Finding younger, more productive pass-rushers is an underrated priority for the Baltimore Ravens this offseason. The defense got by with recycled veterans Justin Houston and Jason Pierre-Paul, who are both free agents, while Odafe Oweh and David Ojabo are yet to deliver on their untapped potential.
Marcus Davenport offers excellent upside, according to Bleacher Report’s Kristopher Knox. He named the New Orleans Saints’ defensive end a fit based on “superstar potential.”
Although injuries have blighted Davenport’s development and numbers, Knox believes joining the Ravens would take the five-year pro’s game to another level: “With a big stage and double-digit-sack potential, the 26-year-old may finally get his own Pro Bowl nomination.”
Former 1st-Round Pick Suits Ravens’ Style of Defense
As Knox pointed out, Davenport’s numbers could use a boost. He has just 21.5 sacks to his credit after being selected 14th overall in the 2018 NFL draft.
Injuries have played their part in stymying production, with shoulder problems costing him six games in 2021. Davenport still managed to log a career-high nine quarterback takedowns that year, before an ankle injury limited him to nine starts this season.
At this best, Davenport can win off the edge with speed and even slide inside to create pressure as a bull-rushing defensive tackle. He broke through the interior to help Cameron Jordan sack Kirk Cousins against the Minnesota Vikings in Week 4:
Finishing plays like this is something Davenport needs to do more often. He tallied 14 pressures and seven QB knockdowns this season, according to Pro Football Reference. Davenport also recorded 17 or more pressures in each of his previous four seasons.
He’s an obvious physical fit for the Ravens’ hybrid defensive schemes. As a 6’6″, 265-pounder, Davenport is exactly the type of flexible defensive end/outside linebacker the Ravens usually stockpile on the edge.
Middling numbers mean the Ravens would be betting on potential if they signed Davenport. He’d be worth the risk with a market value projected by Spotrac.com to be $23.2 million annually over four years.
Making room for that contract won’t be easy when franchise quarterback Lamar Jackson needs to sign a new deal or sign the franchise tag. Jackson’s contract issue isn’t going away, but general manager Eric DeCosta can’t let it prevent him from fixing other positions of need on the roster.
Edge-rusher counts given the age and uncertainty among members of the depth chart.
Ravens Need Reinforcements on the Edge
Houston and Pierre-Paul are both 34 and set to enter the market after combining for 12.5 sacks this season. Neither received much support from other edge-rushers, with 2021 first-rounder Odafe Oweh logging only three sacks, while David Ojabo played in just two games after tearing his Achilles at Michigan’s pro day.
The Ravens need Oweh and Ojabo to step up since 27-year-old Tyus Bowser appeared in a mere nine games and recorded two sacks after also battling back from a torn Achilles. Now is the right time for the Ravens to bolster their contingent of pass-rushers.
Unfortunately, this year’s free-agent class isn’t exactly overflowing with bargain edge-rushers under 30. Davenport offers good value and the ability to quickly develop in a scheme more suited to his natural talents than the Saints’ 4-3 front.