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Film analysis: Can Julién Davenport make the Giants’ 53-man roster?

Houston Texans v Indianapolis Colts Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

The New York Giants are reportedly offensive tackle Julién Davenport to their roster. The 2017 fourth-round selection out of Bucknell by the Houston Texans has 2,117 career snaps, with 1,623 at left tackle; his remaining snaps were at right tackle.

Davenport played two seasons with the Texans before he was traded to the Miami Dolphins in the blockbuster deal that netted the Texans Laremy Tunsil. Davenport spent two seasons in South Beach; he suffered a cracked fibula and a hyperextended knee in his first season with the Dolphins, which forced him to miss ten weeks.

Miami drafted USC offensive tackle Austin Jackson in 2020, and Davenport hardly played that season. He signed with the Indianapolis Colts for the 2021 season and played 278 snaps in front of Carson Wentz. 2021 was the last time Davenport saw regular season action.

The Chicago Bears released Davenport at final cuts last season, and the Arizona Cardinals stashed him on the practice squad before releasing him in June. For what it’s worth, Giants wide receiver coach Mike Groh was on Indianapolis’ staff when Davenport was a member of the Colts, where Davenport played next to Mark Glowinski.

I’ll start with this; there’s a reason why Julién Davenport was available in mid-August. We’ll get into that shortly, but there’s certainly one thing about Davenport that offensive line coaches love - length.

Davenport’s 98th percentile arm length, with 6-foot-7 height, is longer than star tackle Andrew Thomas. His long arms aren’t conducive to the bench press drill, but there are flashes of NFL caliber strength on tape, specifically when he’s down blocking or in COMBO situations.

Run blocking

We’ll start with a familiar face in Glowinski (64) and Davenport (73) on the right side of the screen:

[right side of screen]

On this fourth-and-1 situation, Davenport aligned over the defensive bubble. The Titans have a 2i-shade and a 6-technique toward Davenport’s side. Glowinski did a great job positioning himself against the 2i-shade, and Davenport displayed his power by finishing the COMBO block against Jeffrey Simmons (98). When Davenport gains momentum on these types of down blocks, he generates quality force through the target.

[right side of screen]

The nose released toward Glowinski after the center contacted him; Glowinski engaged, and Davenport ran through the defensive linemen’s outside hip to create an inside cut-back lane on the WR pitch misdirection. Simmons 4i-shade - was the unblocked defender to the play side. The Colts wanted him to step to the inside more, effectively running himself out of the play, but that did not happen. These are some of the easier blocks a tackle can make, but Davenport made them look impressive.

[right side of screen]

Davenport took advantage of the free release up to the linebacker on the shotgun power/gap running concept. It’s a good angle, but Davenport basically hugged the defender, which is a problem throughout his tape.

[left side of screen]

Glowinski executed a great block against Christian Wilkins (94). His hands are tight, fit well inside, and his center of gravity remained low as he maintained positive contact on the talented defensive lineman. Davenport went to contact the near hip, but Glowinski used Wilkins’ momentum against him to force him away from the rushing lane. Davenport then stayed tight to Wilkins’ backside and located the MIKE, which allowed Marlon Mack (25) to pick up a few extra yards.

[left side of screen]

Davenport scooped Zach Allen (94) on the backside of this stretch zone run. The tackle used his outside arm to contact Allen while keeping his feet moving; upon a second effort, after forcing Allen to concede some ground, Davenport drove the young defensive linemen into the ground, albeit Allen made the rushing lane more narrow. Still, it was pleasant to see Davenport maintain control of his block while driving Allen off the line of scrimmage.

[left side of screen]

Here’s a double-Y 12 personnel look with Davenport on the backside. The tackle showed similar power on the inside zone rush by burying the 4i-shade as the left tackle.

[left side of screen]

Davenport did a great job torquing his body on the split-zone run after Quenton Nelson (56) contacted the 4-technique. Nelson helped, but Davenport displayed good flexibility and functional core strength to remove current Giants’ IDL A’Shawn Robinson (94) from the play. That’s an excellent finish to the COMBO block by Davenport.

[left side of screen]

Another exceptional COMBO block on this play, only this time with tight end Mo Alie-Cox (81). Davenport does well to position himself in front of the outside linebacker to allow Alie-Cox to climb and locate his second responsibility. Good positioning and solid hand usage to engage and hinge the defender away from the rushing Jonathan Taylor (28)

Pass protection

Davenport led the NFL in pressures allowed in 2018 when he was blocking for quarterback DeShaun Watson. He had 68 pressures allowed that season, 12 sacks, and committed 16 penalties. Since then, Davenport has only 590 pass-blocking snaps; some of that can be attributed to injuries, but pass protection isn’t Davenport’s strongest trait.

[left side of screen]

[right side of screen]

[left side of screen]

[left side of screen]

[left side of screen]

[right side of screen]
(preseason 2022)

These are some of his worst plays in pass protection, but the consistency play-to-play was a problem. Davenport is strong; he’s not easily moved off his spot, nor is his anchor a vulnerability that’s typically exploited. However, he can’t consistently protect his edges or fight off secondary pass-rushing moves. Block framing, depth of set control, and hand targeting are points of concern.

Final thoughts

To be candid, the run-blocking reps are some of the better plays I saw from Davenport. His use of hands, footwork, and pad level are all issues that cropped up throughout his tape, although he has much better footwork as a run blocker than he showed as a pass protector. He used his massive frame and length effectively when he was tasked to block down the line of scrimmage on a variety of concepts. Unfortunately for Davenport, there’s much more to run blocking than that specific advantageous angle, and his issues with run blocking stem from establishing and maintaining contact in base one-on-one situations.

Pass protection consistency is a problem. Davenport has incredible length, and there are plays where he dictates contact, which kept rushers at bay. His feet are an issue. He’s not always where he needs to be from a positioning standpoint, and this forced his already problematic balance to be exploited.

Similar to Matt Peart, Davenport struggles to protect his outside shoulder. I don’t think it’s completely due to a lack of foot quickness, but rather the inability to effectively judge where the defender is going, what his intentions might be, and how to optimally slow the defender down with his punch.

Tackles need to rely on precise footwork to succeed. If the feet aren’t where they’re supposed to be, then the hips are affected, and the framing of the block is wrong, which leads to all sorts of issues in terms of the upper body. Davenport’s hand-fighting is marginal, and that’s coupled with questionable footwork, which is one reason why he’s surrendered 126 pressures, 23 sacks, with 22 penalties through his career.

As we saw on Friday, the Giants’ depth behind the top three tackles is scarce. I would say Davenport is just a camp body, and ultimately that may be what he is, but there’s a world where the last tackle position goes to one of Matt Peart, Korey Cunningham, or Wyatt Davis since we’re not certain about Tyre Phillips’ health and Devery Hamilton was just waived.

The Giants may have looked at the tackle position on Friday and thought they must add another body due to play, but it’s obviously also a response to the injured departure of Hamilton.

They perhaps don’t want to play Cunningham the most snaps of any other offensive player as they did against the Detroit Lions. New York may not play Evan Neal, Andrew Thomas, or Tyre Phillips this preseason - we’re not certain yet - and they believed another snap-eater was necessary. That’s plausible.

Still, Davenport’s chances of making the team aren’t high, even though the Giants’ depth at tackle caused concern on Friday. There were struggles throughout Davenport’s tape, but there are also some redeemable qualities. He’ll have his chance to showcase those qualities over the next couple of weeks.