The 2018 NFL Draft Prospect series breaks down draft-eligible players, highlighting their college production as well as their NFL potential. Daily fantasy players should know about NFL rookies before they’ve played a down of professional football because they are among the most misvalued assets in all of DFS. People who know NFL rookies have a significant DFS edge. The draft will be held at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, TX, from April 26-28.

This piece is on Texas-San Antonio defensive end Marcus Davenport.

Senior | 6’7″ and 255 Pounds | Born September 4, 1996 (Age: 21) | Projection: Rounds 1-2

Combine numbers: 40-yard: 4.58 sec | bench reps: 22 | 3-cone: 7.2 sec | 20-yard shuttle: 4.41 sec | vertical: 33.5 in | broad: 124 in

Typically, 6’7″ and 255-pound freak athletes don’t come out of nowhere. Then again, Davenport, a former two-star recruit and high school track star, isn’t your everyday defensive end. He added 30 pounds to his frame during his final three years at UTSA while also improving on the stat sheet along the way. The Roadrunners’ all-time leader in tackles for a loss, sacks, and quarterback hurries earned Conference USA Defensive Player of the Year honors as a senior. Davenport’s physical traits you simply can’t teach and high level of production have placed him in the first round of more than a few mock drafts across the industry.

Davenport racked up 38 tackles for a loss and 22 sacks during his career, including 17.5 tackles for a loss and 8.5 sacks during his senior campaign. Pro Football Focus’ No. 4 overall edge defender, Davenport regularly worked as a standup rusher off the edge, so he’ll have to adjust to life in a three-point stance if he winds up working as a 4-3 defensive end at the next level. Davenport certainly proved capable of handling this task as a junior, recording a pressure on 41.7 percent of his snaps in a three-point stance — the highest percentage of all draft-eligible edge defenders in the Football Bowl Subdivision (PFF). He helped ease competition-level critiques with a sack, four pressures, and a fumble recovery for a touchdown in the Senior Bowl.

Even with a strong Senior Bowl performance, Davenport is more of a project than finished product at this point. His pass-rushing repertoire will need to be refined at the next level, where he won’t be able to win as consistently with sheer size and athleticism. Still, Davenport routinely took over games by both getting after the quarterback and eliminating all runs to his side of the field.

Like many young pass rushers, Davenport isn’t always the stoutest run defender and can struggle against double teams. Unlike many young pass rushers, he’s shown the ability to dominate on a down-by-down basis and has the requisite size to do the same at the next level. The likes of Bradley Chubb and Arden Key may be more polished pure defensive ends, but Davenport’s upside is just as high as theirs. Whether he’s able to develop from a big-bodied beast into a technically-sound monster remains to be seen.

Davenport is young for a senior, but it’s his status as a potential first-round pick from a non-Power 5 conference that makes him special. He certainly looks the part, and his career production has matched that of the four defensive ends to meet the aforementioned criteria over the past 15 years.

  • Ezekiel Ansah: 6’5″ and 271 pounds, 4.5 sacks, 13 TFLs
  • Bryan Thomas: 6’4″ and 266 pounds, 36 sacks, 56 TFLs
  • Jerry Hughes: 6’2″ and 255 pounds, 28.5 sacks, 40.5 TFLs
  • Shea McClellin: 6’3″ and 260 pounds, 20.5 sacks, 33 TFLs
  • Davenport: 6’7″ and 255 pounds, 21.5 sacks, 37.5 TFLs

The Alabamas and Ohio States of the college football world don’t typically miss out on the nation’s most talented defensive ends. As the comp group suggests, no-name ends have typically needed elite collegiate production or game-changing physical intangibles to earn a Day 1 selection. Davenport is a rare breed and deserves to be mentioned among the draft’s highest-upside defenders. His impact as a rookie might not consist of much more than work in pass-first situations, but there will assuredly be a coaching staff convinced that it has what it takes to turn him into the league’s next three-down monster off the edge.

In our most recent mock draft, we have Davenport going to the Bills at No. 22.

Photo Credit: Glenn Andrews – USA TODAY Sports