watching tape of UTSA, you will immediately recognize which player he is. 93 jumps off the film creating impact plays in both the running and passing game. He’ll blow by a tackle on one play, and then straight bull rush him on the next. In case people think he was a flash-in-the-pan, he was one of the highest rated college OLBs according to Pro Football Focus in 2016, and this year he was one of the top DEs.
If there is a knock on Davenport it is the lack of development of multiple pass rush moves. He is a Wide Receiver convert, so you would expect a learning curve at the pro level. However, I see all the tools that Ezekiel Ansah possessed coming out of college, and can see a similar career ark for Davenport. He’ll have to rely on his physical tools early, but once he figures out the technique portion of the game, he’s going to be unstoppable. And those around him rave about his character and work ethic, which makes him a great fit as a football player and in the Green Bay community.
Green Bay has often relied on drafting players with high football IQs and technique. I think it is time to be more aggressive in acquiring elite athletic talent. I think it’s possible Marcus Davenport is a great combination of both. Putting him in a situation where he can learn from Clay Matthews, Nick Perry, Mike Daniels, and Kenny Clark could help the Packers to generate the kind of pass rush it will take to fix their defense. And giving Mike Pettine a weapon to terrorize opposing QBs on 3rd down would be a terrific investment of the 14th pick.Andrew Mertig is a a lifelong Packers fan and draft enthusiast. He has covered the NFL draft for radio and television stations in Green Bay. He is currently a host of the Pack-A-Day podcast and a writer for PackersTalk.com. You can follow him on Twitter @andrewmertig