Marcus Davenport is PFF’s most-effective pass rusher — when healthy

There aren’t many players with Marcus Davenport’s physical tools, a combination of size and speed that’s extremely difficult to defend when employed correctly. And the New Orleans Saints’ former first round draft pick is finally living up to the hype by combining his athleticism with refined arm-fighting techniques — when he’s been on the field, anyway.

He’s only logged 35 pass-rushing snaps across two games due to a Week 1 pectoral muscle injury, but Davenport has achieved the highest pass rushing productivity rating from Pro Football Focus among all defensive linemen (ends and tackles) who have seen 30 or more opportunities. He’s picked up a sack and eight total pressures for a 12.9 PRP score, which is higher than Myles Garrett (12.6), Maxx Crosby (11.4), and Jadeveon Clowney (11.3), and, well, everyone else. His PRP score was previously listed at 13.2, but recent games are reviewed continuously by PFF and will be adjusted in real time as needed.

But there’s the problem right there: Davenport has totaled as many pass-rushing snaps as he should be getting per game. Durability has been and remains a major concern with him, making it tough to ask him to lead the unit despite his obvious potential. As promising as his playmaking ability is, there’s an equally-large probability that he’ll miss long stretches of the season with nagging injuries. Garrett and Crosby have each seen 200-plus pass-rush snaps so far, while Clowney isn’t too far behind at 161.

Davenport has averaged 479 total snaps (313 per-season on pass rushing downs) a year through his NFL career so far, compared to 953 defensive snaps per season for Cameron Jordan (616 as a pass rusher). If Davenport could prove that his body can hold up to a full season’s punishment, it would be a lot easier to buy the idea of him replacing Jordan someday.

His 2018 rookie season was stunted by an offseason thumb fracture and a midseason toe strain. A Lisfranc fracture cut the 2019 campaign short. His 2020 season began with a four-game absence due to a bruised elbow bone, and another toe injury limited him until a late-season concussion sidelined him again. And he missed most of five games with that pectoral muscle issue this year.

Hopefully he’s finally turned a corner and can be the impact player up front the Saints have been counting on. The entire complexion of their defensive line changes with him in the game, and his availability will be critical as Jordan continues to decline. For now, all fans can do is take encouragement from his strong performance so far and hope he finally enjoys a streak of good health.


Studs and Duds from Saints' 13-10 road win over Seahawks