Explosiveness: Stride length is a big boon here. As a stand-up outside rusher, regularly challenges tackles set off the jump with his first three steps and can generate an outside rush angle accordingly. When his hand's in the dirt as an interior rusher (4i-tech or closer) he tends to pop up out of his stance and lose the efficacy of his first step. Guilty of leaning into the snap at times to generate upfield push and will lose balance.
Short-Area Quickness: Manufactures strong change of direction ability with a super wide base and strong lower half. Can turn tight corners accordingly, though often loses his balance or rushes with too extreme of an angle to keep himself upright after diving for the quarterback. If he doesn't get his feet right, does not have much lateral agility or quickness to adjust to runners and can get exposed as an EMLOS defender.
Pass Rush Technique: Hands are active and effective in short areas, which is a big deal for his ceiling. Cross chop/club game is really strong and allows him to get to the outside shoulder as both an interior and outside rusher; able to work hands in harmony with his hips to clear the rush angle and force the QB off of his set point. Must continue to develop a secondary rush off initial hand usage to work inside counters given how frequently he gets pushed beyond the set point. Would also like to see greater work of the bull rush/push-pull sequence given his power.
Bend: Not where he wins. Ankle flexibility is enough such that he can turn angles with tilt when he's fighting pressure with pressure up the outside arc, but he'll get folded over with power and finished beyond the peak of the pocket. Hips are stiff and he has no ability to reduce his surface area when working to a shoulder and won't win if he doesn't break hands proactively.
Block Deconstruction: Good basic profile with room to improve. Locates hands well off of the snap and will work quickly to win his gap when stunting or slanting. Hand location is again good as a two-gap player, but there are times where he loses to length and fails to disengage in time to impact the path of his opponent. Anchor power is great in head-up situations and he creates log jams in gaps by controlling opponent and creating space for linebackers to work. Dissatisfying reps as a double-teamed interior defensive linemen help foreshadow full-time return to the outside.
Lower-Body Power: Big and long legs increase his range of influence without sacrificing stopping power. Does well to get underneath his opponent initially at the snap and re-set the line of scrimmage. Works from a wide base and can cross face of opponents while keeping control of his opponent and keeping him uprooted. Presence of lower-body power is a bit lacking as a bull-rusher, which is a disappointing and must be developed at the NFL.
Upper-Body Strength: Great mass throughout the upper-half with room to shed some bad weight and continue to develop. Does not get to lock out as much as you'd like to see as a two-gapper, but clearly has the power to do so, and has the occasional stack and shed to control gaps. Hand strikes are violent and effective and even when they aren't perfectly timed or located, there's enough power to prevent opponent from resetting.
Mental Processing: Only an average player here. Does not seem to have good instincts for pressure coming from other angles and can get kicked out on traps or washed on down blocks accordingly. Sniffs out screens with solid instincts but doesn't take great angles as a re-tracer or pursuit defender. Wish he demonstrated an awareness of QBs climbing on his rushes so he could work an inside counter game
Motor: Doesn't have special hustle but doesn't necessarily take reps off. Willing to chase down screens from behind or attack boundary runs in the event of a cutback but doesn't have good speed or a "look for work" mentality as a pass-rusher.
Round Grade: Incomplete
Best Trait: Upper-Body Strength
Worst Trait: Short-Area Quickness
NFL Comparison: Matt Judon (but before he got wild good in his contract year)
Summary: Marlon Davidson is a scheme-specific Day 2 candidate for teams looking for a big SDE with an intriguing blend of skills. Davidson has great length throughout his frame but is not lacking for mass, which allows him to win the point of attack and squeeze boundary runs to the inside. Davidson presents a better outside pass-rush ability than you'd expect for a player of his weight: he throws his hands well to soften rush angles and has a wide base to rush with tilt and close on the quarterback. Davidson won't be attractive for teams with wide ends who 1-gap exclusively, but should find a home in the Top-100 picks for a team that needs his skill set.