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Marlon Davidson was destined for greatness when ‘they pulled me out of the womb’

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Marlon Davidson woke up at 4 a.m. on Friday in a bad mood. He didn’t get much sleep following the end of the first round of the NFL Draft, and when his eyes opened in the early hours of the ensuing morning, they couldn’t shut again.

Davidson is confident in who he is as a player. Therefore, he felt he should have been a first-rounder. But after 32 selections Thursday, Davidson was still waiting to hear his name. That didn’t sit too well with him. As a hulking defensive lineman who started all four years at Auburn, Davidson feels he is the best player at his position in this year’s draft class. Being snubbed in the first round wasn’t sitting well with him in the pre-dawn hours of Friday morning. Midway through the second round, the Falcons finally selected him.

“I woke up at 4 o’clock this morning because I was mad I didn’t go in the first round,” Davidson said. “Waking up at 4 o’clock, I haven’t been asleep all day. I’ve been waiting on this call, I got it, and now I’m going to give everything I can to this organization. I’m going to give everything I possibly can in my bones to leave everything on the field, every game, to show they did not mess up by picking up Marlon Davidson.”

Davidson’s wait didn’t last too long on Day 2 of the draft. The Falcons took him with the 47th overall selection in the second round. Atlanta entered this year’s draft with needs in both the secondary and along the defensive line. After taking Clemson cornerback A.J. Terrell in the first round Thursday, the Falcons addressed the interior defensive line in the second round.

And the player the franchise is getting has been a big believer in his abilities since the day he arrived on earth almost 22 years ago.

“They pulled me out of the womb, and I knew I was destined for greatness,” Davidson said. “I’m 100 percent Marlon Davidson. I’m the best. I’m going to continue to be the best. Whenever you see Marlon Davidson come up in the spot, just know he’s one of those kind of guys. I’m coming in to wreak havoc.”

Davidson, like his former Auburn teammate Derrick Brown, had a chance to leave college early and head to the NFL after his junior season. But Davidson, just like Brown, decided to return for his senior season. Davidson felt he didn’t do enough as a junior to put himself in as great of a position as he could have been for the draft. As a senior, he had the best season of his collegiate career. As a big defensive end, Davidson tallied 49 total tackles and 7.5 sacks. At 6-foot-3 and 303 pounds, Davidson has the size to play both inside and on the edge in varying situations.

Davidson said if Atlanta asks him to shed some weight and play defensive end at 280 or 285 pounds, he’ll do it. If the Falcons want him to be a three-technique, he’ll be fine with that, as well.

During a 17-minute conference call following his selection, Davidson expressed nothing but pure joy about playing for the Falcons. He revealed that he plays “Madden” primarily with the Falcons. Asked if he’s looking forward to playing next to Grady Jarrett, he became excited as he reeled off the players he had familiarized himself with from the popular video game series.

“I play with Julio Jones, Matt Ryan. I play with these guys. I know this team,” Davidson said. “Deion Jones, Grady Jarrett. Being small in comparison to everyone else but being this great player, he’s showing everyone he’s great. I watch this every day playing the game. Of course, I want to play next to Grady Jarrett.”

While Davidson has scheme versatility, head coach Dan Quinn said the plan at the outset will be to play him as a defensive tackle. Specifically, Quinn said he is looking for Davidson to play a role as a third-down nickel defensive tackle who can create a pass rush up the middle. He also could see some reps in the base package as a defensive end.

“He’s been a defensive end, he’s been stand-up, he’s been down,” Quinn said. “We’re going to try to feature him at the defensive tackle spot over the guard. But having a guy with that much versatility, you can imagine we’re going to partner him up as often as we can. His intensity, his physicality, that all shines through.”

A shot of Hennessy 

Prior to the draft, it was believed a run on interior linemen could emerge in the second round. As the round unfolded, only Louisiana guard Robert Hunt was selected in that block of 32 picks.

With Atlanta taking a defensive lineman in the second round, the team was able to turn its attention to the offensive line in the third round. Needing a long-term center who can play guard in the short term, the Falcons took Temple’s Matt Hennessy with the 78th overall pick.

Hennessy was solely a center with the Owls. A right tackle in high school, he moved to center when he got to Temple for the first day of practice.

With Alex Mack entering the final year of his contract, Hennessy has a chance to be Atlanta’s long-term center. In 2020, however, he will compete for what is an open left guard position. Leading up to the draft, Hennessy said it was important to show teams he can play both guard and center. He was able to showcase some reps at guard during the week of the Senior Bowl in late January.

“That’s one thing that I’ve really focused on improving throughout this draft process,” Hennessy said. “At Temple, I really just played center because that’s where I was placed, and year to year we felt that put us in the best position to succeed. Going forward, I’m looking forward to playing all three interior spots.”

Quinn said Hennessy will start out at left guard and went as far as to say that Hennessy has the potential to eventually win the job. Both Quinn and general manager Thomas Dimitroff lauded Hennessy’s toughness and intelligence as a football player.

“With his versatility, athleticism and his full package deal, we were really focused on him being the one we thought we were going to have an opportunity to get,” Dimitroff said. “We, and a lot of people, had him ranked in that second-round area. To feel like we were able to pull him off the board in the third round was fortunate for us.”



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