Marlon Davison is now a Falcon, and it didn’t take him long to endear himself to fans.
Once the selection was made, videos surfaced across Twitter with an amazing soundbite from the NFL Combine this past February. In it, former Auburn defensive lineman Davidson made arguably the most remembered sound bite of the entire showcase.
#Auburn DL Marlon Davidson on what he loves most about the game:— Trevor Sikkema (@TampaBayTre) February 27, 2020
“What I love most about the game is that I can literally go out there and hit a man consistently, and pound him, and the police won’t come.” pic.twitter.com/EgV9rtIcsL
From then, it was well established that Davidson was a different type of ball player, one that brings a bit of toughness and a mentality that makes you second guess about coming across him. The Atlanta Falcons needed that type of kick in the pants on defense and they made Davidson their second-round selection in this year’s draft.
Let’s break down Davidson’s skill and why the 47th overall selection is a valuable piece to the Falcons defense for years to come.
Marlon Davidson Scouting Report
Weight: 303 pounds
Career stats: 50 career games, 174 career tackles, 28 tackles for loss, 14.5 sacks, nine pass deflections, three forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries, three blocked field goals
Games watched: 2017 vs. Georgia, 2018 vs. LSU, 2019 vs. Oregon, 2019 vs. Minnesota
Davidson was a four-year starter along with Auburn Tigers defensive line since entering the program in 2016. Davidson earned SEC all-freshman team honors after the 2016 season. However, his biggest claim to fame was earning second-team All-America honors and first-team All-SEC honors this past 2019 season. That was accomplished despite playing alongside 2020 7th overall pick, Derrick Brown. In 2019, Davidson also set career-highs in tackles, tackles for loss, and sacks as his skill began to hit it’s stride.
Davidson displayed plenty of versatility during his collegiate career, being used as a 3-tech defensive tackle, as well as the 5-tech as a defensive end and even as a stand-up outside linebacker. Make no mistake about it, Davidson’s compact frame produced wherever he was placed. Davidson comes equipped with bear claws instead of human hands. Over time, his hand technique improved and are packed with plenty of power. Those hands are always active and come in handy when he has to chop or club away the hands of opposing blockers. Davidson’s first step has more than enough quickness/burst, able to get upfield with little wasted motion.
His upper-body strength is impressive and able to consistently shed blocks while maintaining play awareness to track the ball carrier. If Davidson is unable to get to the QB when rushing, he has the mind frame to attack the quarterbacks arm and/or hands to dislodge the ball and force the turnover.
Davidson’s motor is easy to locate on film as his effort is contagious, with teammates feeding off his energy and vice versa. Even while playing next to Brown and needing a couple of seasons to scratch his potential, Davidson’s confidence never wavered. At the point of attack, Davidson is very much able to hold his own and anchor and constantly causes issues for tight ends and running backs trying to slow down his stout frame.
Even though Davidson was inserted on the edge and as a standup defender, he should not reside there much in Atlanta. The lack of desired length is also a reason why he may not see a ton of snaps on the edge as he did in college. There is not a ton of fluidity in Davidson’s hips and is likely better suited to 3-tech duty in the Falcons scheme.
On the collegiate level, power blockers (especially on the interior) gave Davidson some issues on occasion. Davidson needs to prevent blockers from getting first contact into his frame. That aspect also shows up on tape as Davidson has to work a little harder to disengage. Scouts also question his lack of usage on run downs, which can also be something of note for the Falcons, especially on base downs.
The Falcons needed to address the defensive fairly early in the 2020 NFL Draft. Many assumed it would occur in round one but it did not. Instead, the Falcons decided to add this SEC product that has a few qualities that are similar to Pro Bowl defensive tackle Grady Jarrett.
Falcons head coach Dan Quinn placed an emphasis this offseason to incorporate more skill along the defensive line that can generate interior pressure more consistently against quarterbacks. Which is where the selection of Davidson comes into play. With his skill set, the Falcons are likely to kick him inside next to Jarrett and together, the sneaky good athleticism of both defensive linemen can collapse pockets on the regular. I can foresee an explosive tandem between the two that can cause a ton of havoc against the opposition.
The presence of Davidson and Jarrett will also open things up for the true edge rushers in Dante Fowler Jr. and Takkarist McKinley and create many more one-on-one opportunities for both. Davidson seemed to come into his own during his senior season and everything clicked. There is still room for improvement, of course, but having Davidson in a Falcons uniform adds more aggressiveness and tenacity on what has been an improving unit this offseason.