Jun 12, 2018; Metairie, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints defensive end Marcus Davenport (92) participates in drills during minicamp at the Ochsner Sports Performance Center.

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Marcus Davenport set to play, needs to start proving he was worth Saints' investment

”The Last Lap with Seth Dunlap”
August 24, 2018 - 7:54 pm

When the Saints traded away next year's first round pick, plus a fifth round pick this year, to move up from pick No. 27 to No. 14 in the NFL Draft to select defensive end Marcus Davenport they made a statement -- he could be the missing piece in the pass rushing puzzle that could vault the franchise to their second Super Bowl title.

That was a massive move up for a relatively raw pass rusher who the team felt will develop into an elite edge rusher in the NFL.  It's an incredibly high risk, high reward move, one that's defined the team's draft strategy many years in the Sean Payton era.   With Drew Brees trotting ever closer towards that eventual sunset, there aren't many more draft mulligans the Saints can use if they expect to win another championship with #9 under center.

With the caveat that it's early, very early, Davenport hasn't given us too much to be truly excited about yet. 

If he plays tomorrow, and every indication is that he will, it will be the first time we see him in live game action in the NFL.  He failed to stand out at rookie mini-camp or OTAs, and hasn't shown the consistent flashiness at training camp you might expect from the second edge rusher selected in this year's draft.  

Again, and I can't emphasize this enough, it's far too early to make any final judgments on just how good, or not good, Davenport might be at the professional level.  It's also true that expectations on rookies are almost always too high, especially first round picks.  Davenport's first season won't be a bust if he only compiles a handful of sacks and is used mainly as a situational pass rusher.  Actually, that's what I believe reasonable people should expect.  The Saints are playing the long-game with Davenport, and his distant future is likely brighter than his immediate one.

Yet, the crawfishing I'm seeing from some is a bit cringe worthy.  If you railed, very loudly, last April that the Saints were absolutely right to give up a king's ransom to move up and select him because their championship window is now or he was the missing piece to their championship puzzle, then it's disingenuous, at best, to say a few months later that his lack of immediate impact doesn't matter.

I realize we are a small market and there's a tendency, with the close relationships many have or have developed with the Saints organization, that there's a hesitance to criticize organizational decisions.  Yet, it's my job to tell it like it is.

He doesn't need to be Lawrence Taylor, but he also should be more than Mitchell Loewen or Trey Hendrickson.  If the Saints are going to navigate through an incredibly tough NFC, then beat a duo like Tom & Bill in the championship game, Davenport must be more than an afterthought contributor for the Saints on the field this season.

This isn't a hit piece on Davenport.  He's a rookie who is learning on the job, and certainly has shown the raw athleticism that makes you think he could be darn good for a very long time in Black & Gold.  I've said numerous times, in this piece and before, that we need to be realistic about our expectations for him on this field this season.  But there also should be just that -- actual expectations.  

Consider this a warning on the label plastered on the side of the 2018 season.  Marcus Davenport was drafted to produce now.  Saints fans were sold that mortgaging the future was in the best interests of winning a title now before their future Hall of Fame quarterback calls it quits.  If that was the pitch, then fans deserve to see results.  You don't get to have your Davenport Cake and eat it too. 

The Marcus Davenport Show begins tomorrow.   Let's see what the young man has in store for us.



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