When the Minnesota Vikings signed Marcus Davenport to a one-year, $13 million deal, it was viewed by many to be a low-risk, high-reward signing for the team.
Kwesi Adofo-Mensah is essentially taking a chance on a player who didn’t meet the lofty expectations with the New Orleans Saints. New Orleans traded two first-round picks to the Green Bay Packers in order to move up in the 2018 Draft to select Davenport with the 14th overall pick.
Marcus Davenport wasn’t necessarily a bust, he has yet to develop into the elite pass rusher the Saints were hoping he’d become. Last season, Davenport only registered half a sack in the nine games he started. Then there’s the injury concerns. In the last three seasons, Davenport has started in only 19 games.
However, Davenport has undeniable upside. He’s an athletic freak who some pundits compared to Danielle Hunter coming out of college. There are also signs that he can be a very productive pass rusher in the NFL. In every season since 2018, Davenport has recorded at least a 13% pressure rate. His pressure rate ranks 4th among all edge rushers since entering the league. If Davenport is able to take that next step, then the Vikings have a premium pass rusher at a discount.
While there are signs that it could happen, there is a distinct possibility that things won’t pan out. The Saints have had an above-average defense for a few years now, and I find it hard to believe that Davenport’s underwhelming performance was a product of bad coaching. Dennis Allen has been in charge of the Saints' defense for a long time, so this will be Davenport’s first time playing under a new defensive coordinator.
A fresh start on a new team may be precisely what Davenport needs to elevate his game. It also means that there are no more excuses. If Davenport doesn’t play up to his potential under new coaches, then it’ll become clear that this was never a coaching issue. That’s why 2023 will be a career-defining season for Marcus Davenport. Either he’ll find himself a home in Minnesota for the next few years, or he’ll end up being a journeyman pass rusher like Yannick Ngakoue.
It’ll be interesting to see how it all plays out.