2018 Senior Bowl: Marcus Davenport en route to making his mark

by Christian Page

Entering the coveted scouting week of the Senior Bowl, big names and big schools highlight the NFL-talented rosters in Mobile, Alabama. A skilled quarterback group with first round hopefuls Josh Allen and Baker Mayfield has many intrigued. But the sole focus may be elsewhere.

Marcus Davenport, defensive end from Texas-San Antonio (UTSA), put together a highlight-reel type season for the Roadrunners, good enough to place him on the Senior Bowl roster.

However, he isn’t just another name in Mobile. Davenport has drawn intrigue for his efforts on the field dominating Conference USA play and receiving plenty of first round buzz entering the week. After a proactive week of practice, being selected in the top 20 picks of the 2018 NFL Draft is not a fairy tale for him anymore. It’s expected.  

Creating a name for himself has not been an easy task, however, his talent may have something to say of that. Davenport enrolled at UTSA at a lean 198 pounds with plenty of room to fill out his 6-foot-5 frame.

“I had to work really hard on gaining weight,” Davenport said. “(I was) basically on a see food, eat food diet.”

The once two-star defensive end prospect stepped on the scale at the Tuesday morning Senior Bowl weigh-in event at 259 pounds. The weight progression rides on the same lines as the ascension of his game, as Davenport has climbed the ladder in many ways to get to star in front of multiple NFL personnel members this week.

As a freshman, Davenport saw the field in 11 games for the Roadrunners with five of his 14 tackles coming behind the line of scrimmage. Beginning to scratch the surface as a premier pass rusher in the Conference USA, Davenport notched 7.5 tackles for loss and four sacks in Year 2, earning all-conference honorable mention honors.

Starting 12 of 13 games, he led all UTSA defensive linemen with 68 total tackles including 10 for loss in 2016. He also led the squad with 6.5 sacks and a program-record eight quarterback hurries. To nearly mask his second team all-conference caliber year from his junior season, Davenport took his game to new heights in 2017 finishing the season as Conference USA defensive player of the year.

His 17 tackles for loss and 8.5 sacks both rank first in the single-season UTSA record books.

Davenport gives credit for inspiration to three current NFL players modeling his power after Calais Campbell (Jacksonville), his motor after JJ Watt (Houston) and his speed from Von Miller (Denver). Those three attributes have sparked interest from many scouts across the NFL with many finally getting to see the senior defensive end prospect on the field for the first time.

The rise of a player’s prospectus is not rare after a productive week at the Senior Bowl but it may not be as common for those that played outside of the Power 5 conferences.

Former NFL pass rusher DeMarcus Ware was a two-star high school wide receiver recruit that received only one offer during the recruiting process. At Troy, Ware put on nearly 50 pounds and thrived for the Trojans earning a spot on the 2005 Senior Bowl roster.

After a stellar Senior Bowl run, Ware played himself into the No. 11 overall selection by Dallas in the 2005 NFL Draft. The Troy pass rusher left a legacy in Mobile giving hope to young budding stars at the lower-levels of competition.

With a similar path to stardom, Davenport looks to capture the same fate as Ware by hearing his name called by Roger Goodell on Thursday, April 26 in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft.