67. Auburn DL Marlon Davidson
6-foot-3, 303 pounds
Yahoo Sports draft grade: 5.83 — starter potential
The lowdown: Davidson chose Auburn over Alabama and established himself immediately as a freshman, earning All-Freshman SEC honors in 2016. He developed into a front-line SEC defender by the end of his junior season in which he made 4.5 tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks and three blocked kicks (second in FBS) before returning for his senior season in 2019.
Last season was where Davidson really shined. In being named first-team All-SEC, he tied teammate (and potential top-10 pick) Derrick Brown for the team lead with 12.5 tackles for loss and led the Tigers with 7.5 sacks. Davidson played the base end spot, although that doesn’t appear to be his likely position in the NFL.
Auburn listed Davidson at 284 pounds as a freshman and sophomore and 278 as a junior and senior, but he showed up to the Senior Bowl weighing 297 and 303 at the scouting combine, suggesting the league’s feedback on him was that he needed to bulk up and kick more inside. Last season, Davidson was used mostly as a stand-up rusher on the defense’s right side, but he also spent time with his hand on the ground and lined up opposite opposing tackles.
Teams that mix and match along their defensive fronts will appreciate Davidson’s versatility, and he showed steady growth over his four years both against the run and pass. We don’t expect Davidson to be a top-flight pass rusher in the NFL, and his flash plays in college were limited, but there are a wide variety of schemes that can use his combination of quickness and strength.
There is some concern about his get-off, as Davidson routinely was one of the last men off the snap last season on Auburn’s talented D-line. He also doesn’t slide as well laterally as most college ends we studied this year, which might prompt the move inside. When his rushes have been stalled, we like that Davidson will get his big paws (10 inches) up in passing lanes, and that could work even better on the interior.
Davidson, who turns 22 in May, reminds us a bit of a Denico Autry clone (albeit a bigger one) and could carve out a role as a valuable second or third defensive tackle who can play outside when needed. He might not be special, but Davidson will make a defense better. He plays with high energy and enjoys the physical nature of the game.
By the numbers: Davidson started 51 games at Auburn — one shy of the all-time mark in program history behind former OT Lee Ziemba.
Interesting fact: Davidson considered entering the draft in 2019, but he wanted to keep a promise to his late mother. Cynthia Carter died unexpectedly on Feb. 23, 2015, during Davidson’s junior year of high school, when it was discovered she had a blood clot in her leg. Carter fell and hit her head just before being transferred to the hospital for emergency treatment. The clot had reached her heart in the ambulance, and she died at age 47.
Davidson made a pledge to honor his mother every day of his life, and he did so in high school by wearing No. 47. Another promise he made to Carter back in seventh grade — when he first had NFL dreams and told his mother he one day would buy her a house — was that he would receive his college degree.
Davidson honored that pledge and spoke about it at the scouting combine.
“I told her no matter what I’m going to take care of the family,” Davidson said. “Shoot, that’s what I’m doing now; I’m putting the family on my back, and I’m going to continue to do what I do best, and that’s ball.”
And what it now means to keep that promise?
“It means a lot, man,” he said. “My mother was my rock. I was the baby boy of the house, so everything she did, I did. Shoot, I was like a tick on her and stuff, just walking around with her everywhere she’d go.
“Just the love that I have for her, and the love that she had for me and everything she instilled in me — to this moment, I feel grateful for it. I’m going to continue to show her and continue to protect the brand, protect my brand, which is my last name. I’m going to continue to show people I am Marlon Davidson, and I’m the best at what I do.”
Draft range: Top-75 pick