New Orleans Saints defensive end Marcus Davenport has failed to play a compete in a full season since getting drafted in 2018. Most recently, Davenport played in only 11 games last season after suffering a pectoral/shoulder injury early last season.
When healthy, Davenport has shown flashes of brilliance. In a contract year, if Davenport can show he’s fully healthy, he could be in store for a big payday next offseason. Still, he’s not starting the year off right on the injury front.
#Saints DE Marcus Davenport revealed today that he had the top portion of his pinky finger amputated this offseason due to a recurring infection stemming from an injury in college. He also underwent shoulder surgery.— Ari Meirov (@MySportsUpdate) June 15, 2022
Davenport is entering the final year of his rookie contract.
If he could be healthy in 2022 - which is admittedly a big “if” - he could be in store for a monster year. With David Onyemata, Cam Jordan, and Payton Turner, opposing offensive lines won’t be able to double-team Davenport alone or risk putting one of the Saints’ other elite pass rushers in a favorable matchup. With this in mind, Bleacher Report named Davenport as one of 5 defensive players primed for a breakout season in 2022:
2021 stats: 39 tackles, 9 sacks, 3 forced fumbles in 11 games
A first round pick in 2018, the first three years of Marcus Davenport’s career featured glimpses of the dominant physical upside that he had flashed in college and at the NFL Scouting Combine. His long, 6’6”, 265-pound frame always allowed him to be a force in the run game, but his pass-rush prowess was lacking the polish needed to justify extending Davenport long-term on a big contract. Davenport tallied just 12 sacks in his first three seasons.
2021 brought much better results as Davenport flourished into his role as a primary pass-rusher. At 25 years old, Davenport’s hand usage notably improved as he engaged with blockers. His ability to create space and shed blockers became an asset and not just a byproduct of his immense strength and size.
The results were extremely encouraging in a limited sample. He racked up a career-high 39 tackles, nine sacks and three forced fumbles in 11 games. His ability to disrupt an offensive flow over the last portion of the season was undeniable.
Davenport earned a PFF grade of 88.8 in 417 snaps, largely thanks to his ability to beat blockers one-on-one. Just 29 percent of his pressures and sacks came unblocked, which landed him amongst the NFL’s premier names.
The biggest issue for Davenport is staying on the field. He missed four games to a shoulder injury after Week 1 and then missed two more games later in the season to another shoulder issue. He’s never played in more than 13 games.
If Davenport can stay on the field, he’s primed for stardom. It’s perfect timing financially as well, as Davenport is in the final year of his rookie contract.
Davenport playing well in 2022 is a bit of a Catch-22. If he plays incredibly well, he likely prices his way out of New Orleans next offseason a la Trey Hendrickson two offseasons ago. If he plays in a way to stay within the Saints’ budget next year, that likely means he was either injured, failed to live up to expectations, or both.