The Biggest Vikings Bust Has Been Predicted
It is important for a few young Vikings to perform well in the upcoming season not only for the team’s success but also for the sake of their careers. Lewis Cine and Andrew Booth – the two top picks of the 2022 draft class – missed most of their debut season with injuries. Their rise to stardom, or at least into the starting unit, would be a significant reason for optimism in the Vikings’ camp.
The Biggest Vikings Bust Has Been Predicted
This year’s first-round pick Jordan Addison has missed the majority of the offseason workouts with an undisclosed minor injury but is expected to be ready for training camp. A different Viking was just named candidate to be a bust by Bleacher Report‘s Alex Ballentine.
The writer predicted Marcus Davenport to have a disappointing campaign.
Minnesota was 31st in passing defense and 23rd in pressure percentage. They are making a sizable bet that Marcus Davenport is going to help improve those numbers in 2023. He got a one-year, $13 million contract from Minnesota in free agency.
That’s a bet the Saints have been making with frustrating results for years. When Davenport is at the top of his game, he’s a difference-maker. But he’s dealt with plenty of injuries and inconsistencies throughout his career.
A year after setting a career high with nine sacks, he had just half a sack in 2022. Sacks don’t always tell the full story but his overall pressure rate dropped from 16.2 percent to 13.4 percent, per Sports Info Solutions.
Despite only being 26, Davenport’s injury history is as long as a CVS receipt and includes calf, ankle, shoulder, elbow and toe ailments. The Vikings counting on him to remain healthy and become a great sidekick to Danielle Hunter is a bit too optimistic.
Davenport’s major flaw is indeed his injury history. If he turns out to be a free-agent bust, he most likely suffered another injury. The defender appeared in 63 of 82 games with the Saints in his five-year tenure and still hasn’t logged a full season, which is concerning.
However, that is why Davenport was available in the first place. He is a fantastic player coming off the edge in both pass rush and run stop but had to settle for a $13 million, one-year deal. That sounds like a lot but it is not for an edge rusher with his potential in 2023. Those contracts are often called “prove-it deals” and this is exactly what this is. He will either have a great season and sign a humungous contract next offseason or will have to settle once again for a short-term deal.
The UTSA product came into the draft as an athletic freak. At the combine, he was measured at 6’5″ and 264 pounds and ran the 40-yard dash in 4.58 seconds with elite 10-yard and 20-yard splits which is why the Saints traded up in the first round, giving up an additional first-rounder, to select the defensive end.
In his five years with the Saints, Davenport recorded 21.5 sacks, 142 combined tackles, 25 tackles for loss, and 60 quarterback hits. He did not live up to his sky-high expectations on the stat sheet, but his talent is top-notch. Davenport is a player who is much better than his counting stats indicate. He was the top-ranked edge rusher in PFF’s free-agent rankings:
Since he entered the league in 2018, Davenport’s 17.8% pass-rush win rate and 13.9% pressure percentage are both top-20 marks among edge defenders, and he’s also earned a very respectable 82.1 run-defense grade for his career, which ranks 16th over the span.
Davenport has five straight campaigns grading above 70.0. The issue is that he’s yet to log 600 snaps in a single season. At the end of the day, top-20 edge defenders against the pass and run don’t reach free agency often, and while his injury list is long, it doesn’t include any devastating ligament tears.PFF
The Vikings absolutely need Davenport to work out, no matter what will happen with Danielle Hunter. A productive and disruptive pass rush is the best help a young secondary can get. The backups D.J. Wonnum and Patrick Jones haven’t shown enough to be worthy of a starting spot. Davenport has the potential to be a perennial Pro Bowler but he needs to stay healthy to reach it.
Janik Eckardt is a football fan who likes numbers and stats. The Vikings became his favorite team despite their quarterback at the time, Christian Ponder. He is a walking soccer encyclopedia, loves watching sitcoms, and Classic rock is his music genre of choice. Follow him on Twitter if you like the Vikings: @JanikEckardt