As you may have seen a lot these past weeks and few months, UT San Antonio Edge monster Marcus Davenport has been the name most-often pegged to the Packers at number 14.
There are plenty of reasons for this.
First, the Packers defense has been horrible, especially on third downs. The defense has seemed to have more success getting off the field when it's been 3rd & 1 than if it was 3rd & 10.
Clay Matthews and Nick Perry don't have the same boost they used to have. Fans seem to have forgotten how much juice Matthews had those first three or four seasons. He was a difference-maker, an NFL Defensive Player of the Year front-runner for a few years. He's still the best the Packers have, but they need an upgrade and some youth.
True, TJ Watt could have been that guy last year, and sure, his Badger teammate Vince Biegel was drafted to bolster the pass rush. Reggie Gilbert has some potential. But we thought that about Jarone Elliott too, didn't we?
Kyler Fackrell is who he is. He's not going to emerge as that difference-maker the Packers need getting after QBs off the edge.
Davenport could be.
His critics point to San Antonio, and his level of competition.
DeMarcus Wareand Khalil Mack played for similar small, no-name schools. Did you see any of them play in college? How about Nick Collins? Bethune-Cookman doesn't have a lot of games on ESPN. Nether did Donald Driver at Alcorn State.
But hey, Brett Hundley, Datone Jones, and Damarious Randall played in the big Pac-12. So did Carl Bradford and Trevor Davis. How did those evaluations work out for Ted Thompson and our Packers?
That's right. It all comes down to talent, skill, opportunity, and a little bit of luck.
What Marcus Davenport has is very rare. Mike Mayock calls him "special".
How could this man be available at the #14 pick?
First of all, I don't think he will be. I think someone will take him well before the Packers pick.
But GM's aren't as brilliant as they want us to think. They guess as much as you and I do. Looking back at every draft from 2017 and prior shows this.
Because Davenport didn't play in the SEC, or Big 10, Big 12, Pac 12, or ACC, scouts and GM's often ignore their own eyes and data.
True, with Khalil Mack out of Buffalo, they figured it out and he went high to Oakland. But not number one overall. That was Jadeveon Clowney, who went number one overall in that 2014 Draft.
Clowney is a stud, and has real special attributes, very rare. That is why he was an unquestioned #1-overall pick four years ago. But how rare?
Well maybe not that rare. See Davenport.
You probably can't find two more similar sets of measurable and numbers from any two combines. A half on inch, two pounds, same mid 4.5 forty time (think about that. It's faster than many good WR's and RB's put up).
The biggest differences between these two players is the hairstyle. Clowney has the flowing dreads. The real biggest difference between the two is that one played on national TV every week in the SEC for the South Carolina Gamecocks, who were good those years. Few NFL fans even knew UT San Antonio had a football team, and fewer still can tell you what their school nickname is. Clue: Think Wile E. Coyote.
Actually, while critical scouts and uneducated fan are saying things like "well Davenport never played against anyone at UTSA", what they should be saying is that he is used to playing standing up, unlike what Nick Perry did at USC, and Clowney at South Carolina. That's a harder transition than many people realize.
Let's take a closer look at Mr. Davenport, in case the mock kings are correct this year.
What more do you want from a player? If he played at Alabama, LSU, or Florida, he'd be the number one pick and all those QB's would go after him.
I'd also love Griffin with the third round pick, sandwiched by CB's going with the #45 pick and both fourth round picks.
Here's a little more from Marcus, from his combine workout and some actual GAME-FILM on Davenport. Get to know this young man. Do you think he will still be available at #14? Knowing how bad the Packers cornerbacks were, are, can you use the #14 pick on Marcus if he's still there?
Davenport reminds me more of DeMarcus Ware than he does Clowney, and that's just fine. Ware had a better career, and was an instant impact player for the Cowboys. They called him "raw" and "a bit of a project" too, and you know why. Because he came from Troy University and not Ohio State or Alabama. But Ware put up 8 sacks his rookie year, then 11 1/2, 14, 20, 11, 15 1/2, 19 1/2, and 11 1/5 over his first eight seasons. How would you Packer fans like that kind of rawness from Davenport in green and yellow over the next few seasons with Aaron Rodgers and Mike Pettine?