Things are just getting started for the Falcons as the players take to the practice field for the first time since the end of the ill-fated 2020 season. Arthur Smith brought in an almost entirely new coaching staff, and Atlanta has added 20 UDFAs along with 9 drafted rookies to the roster. With rookie minicamp and the first few OTAs (Organized Training Activities, for those who are unaware) in the books, we’ve started to hear a few interesting details that are worth discussing.
From free agent addition Fabian Moreau starting at outside CB across from A.J. Terrell, to veteran Josh Andrews getting the first shot at left guard, we’ve begun to see some of the most important training camp battles take shape. Another player we’re all itching to hear about is 2020 second-rounder Marlon Davidson, and so far the news appears to be quite positive.
#Falcons coach Arthur Smith on DT Marlon Davidson: “Really happy how Marlon has progressed.”— D. Orlando Ledbetter (@DOrlandoAJC) June 2, 2021
Arthur Smith has reportedly been impressed by Davidson’s progression through the early part of the offseason as he works to return to full health. It’s not much to go off of, but any positive news on a high draft pick who has yet to make a big impact is welcome. Davidson will hopefully have a chance to start the season off healthy—something he didn’t get to do in 2020.
Davidson was drafted by the Falcons with the 47th overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft to play on the interior next to Grady Jarrett, but didn’t see the field much due to an unfortunate set of circumstances. A knee injury in training camp limited his reps significantly, and he didn’t see the field for the first time until Week 3 against Chicago. Davidson then wound up on the reserve/COVID-19 list for most of October, and wouldn’t make it back on the field until Week 11. He re-injured his knee against the Chargers in Week 14 and missed the next two games, before making a brief appearance in Week 17 against the Bucs.
Davidson was hot and cold in limited action during the 2020 season, with a solid debut against the Bears (4 tackles, 2 solo) and a decent game against the Raiders (4 tackles). In the remaining six games he appeared in, Davidson logged just one statistic: a pass deflection in Week 5. He played just 123 total snaps throughout the year.
We’ll hope Davidson can turn an early positive impression on the new coaching staff into a significant role in 2021. The Falcons will be depending on Davidson, John Cominsky, and other young holdovers from the previous regime to revitalize a defensive line that has struggled mightily in recent years—particularly when rushing the passer. Davidson could be an excellent fit in Dean Pees defense due to his versatility: he played just about everywhere on the line at Auburn, including on the interior, at 5T EDGE, and even as a stand-up pass rusher.