The Falcons selected defensive tackle Marlon Davidson out of Auburn with the 47th pick in the second round. I love this selection for Atlanta. Not only does it solve a positional need along the defensive front, but Davidson fits Dan Quinn’s scheme to perfection.
Quinn and Dimitroff were steadfast in their approach to bolster the offensive and defensive line. Both believe that is where games are won and lost. “We went into this evening focused on the interior,” Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff said. “Getting stronger, bigger, and more versatile inside, and we accomplished our goals.” Quinn went on to reiterate, “For us, it was the trenches, it’s a line of scrimmage game, we wanted to attach how those specific areas could improve.”
During his introductory conference call with the Atlanta media, Davidson reaffirmed his ability and willingness to move around the defensive front. “I can play it all,” Davidson said. “Whatever they want me to be, that’s what I’m going to be. If they want me at 285, 280 playing a big end on the edge or if they want to kick me inside, I can do it all.” Davidson currently weighs a hair over 300 lbs and will likely be used in tandem with Grady Jarrett.
For Quinn’s defense to reach its full potential, pressure on opposing quarterbacks must be generated from the four-man front. Davidson can not only play defensive end in obvious run situations but kick inside on passing downs, creating a pass-rushing group the Falcons haven’t had in years. With this flexibility in alignment, it allows Quinn to put his four best pass rushers on the field at the same time.
Davidson is already a formidable defender against the run but will have to develop his pass rush. Falcons great, Chuck Smith, spoke with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, saying, “Marlon is a good football player, he’s strong vs. the run and will develop into a productive pass rusher,” Smith wrote in a text. “This is a great pick for the Falcons.”
Davidson possesses the raw power to overpower guards but pairs that brute strength with lateral quickness, giving him the potential to be a tantalizing interior pass rusher. Quarterbacks like Tom Brady and Drew Brees have incredible pocket awareness; they love stepping up to avoide edge rushers. What is the best counter to this — pushing the pocket.
As dominant as Grady Jarrett has been, without at least one other guy up front that can also generate pressure consistently, he is going to attract double and triple teams regularly. A quality pass-rushing wingman does not necessarily have to fill the stat sheet up but must apply steady pressure. Davidson can be that other half. But it’s the former Auburn Tiger’s intangibles that have those inside the organization most excited.
Davidson was a captain at Auburn, over first-round selection Derrick Brown. He possesses elite confidence and leadership qualities that have been absent on the defensive side of the ball for years. “When I step on the field, I feel like I’m the best,” Davidson said and went on, “The defense is going to be good next year, I promise you that.”