Not many players can say they started all four seasons in college football, but Auburn’s Marlon Davidson did on that Tigers’ defensive line and was picked in the second round of the 2020 draft by Atlanta. Here are Davidson’s odds at Mybookie to win 2020 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year as well as the Falcons’ over/under win total.
Davidson was a very highly touted recruit out of Greenville High School in Alabama. He signed with Auburn because his brother, Kenneth Carter, played football there and is now on staff for the Tigers.
Davidson made an instant impact on the Tigers in 201 6, starting in all 13 games and becoming the first Auburn freshman to start on the defensive line since 1985. Davidson was named to the SEC’s All-Freshman Team and finished with 38 tackles.
The next year, Davis had 43 tackles and was named SEC Defensive Lineman of the Week after a big game vs. Missouri. In 2018, Davidson had 46 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks and 11 QB hurries for the season. His three blocked kicks led SEC and ranked second nationally.
Then last year, Davidson was second-team All-American and first-team All-SEC. He recorded career-highs in tackles (48), tackles for loss (12.5), sacks (7.5) and fumbles forced (2).
Davidson rotated between being a stand-up edge rusher and hand-in-the-dirt interior lineman throughout his career but did check into the NFL Combine with an additional 20 pounds on his frame to account for any transition to three-technique tackle. Davis has the raw strength and signature rip-move to win against offensive tackles and tight ends at the next level immediately.
“I can do it all,” Davidson said early in his introductory conference call with Atlanta media. “Coming from off the edge, I can do whatever move you want me to. I just feel like I’m that type of athlete. I feel like I’m that type of player — when I step on the field, I feel like I’m the best. Going to get the best out of me every snap.”
Davidson could have left for the NFL after his junior season but wanted to keep his promise to his late mother to graduate. Davidson lost his mom when he was a 16-year-old high school student after she suffered a tragic fall that caused the blood clot that ultimately led to her death.
Davidson ran the 40-yard dash in 5.04 seconds at the NFL Combine. Davidson (6’3/303) posted the ninth-fastest 40-yard dash among interior defensive linemen testing. Pro Football Focus listed Marlon Davidson as the fifth best interior defensive lineman in the 2020 draft class.
“I have a lot of dog in me. I really do,” Davidson said prior to his workout at the NFL Combine. “I’m not one of the type of guys who’s going to sit there and get beat all game. The offense is winning one or two no matter what, but I’m going to come out and whoop their tail, and then I’m going to come back and whoop it again, then I come back and I’m going to do it again. It’s going to keep coming with repetition. At that point, they’re like, ‘Man, I got to go against Marlon Davidson every play.'”
Davidson was one of the best players on the field in the Senior Bowl as he got the attention of scouts. Even while he was out on the edge, Davidson played the game like a penetrating defensive tackle, which is the role the Falcons envision for him in Atlanta.
Adding more pass rushers was a priority for the Falcons this offseason. The Falcons finished 29th in the league in sacks last season with 28. The additions of Dante Fowler in free agency and now Davidson gives the Falcons more options to get to the quarterback.
“He’s been a defensive end,” Falcons coach Dan Quinn said of Davdison. “He’s been stand up and down. We’re going to try to feature him over the defensive tackle spots, at the guards, as often as you can. With a guy with that versatile, we’re going to try to partner him up inside as often as we can.”