The New Orleans Saints famously traded two first-round picks to leap up in the 2018 NFL Draft to select athletic edge rusher Marcus Davenport out of UTSA.
It was a surprise splash move in a weak draft at edge rusher. The Saints hoped Davenport would grow into a menace opposite Cameron Jordan, giving them one final piece to a championship puzzle.
It didn't work out.
In five seasons with the Saints, Davenport generated 21.5 total sacks and 142 combined tackles. His pressure numbers were actually solid early in his career (51 in 2019, ranked 25th in the NFL), but he missed games due to injury and never became the sack demon the club had hoped he would be.
It looked like Davenport might have turned a corner in 2021, generating nine sacks and 42 pressures in just 11 games played. But he couldn't build on that performance in his final year in the Bayou.
In 2022, Davenport was credited with only half of a sack in 15 games (Week 4 on Kirk Cousins, split with Jordan).
After inking a deal to join the Minnesota Vikings this offseason, Davenport hopes a fresh start might help the next stage of his career.
As for the 0.5-sack 2022?
"I'm still upset," Davenport said Thursday of the disappointing campaign. "But you know, that's just fuel for the future. I kind of go over my play and see that I didn't capitalize, as much as I would say that I had some success in matchups and was putting the pressures [on the quarterback], but I wasn't necessarily being the smartest player to know when to capitalize and how to capitalize, using my teammates, using the scheme and just overall winning."
In Brian Flores' defense, the Vikings hope Davenport pairing with Danielle Hunter gives Minnesota the juice on the edge it lacked down the stretch last season.
"Honestly, I don't know how I'm gonna fit yet," Davenport said. "But, you know, just looking at great players and having seen them throughout the years, being drafted and having comparisons [to Hunter], I know they're great players. I just want to come in and be able to help them contribute and be a great player in my own right and help us all out. I think together, just in general, we can all be a force."
The Vikings inked Davenport to a prove-it deal -- one year, $13 million with $10 million guaranteed and a portion tied to gameday active bonuses, per Over The Cap. It's a solid payday for a player with fewer sacks in five years than T.J. Watt (22.5) had in 2021 alone. The deal showed teams still believe Davenport has room to grow while acknowledging the issues that stunted that process in New Orleans.
The 26-year-old admitted he's ready to start anew.
"Really, I just want to start from zero," Davenport said. "I need to know my game. And then I have to study other people's games way better because I want to dominate.
" As far as the past, I'm really trying to let go of everything and just keep walking forward and looking forward."