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Marlon Davidson turns heads at Senior Bowl practices

The Auburn contingent for the 2020 Senior Bowl has shrunk, then grown, then shrunk again.

Left tackle Prince Tega Wanogho and defensive lineman Marlon Davidson were the two Tigers set to represent the orange and blue in Mobile before Wanogho was "pulled" from practices and participation due to a persisting knee injury.

Then, former Auburn cornerback Javaris Davis was called up to the roster. He was supposed to play in last week's East-West Shrine Bowl — another college all-star game of sorts — but had not yet been cleared from a concussion suffered Jan. 1 against Minnesota in Auburn's bowl game.

Davis will be on the North squad because of an injury need on that roster — and he may be the only Auburn player available for the action Saturday.

Marlon Davidson (7) during Senior Bowl practice on Tuesday.
Marlon Davidson (7) during Senior Bowl practice on Tuesday. (Todd Van Emst / Auburn Athletics)

Davidson is in a walking boot due to an ankle sprain and is done for the rest of the week, but the former defensive end made sure to turn some heads before the injury forced him to sit out.

He weighed in at 297 pounds — up 15 pounds from his listing on Auburn's roster from the 2019 season. Coaches moved him inside occasionally as a possible inside-technique player, as opposed to his defensive end slot with the Tigers. He succeeded at both spots, however, in Mobile.

The Draft Network's Jonah Tuls went as far as to label Davidson his best player on the defensive side of the ball for the South team after Day 1.

"Many will label Marlon Davidson as a tweener of sorts, but his value stems from that kind of position flexibility," Tuls said. "At 6-foot-3, 297 pounds with 33-inch arms, Davidson can play 3 technique and shoot the gap as an interior pass rusher and can play 5 technique as a two-gap run defender. He has also shown flashes from the outside as a 4-3 defensive end. His quickness in the one-on-one drills Tuesday was too much to handle for the South offensive line, whether he was aligned inside or outside. He has a lot more juice and burst to his game than I initially gave him credit for, and the power and explosion in his lower half is noticeable each time at the point of attack.

"Davidson told me after practice that most scouts want to see him move inside as a one-gap penetrating pass rusher at the next level, and after weighing in at nearly 300 pounds Tuesday morning, the vision of him becoming one of this draft’s top 3 techniques will soon become a reality."

NFL scouts and reporters, such as the Giants' John Schmeelk, took notice of Davidson's blend of strength and finesse, as well: "Marlon Davidson of Auburn, flashed inside pass rush. At 6'3 and 297 pounds he was dominant in one on one drills, and showed great burst at the snap with the quickness and power to beat interior lineman. He also got at least one rep at defensive end. He showed a variety of different pass rush moves and looked like the best player on field."

Not every review is an A+, however. Pro Football Network wrote, "Davidson was solid all day, but didn’t necessarily flash to impress. Something I was hoping he would. Some are saying that his stock is starting move towards the round one range, but I still believe he’s a Day 2 pick."

Obviously, Davidson could have shown more if he hadn't rolled his ankle, but most believe he did enough in a few short hours of action to improve his stock. NFL Network reporter Mike Garafolo said, "Marlon Davidson, the defensive lineman from Auburn, dominated yesterday. And in a lot of people's minds, he's the best player here, period. ... He made quite the statement in one day — a potential late-first-round pick.

Davidson is currently the top-rated 3-4 defensive end on Walter Football's 2020 board.

The 2020 NFL draft will begin April 23 in Paradise, Nevada.

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