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2020 NFL Draft grades: High marks for DL Marlon Davidson, OL Matt Hennessy

Everyone’s enthusiastic about Davidson, and most like Hennessy.

Auburn v Florida Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images

We’re back with a quick roundup of grades from the draft’s second day. The Falcons hit two notes you would have expected—interior defensive line and interior offensive line—and grabbed quality prospects at both spots. Predictably, those moves were more popular with both the fanbase and draft analysts than the day 1 selection of cornerback A.J. Terrell.

This is by no means an exhaustive list of grades, but it’s good enough to get the gist. Most analysts really liked the Davidson pick and at least somewhat liked the Hennessy pick, with none of the “what were the Falcons doing?” reactions they had to A.J. Terrell.

Here’s that roundup.

Marlon Davidson

SB Nation: Pretty good

Davidson was the second-best defensive tackle on his own roster (behind Derrick Brown) but still one of the top five interior linemen in the country. Now he gets to work alongside Grady Jarrett, which is ... probably gonna feel familiar, I bet.

CBS Sports: B-

DE to DT conversion. Heavy hands. Power for days. Good burst for his size. Major hustle player. Traits are there. Just wonder about playing new position in NFL.

Bleacher Report: A

Davidson is a 303-pounder with a dad bod who lined up as both a stand-up edge-rusher and an interior defensive tackle for the Tigers. He sets the edge well as a run defender, uses his arms effectively to disengage and swim away from blockers, and can apply some pass pressure with either a bull rush or just enough quickness and torque to win with athleticism now and then.

As a tackle, he’s quick off the blocks and stays low, can hold his own against a double-team and can use initial quickness to cause some disruption. He hustles to the whistle and often gets involved in plays on the opposite side of the field.

Davidson has enough positives to turn into Cameron Jordan after a year of NFL coaching and conditioning. That’s an ambitious comparison, but Davidson’s unique playing style and engaging personality should keep him in the league for a long time, even if he turns into more of a complementary defender than a star.In the short term, he’ll line up next to Grady Jarrett and play roles similar to the ones he played next to Derrick Brown at Auburn. And he’ll make the Falcons defensive line much better as a result.

Sports Illustrated: B+

In some ways, Davidson—who played in Derrick Brown’s shadow at Auburn and was somewhat underappreciated—gives the Falcons another, more innately versatile version of Takk McKinley. He is a defensive end who has the tools to work off the edge or slide inside and play defensive tackle. That’s for 2020. For 2021 and beyond, Davidson potentially fills the role that the 2017 first-rounder McKinley, whose fifth-year option has not been picked up, has yet to fully maximize. After quietly going 6-2 in the second half of this season, this talented team is in “win now” mode. It needed more defensive line depth. A versatile player like Davidson can potentially solve multiple problems.

USA Today: C+

Davidson is undoubtedly a talented player but a transition will be required because he just doesn’t have enough athleticism to beat pro tackles consistently. He should play next to Grady Jarrett in the middle of the Falcons defense. If he can make the transition inside smoothly, Atlanta will have a formidable pair of tackles.

The Falcoholic’s readers: A


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Matt Hennessy

CBS Sports: B+

Incredibly agile center with awesome balance. Anchor and overall strength need to get better. Falcons needed more youth on the interior of their offensive line. By his second or third season, Hennessy can be a star.

Bleacher Report: B

Hennessy, the brother of the Jets long snapper Thomas Hennessy, is an impressive pass protector on tape, with a knack for mirroring and adjusting to a pass-rusher’s moves. According to Sports Info Solutions, he ranked first among all centers in both blown block percentage in the passing game (0.2 percent blown blocks) and Sports Info Solutions’ proprietary pass-blocking points system. He’s also quick-footed when moving laterally for outside zones or other combo blocks.

Hennessy weighed 307 pounds at the combine but looks leaner on tape. He’s no mauler, but he’s the kind of technician who can develop into a starter.

USA Today: B-

This might be a pick for the future with Alex Mack getting up there in age. I get the strategy, but there are bigger needs for a team that is built to win now.