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Brock Huard’s 2018 NFL Draft preview: UTSA DE Marcus Davenport

DE Marcus Davenport could be the first player from his school selected in Round 1. (AP)

Each day, Brock Huard is profiling a different draft prospect that he considers an early-round possibility for the Seahawks. His draft previews continue with UTSA DE Marcus Davenport. The audio is embedded above.

Seahawks’ biggest question marks for 2018: Part 1 | Part 2

Position: DE
Height/weight: 6-6, 264
Class: Sr.
Hometown: San Antonio, TX

Scouting report: Davenport’s road to the NFL Draft is an inspiring one that starts, quite literally, from Day One of the 21-year-old’s life (Davenport was born months premature and weighed less than four pounds). Davenport sprouted to 6-feet-6 by the time he was a high school senior, but only weighed around 200 pounds and was the 245th-ranked defensive end in the nation. He received just three football scholarship offers, and ultimately stayed in Texas when he committed to UTSA. Things eventually turned around: by the time he was a senior with the Roadrunners, Davenport had gained 50 pounds and was one of the program’s all-time leaders in sacks (22.0). He became just the second UTSA player to be invited to the NFL Combine, and could become the highest-drafted player in school history. Scouts can’t get enough of Davenport’s rare combination of size and speed – he’s 6-6, 265, runs a 4.58 40, and has an 81-inch wingspan.

Brock’s take: “He is one gifted athlete. And in 2013, ‘14, ‘15, or ‘16, quite honestly, I think all these draftniks would say, ‘This is a Seahawk kind of guy.’ This is the unique talent that Pete Carroll and John Schneider so covet. I’m talking 6-feet-6 at the combine, nearly 34-inch arms, 265 pounds and number one when it came to running the 40-yard dash, at 4.58. He reminds me an awful lot of a guy I did see in college, and that was a defensive end out of BYU [named] Ziggy Ansah, who has become a franchise-level pass rusher for Detroit.”

Davenport’s talent is off the charts, but Huard says he remains an unfinished prospect.

“Pete [Carroll] loves Alabama guys. Especially on that defensive line he’s drafted a ton of them. Why? Because they are so technique sound. They two-game, they play for everybody else in the defense, they understand in the big picture what the little details mean at the D-line position. This kid will have none of that when he enters camp, no matter where it is in the NFL. There’s going to be an enormous learning curve, but you just cannot get away from the freak show [talent level]. When you ask Pete Carroll about Aaron Donald, what makes him so unique, what does Pete say to you? He runs 4.5 and plays defensive line. There aren’t humans like that. Well, this kid at 6-6, 265 runs 4.58; there’s not human beings like that.

“He’s not ascended into the Top-10. At the Senior Bowl, a lot of people said, ‘Hold on a second, this is going to take a little bit more work in progress.’ And while he runs 4.58, it takes those [arms] a little while to get going. Von Miller? He runs 4.58 and it’s instantaneous. He has so much traction and covers so much ground so early; he’s so dynamic and a little bit more explosive. I think [Davenport’s] vertical jump is kind of representative of that. This is not a 39-inch guy that gets it going right away; he’s a 33-inch vertical, which is sixth-place among those 2018 defensive ends. That ability to crank it up instantaneously and set that edge is why this guy’s not in the Top-10.

“He’s not going to be the Seahawks’ pick at No. 18. In 2013 I would’ve said yes, in 2014 I would’ve said yes, in 2015 I would’ve said yes, in 2016 I would’ve said yes. In 2017 I would have said maybe no, because they were going to accumulate and assemble draft picks. Right now, with a 1st and a 4th, it’s a no. But if you trade Earl Thomas and you get a 2nd and another 4th and you start to kind of add some more pieces in this draft, that no goes to maybe.”

How he’d fit: Defensive end might be Seattle’s greatest position of need heading into the draft. The team traded veteran Michael Bennett, and could be without Cliff Avril should he be unable to return from a neck injury when camp rolls around. This is also a defense that’s looking to get younger and faster, and Davenport checks that box. Still, if the Seahawks don’t trade Earl Thomas, they’ll need to use their 18th-overall pick to trade back and accumulate selections in the second- and third-rounds. There’s a chance Davenport could fall into the late first or second round; if he does, and Seattle nets picks in Round 2, he would be a steal.