Marcus Davenport is the best defensive player that nobody is talking about

Saints DE Marcus Davenport may be from another planet

By: Jake Rajala

When Saints defensive end Marcus Davenport takes the field, you will surely witness the closest thing to an offensive tackle being pushed back into in a quarterback’s lap every play. In 2021, the 25-year-old DE for the Saints has truly learned to utilize his 6’6 frame and 4.58 40 time in 2021. Nonetheless, the injury bug has continued to hurt the edge player’s appearances, as he’s only played “eight of the 14 games” this season. 

Davenport and Jadeveon Clowney struggle to contain their giant-like frame mixed with a near Olympic runner explosion, as they’ve routinely been injured in their playing careers. 

Even if Davenport has been MIA in six contests this season, the player has been productive and the utmost efficient when healthy and on the field. On October 26th, it was well painted how Davenport was the “most effective edge player” by PFF. As it stands now, Davenport is the third-ranked edge defender per PFF. The DE has not been a reliable source of health Still, it’s been a roller coaster ride strapped with dynamite for the fourth-year pass rusher. 

Here is a deeper look at Davenport’s key stats on the season:

  • 6.5 sacks in eight games (translates to 13.8 sacks in 17 games) 
  • Nine tackles for loss (equals 19 TFLs in 17 games)

The Saints DE is like a bolt of lightning when he comes off the line of scrimmage. Saints defensive coordinator has proudly called Davenport the best defensive player. It’s not a slouch comment by Allen, especially when the Saints defense fields Marshon Lattimore, Demario Davis, and Cameron Jordan (NFC defensive player of the week in Week 15). His playmaking ability has been blatantly obvious in the run and pass game. As portrayed above, the Saints DE would be in the conversation as one of the top defensive players in the league if he could stay on the field just a bit more. 

Saints GM Mickey Loomis made a bold decision to trade two first-round draft picks to acquire the UTSA prospect Marcus Davenport in 2018. Leading up to 2021, Davenport was widely considered a bust for missing a few plus games a season and only having 12.5 career sacks to show for it. Yet, it appears in this day in age the Saints DE could complete a career season of production, potentially help the team in the playoffs, and show Who Dat nation he’s transforming into the player he was expected to be on draft day.

Saints defense is really an elite unit

Marshon Lattimore leads a scary Saints defense

By: Jake Rajala

Every individual that has heard of the sport called American Football predicted the Green Bay Packers to win their Week 1 matchup against the “rebuilding” New Orleans Saints. Many analysts even suggested that Packers would win and it wouldn’t even be a close matchup.  Well, what exactly happened? 

The Saints, who were without Michael Thomas, Bradley Roby, and Will Lutz, went into the matchup and absolutely mopped the floor against the loaded NFC favorite in the Green Bay Packers. The Saints wounded up unveiling 38 points and allowing a mere three points against the 2020 MVP Aaron Rodgers

So, does that mean that the Saints team was very underlooked heading into the matchup and it’s time to give them a boatload of credit? The answer to that is apparently not. Instead of handing the Saints its true due, countless national sports outlets just state the Saints “played well” or the “Saints were the more prepared team”. They will go on to state the narrative that Rodgers was sluggish and just happened to have the “worst game of his career” because he didn’t show up until training camp. At the same time, many of these analysts believe/admit A-Rod will quickly turn things around in Week 2. 

I don’t see the national crystal ball reasoning behind Rodgers’s absence as a major factor in his horrid performance. It’s fun and easy to poke at Rodgers’s new mantra and the fact that he was reluctant to be a Packer for much of the offseason. However, it wasn’t like Rodgers took a plane from Hawaii to Jacksonville in early September. The former MVP has been in sync with the Packers for many weeks already. Also, this new idea of “not showing up until training camp” correlated with a disastrous Week 1 performance didn’t become a thought until Aaron Rodgers came along. I believe many people are taking the combination of taking the opportunity to jab at the polarizing QB and not admitting they were wrong about the Saints. It also could be said that the Saints couldn’t have played any better against Aaron Rodgers to garner the large praise they deserve, simply because they couldn’t have played any better.

I actually believe that Rodgers isn’t a large portion of the blame and that the Saints defense will go down as the top unit that Rodgers will have faced this season (barring a second matchup). Here is why the Saints defense deserves a significant approval rating and why the unpopular Rodgers truly faced a wall in Week 1. 

  • Marcus Williams and Marshon Lattimore

Remember the Saints historically great draft class in 2017? Well, profiles like Marshon Lattimore, Alvin Kamara, Marcus Williams, and Trey Hendrickson were all taken by the great organization. Well, I believe some of these players that actually found great success early on in their careers, are just evolving into their prime selves in year five. Most notably, the Saints CB Marshon Lattimore and Saints FS Marcus Williams seemed to have transformed into more talented studs. 

Marcus Williams had one of the best plays of his career in Week 1 against Aaron Rodgers. The Packers future Hall of Fame QB actually got Williams to play towards Adams’s side of the field on a deep passing route, which led to Rodgers quickly turning and unleashing a bomb to Marquez Valdes – Scantling. Williams managed to allow Rodgers to believe he had him falling for a pass intended to Adams, but managed to see Scantling go deep down the field and trace back to make a great play on the field. In live-action, it seems like Rodgers just threw a prayer, but it was a route combination that GB practiced and Williams truly made an outstanding play on the football field. This is the same Willams that Payton has called a very smart football player and safety that showed his athletic ability at the NFL combine (top vertical jump, third in broad jump). 

We know Williams had a great Week 1 showcase, but Marshon Lattimore was also very stout in a day that would also turn to be a huge payday. On a 4th downplay, Lattimore beautifully broke up a pass against one of the top WRs in Davante Adams. Lattimore routinely shut down Adams and when he missed a drive, his value to the defense showed, as GB marched up and down the field. Thankfully, Lattimore returned and his value resurfaced in the game. Saints will also have the prominent CB Bradley Roby in the fold moving forward.

  • Saints LB tandem 

The Saints found one of the all-time FA (free agent) gems in Demario Davis a few years back and he continues to make the case as one of the game’s best LBs. Davis has been ranked as the top LB by PFF in the past and he’s arguably the best LB against the run in the league. He’s a huge reason why the Saints can play two safeties on the back end against elite passing offenses and hold up against the run. He now also introduces the pre-game speeches with Brees out of the locker room. 

We know Davis is a Top 100 football player in the NFL, but re-signing Kwon Alexander to pair with him was a very underrated move. If the Saints didn’t acquire one of the fastest LBs in the league, there may have been a few more first downs picked up last week by the Packers offense. Then who knows what the Packers could have done with a stronger rhythm. Alexander was able to chase down not only Jones from a few yards away and hold him from picking up a first, but he was making great plays on WRs in the open space. When Alexander is healthy, the Saints have one of the best 1-2 punches at the LB position. 

  • DL Depth

The Saints didn’t have David Onymeta and no longer have Sheldon Rankins (despite Rankins usually being MIA), but the DL had a strong performance against Rodgers. Sure, the Packers were missing interior OL and didn’t really attack the Saints DTs. Yet, when the Saints DL was tested at various spots and on occasion, the Saints held up in defensive trenches. As mentioned, the Saints are reaping the benefits of already solid young players taking that next step. It was easy to witness 2018 first-round draft pick Saints DE Marcus Davenport growing into full form, as he had a sack and TFL against GB. Davenport will miss a few weeks with an injury, but he will be back for the majority of the season, and for the crucial game matchups against Tom Brady. 

Outside of Davenport taking the next step, the Saints have numerous playmakers on the DL. The veteran Cam Jordan showed he still has a lot of gas left in the tank as he essentially quickly pressured and forced Aaron Rodgers into throwing his first INT of the game. The Saints also reaped benefits from first-year Saint Tanoh Kpassagnon, who managed to get home on a pass rush when the Saints just sent three down linemen at the QB. Then there is even one other pass rusher that is left to attack QBs: Saints 2021 first-round draft pick Payton Turner. The Saints will undoubtedly have the best edge-rushing rotation when Turner sees the field moving forward and when Davenport returns from his minor injury for the large chunk of the season. The Saints ferocious pass rush will truly continue to prove to complement the back end quite well in all of 2021.

Why the Saints could have the best edge rushing rotation in the NFL

New Orleans Saints training camp preview

By: Jeremy Trottier

The New Orleans Saints have had a relatively interesting offseason, between clearing cap space by cutting players, to extending Ryan Ramczyk, to their draft prospects.  With that said, one of the positions on the defense that is most solidified right now is defensive end, between Cam Jordan, Marcus Davenport, and Payton Turner as the top rotation.  In this article, I will be going over each of these three players, as we could see a duo of any mix of them, as well as what they contribute to this unit as a whole.

Cam Jordan

The veteran of the group, Cam Jordan, is going into his 11th season of his career, and has not had a season of under 7.5 sacks since his rookie year.  Despite having a relatively quiet year last season on the stat sheet, his productivity as a player cannot be understated, as he caused a lot of QB pressures, hurries, and hits.  He had 16 QB hits, 26 pressures, and 8 QB knockdowns.  He also took some of the pressure off Trey Hendrickson, as he would often take on two offensive linemen at once which freed up the rest of the line to provide pressure.

Cam Jordan will be vital in teaching the other two edge rushers we are looking at in the article today, as he has a huge deal of experience in the league.  He also says he is feeling, “more rejuvenated than ever” ahead of the 2021-2022 season, which is a huge deal as his mentality is another thing he brings to the roster.  He is the “hype man” of the front four for New Orleans and having him believing in himself that he is the best he has ever been is great news. 

Payton Turner

The Saints 2021 first round pick from Houston, Payton Turner, is one of the more interesting prospects from this draft class.  He fits exactly what the Saints are looking for with players, fantastic physical profile who can produce at multiple positions, hence why they drafted him so early.  At 6’6” 268 pounds, with an 83 inch wingspan and 10.5 inch hands, he has a very good frame for the Saints to build off of, and teach him the nuances of NFL level defensive line.  

One of the most impressive things to note is Payton Turner outperformed himself statistically in 2020 in a lot of categories…but Houston only played less than half the games they normally do due to Covid (five games).  He had 10.5 tackles for loss, five sacks, a forced fumble, and 25 total tackles.  This is an absolutely phenomenal statline for so few games played, and shows Turner has the capability to produce due to his athletic traits.

Marcus Davenport

Another Saints first round pick, but in 2018, we wrap the list up with Marcus Davenport.  Another DE with a fantastic frame at 6’6” 265 pounds, and is still only 24 years of age, 25 by the start of the 2021-2022 season.  The main issue Davenport has to date is injuries, it seems like every time he really starts to produce he goes down and we do not see him again for awhile.  Just to list off his injuries since his draft year, here they are:

  • 2018 – Thumb fracture, had surgery prior to season, no games missed
  • 2018 – Toe sprain on right foot, 3 games missed
  • 2019 – Foot fracture (Lisfranc fracture), season ending surgery after week 14
  • 2020 – Elbow bruising, missed three games and practices prior to season
  • 2020 – Pedal toe sprain – missed week 4 

However, when he is not injured he has been an absolute monster in the games he started.  In 2019 when he started 13 games, he had 6 sacks, 3 forced fumbles, 16 QB hits, 17 pressures, 6 QB knockdowns, and 9 hurries.  If he starts this season or even splits with Payton Turner, and if he stays healthy, he will most definitely contribute to this front-seven without a doubt.  

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