The San Francisco 49ers have Joe Staley and Trent Brown potentially settled in at their two tackle positions, but depth remains an issue. Zane Beadles is the swing tackle along with starting left guard for the time being, but the team will be looking for some talent in the draft later next month. And one name on their radar is Bucknell offensive tackle Julién Davenport.
The 49ers met with Davenport at the Senior Bowl, but then took things a step further with a private workout earlier this month. Davenport has had a busy month, holding workouts with at least 11 teams.
It makes sense that teams would want to work him out and talk football with him. He stands 6’7, weighs 318 pounds, and his arms measured in at an impressive 36 1/2” at the NFL Combine. At the same time, Davenport spent his career at Bucknell, an FCS school in the Patriot League. He spent his career there playing left tackle, dominating the competition. The biggest question for him is how he can make what is a sizable jump in competition. Davenport is all but certain to be drafted in April, and he will be the first Bucknell player drafted since 1969.
I had a chance to speak with him recently, and asked him what he can say and do to convince teams he can make the jump from FCS to the NFL.
“In this process, teams can see me playing better competition at the Senior Bowl; See me do well there, and I think a little bit of that gets answered. Most people know that I’m nowhere near my potential right now, just coming from the school that I come from. They didn’t really have a great strength program, at least compared to bigger schools. We didn’t have training table, so nutrition was kind of iffy for athletes at my school, as well. Just going through all of this, being on the team, and getting that strength and conditioning down, and the nutrition that comes along with it, my body will make strides. And I’m sure I’ll make strides as well, and just continue to progress as a player.”
Moving from FCS to the NFL is a jump in competition, but also means a significant jump in the resources at your disposal. Davenport is far from the first player that will see a huge improvement in strength and conditioning and nutrition opportunities. It happens for many FBS players, so of course it will be there for FCS players.
Davenport played left tackle his entire career at Bucknell. He said he got a chance to play right tackle for one day of practice at the Senior Bowl. He sees himself as an NFL-caliber left tackle, but he also recognizes the need to be able to play both positions. He thinks it is a transition he could make if needed, and it is a matter of game reps to get more comfortable with his technique and skillset.
“I feel like I am athletic enough to play both positions, being able to move around in space, just switching up the footwork, it’s still the same deal in assignment. For some it may be a little different, but you just have to get comfortable doing it. That’s just one thing, I haven’t had game reps playing at right tackle, but I feel comfortable with my footwork and all, and repetition will make that better.”
He had a pretty simple workout with the 49ers, but felt it went well. The team wanted to see how he moved, and also how he could operate in their blocking scheme. We have not heard details from the 49ers or outside reports on the workout, but it sounds like he also had a strong workout with the Patriots, according to Patriots writer Mike Loyko.
I'm told Davenport impressed, Scarnecchia with his intelligence, especially his work on the white board and tape breakdown— Mike Loyko (@NEPD_Loyko) March 28, 2017
There is a good chance #Patriots draft a developmental OT prospect on the third day, so the Davenport workout is interesting.— Mike Loyko (@NEPD_Loyko) March 28, 2017
Given the lack of OT depth and prospects in the draft, there is a decent chance for Julien Davenport to go on Day 2 of the draft. #Bucknell— Mike Loyko (@NEPD_Loyko) March 28, 2017
The 49ers have to add some significant depth along the line, and with Joe Staley potentially nearing the end of his career, Davenport could make a lot of sense. He knows he has a lot of developing to do, and the 49ers could provide a spot for him to slowly work his way into things.