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Brian Baldinger sees plenty to like in Marcus Davenport

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Maybe the first round pick isn’t as raw as we’ve been led to believe.

METAIRIE, LA - New Orleans Saints defensive line coach Ryan Nielsen (left) instructs defensive lineman Marcus Davenport (92) before going through a drill during rookie minicamp practice at the Ochsner Sports Performance Center.
METAIRIE, LA - New Orleans Saints defensive line coach Ryan Nielsen (left) instructs defensive lineman Marcus Davenport (92) before going through a drill during rookie minicamp practice at the Ochsner Sports Performance Center.
Michael C. Hebert/NewOrleansSaints.com

NFL Network analyst Brian Baldinger, also called Baldy, has quickly earned a spot among New Orleans Saints fans’ favorites. Baldy is known for his enthusiastic film studies, highlighting clips of players doing things really well - and praising them for it - as often as picking out things going horribly wrong and burying them for it. He’s done a lot to bridge the gap between fan-friendly content and the hyped-up coach speak you’ll hear on NFL sidelines.

While that trademarked style has gotten him love from all around the NFL, Baldy’s relationship with Saints fans may be his strongest. He was the conductor of Marshon Lattimore’s Defensive Rookie of the Year hype train, and has become a big fan of other Saints like Alvin Kamara, Terron Armstead, Larry Warford, and Cam Jordan. He even chimed in with support for the New Orleans Pelicans during their recent go-for-broke playoff series.

Lately, Baldy has turned his attentions towards the top 2018 NFL Draft prospects. One name he’s latched onto with intensity is Marcus Davenport. So far, it seems like Baldy has found plenty to like in Davenport and the trade the Saints made to go get him.

Baldy just might get it. He highlights the need for a real presence opposite Jordan on the defensive line in this clip, showing how the Minnesota Vikings double-teamed Jordan on penultimate plays in their Divisional Round playoff game without fearing a breakdown in protection elsewhere. All Davenport has to do as a rookie is beat the man in front of him:

Davenport was one of the names most-discussed at the Reese’s Senior Bowl earlier this spring, and while he struggled early in practice the UTSA grad turned on the heat in the game itself. Baldy appreciates that, and draws a connection between Davenport’s playmaking ability and an area of need on the Saints defense: while the Saints were third in the NFL in interceptions last year (20) they were second-to-last in fumbles recovered (5 of 20).

Lastly, anywhere you look you’ll see Davenport described as “raw”. I can’t listen to a draft recap podcast without analysts talk about him like he doesn’t know what football is, or the expectation that he’ll be a gameday inactive as a rookie. These guys are focusing too much on what Davenport hasn’t done yet rather than what he does well, like hold up in run defense and generate pressure out of wide alignments. Baldy smartly picks up on this:

It’s easy for Baldy to sell you on a prospect. So the wise thing would be to reserve your judgment, keep no expectations, and let things ride out. But I’ll be more than happy to drink the Kool-Aid on this one and celebrate every little thing Davenport does well.