(Editor's Note: While the start of the 2020 NFL Draft isn't until April 23, it's never too early to profile some of the key participants. The staff of DallasCowboys.com intends to preview the landscape of the draft's top prospects, with an emphasis on possible Cowboys draft picks – from the first round to the last. Today's featured player is Auburn defensive lineman Marlon Davidson.)
- Name: Marlon Davidson
- Position: DT
- College: Auburn
- Height/Weight: 6-3 / 303
- Honors: Second-team All-American, First-team All-SEC
- Key Stat: Four-year starter at defensive end that finished with 29.5 TFL and 17.0 sacks in his career (eighth most in Auburn history).
Where He's Projected:
Ultimately, the overall value of Davidson relies on where exactly teams are looking to play him.
Davidson shows versatility as an edge rusher or as an interior defensive lineman and it doesn't hurt that he has gained more than 20-pounds on his playing weight from 2019. Originally listed at 280-pounds, he has beefed up to 303 and still posted 5.04-second 40-yard-dash at the NFL Combine. Despite playing defensive end throughout his time at Auburn, the extra weight gives him the ability to move inside, which may be a better fit in the long run. Davidson didn't take a ton of snaps in the interior thanks to his teammate and consensus Top-15 pick Derrick Brown holding down the defensive tackle slot.
As a defensive end, scouts have voiced concern over his bend and burst off the line of scrimmage which is one of the reasons he could fit better inside. But his lateral agility and handwork are impressive enough on tape that he is expected to have some success against NFL competition. His true potential will obviously come after a few seasons of growth and sharpening his technique.
Starting in the second round, a team is more likely to take a chance on a player that had enough college production and physical tools to make an impact early but could develop over time. With high-upside and a bit of a development project, mid-second round to early-third round is where the Auburn product is expected to go.
How He Helps The Cowboys:
With the offseason turnover for this Cowboys defense, Mike Nolan has been very vocal on wanting to show more of a hybrid look. Davidson meets the need as either an edge rusher or interior lineman and his flexibility is something that could benefit depth as a 4-3 or 3-4 scheme. Along with the additions of Gerald McCoy, Dontari Poe, and Aldon Smith, Davidson could add more depth and the perfect high-upside potential to solidify the trio of additions. Adding these pieces are great for some veteran presence from those who have been there before. But without young talent at the position, they serve as transition pieces until the next great lineman arises in Dallas. Davidson could be that development project AND bring immediate production.
At the moment, there is a bad taste in the mouth of Cowboys' personnel with selecting a defensive lineman on day two (See 'Trysten Hill' at pick 58 overall in 2019). However, the range between round two and three is exactly where Davidson is going to be available. Pick 17 way too rich for a 'tweener' defensive lineman that lives without a true fit just yet, but 51 is right around that sweet spot. If Davidson is available at pick 51, that would be a solid selection that fits the direction of this defense.