The ‘Bust’ Chatter about New Viking Is Lame

Apr 26, 2018; Arlington, TX, USA; Texas-San Antonio defensive end Marcus Davenport arrives on the red carpet before the 2018 NFL Draft at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports.

The Minnesota Vikings have not yet played a regular season game in 2023, but bust labels are getting handed out.

That’s the latest and greatest speculation from some as preseason hits Week No. 2.

The ‘Bust’ Chatter about New Viking Is Lame

And one new Viking fetched the label this week from Bleacher Report — newcomer EDGE rusher Marcus Davenport.

Chatter about New
Jan 2, 2022; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; New Orleans Saints defensive end Marcus Davenport (92) in the second quarter against the Carolina Panthers at the Caesars Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports.

BR‘s David Kenyon published a ‘5 NFL Free Agents Most Likely to Bust After Training Camp’ article, and Davenport made the cut.

Davenport has not played in the preseason and is on deck to debut as a starting outside linebacker in Minnesota’s defense against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 1, or 26 days from now.

The Vikings Have 4
Sep 25, 2022; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; New Orleans Saints defensive end Marcus Davenport (92) rushes off the field against the Carolina Panthers during the second half at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports.

Kenyon explained about the bust nomination, “After tallying 4.5 sacks as a rookie with the New Orleans Saints in 2018, he recorded six in 2019. He then had only 1.5 sacks in 2020, a career-high nine in 2021 and 0.5 in 2022. Davenport has done a superb job generating pressure, yet he’s struggled to consistently finish those opportunities.”

The Saints selected Davenport in Round 1 of the 2018 NFL Draft, and indeed, he has not entirely lived up to the draft stock through five seasons.

Jan 3, 2021; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; Carolina Panthers quarterback P.J. Walker (6) throws an interception as he is pressured by New Orleans Saints defensive end Marcus Davenport (92) in the fourth quarter at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports.

“The optimistic view is that Davenport will thrive opposite Danielle Hunter, giving the Minnesota Vikings a dynamic pair of pass-rushers. The more realistic view is Davenport won’t produce to the level of his $13 million salary,” Kenyon concluded.

Naming Davenport as a bust candidate in the summer is lame for a couple of reasons. Foremost, the EDGE rusher opposite Danielle Hunter on Sundays — for the last six years — has not struggled. Everson Griffen and Za’Darius Smith can attest. Davenport should have his pass-rushing opportunities freed up by Hunter’s quarterback terrorism.

Nov 24, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings linebacker Danielle Hunter (99) celebrates the win after the game against the New England Patriots at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

Next, Davenport is currently the league’s 30th highest-paid EDGE rusher per average annual salary. The Vikings did not utterly break the bank on the UTSA alumnus. His $13 million contract sounds like a large deal — probably because $13 million is a lot to the layperson — but in NFL-speak, that salary isn’t back-breaking for a starting outside linebacker.

Thankfully for Davenport’s sake, he can show up to the regular season and dispel any doubts about his toolkit. He’ll wear the No. 0 in 2023, a symbol of “starting from zero,” per his words, as a Viking.

Kenyon also nominated Jimmy Garoppolo (Raiders), JuJu Smith-Schuster (Patriots), Andre Dillard (Titans), and Nicholas Morrow (Eagles) for 2023 bust duty.

Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sal Spice. His Vikings obsession dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ Basset Hounds, and The Doors (the band).

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