Bucknell’s Davenport ready for NFL Draft

Bucknell senior Julie’n Davenport lines up during the 2017 Senior Bowl game for the North Team at Ladd-Peebles Stadium in Alabama. Davenport will be the first Bison player to be drafted since quarterback Sam Havrilak was drafted by the Baltimore Colts in the 1969 NFL Draft in the eighth round. (AP)

LEWISBURG — Standing on the track that goes around Bucknell’s football field on Friday, Bucknell senior Julie’n Davenport sometimes would stop to shake hands with a fan or even take a photo and chat with anyone who stopped by.

After his NFL Combine workout recently and practicing with various teams, Davenport is the talk of the town. It’s a guessing game as to exactly what round he’ll be selected or what team he’ll get drafted by, but one thing is all but for sure: Davenport is NFL-bound.

The towering 6-foot-7 left tackle from Bucknell is projected to be drafted anywhere from the second to the fourth round. It’s a huge honor for Davenport, who will become the first player from Bucknell to be drafted to the NFL since 1969.

“It’s definitely big time, big time for program. Shows program’s heading in right direction and getting better as years go on,” Davenport said prior to Bucknell’s spring game on Friday night. “Even shows team not traditionally known for football has a guy to be in position I am right now. Shows you can pretty much make it from anywhere. Definitely gives that motivation factor to all guys out there.”

When Davenport first came to Bucknell four years ago, he already had the mindset that he wanted to play in the NFL. That didn’t change at all given that he was at a smaller Division 1 school.

“When I came here I had mindset that I’m trying to achieve this dream of mine which is to play in NFL and I came here with that mindset and been working towards it ever since,” Davenport said. “Just working hard at it to make this a reality and now we’re a week away from the draft.”

Davenport said he plans on watching the NFL Draft at his home in New Jersey with a few friends, Bucknell teammates and family as he waits to get the phone call to hear where he’ll end up playing.

The left tackle had a great career during his four years with Bucknell. He was a two-year captain, a five-time All-American and was a four-time All-Patriot League selection, which includes three first-team honors from 2014-16.

In addition, he was a three-time preseason All-Patriot League selection.

At the NFL Combine, Davenport ran a 5.45 40-yard dash, bench pressed 18 reps, had a 27-inch verticle leap, a 106-inch broad jump and did the three-cone drill in 7.57 seconds.

“It’s a real good experience,” Davenport said of being invited to the NFL Combine. “I was fortunate enough to be invited to combine and train and everything. I’m happy with how I performed.”

Despite how well he performed at the NFL Combine, Davenport knows there’s still negative scouting reports out there saying things such as he isn’t strong enough or he didn’t play tough enough competition at Bucknell. But Davenport said he doesn’t pay attention to any of those reports. He knows his own worth and how much of an asset he’ll add to any NFL team that drafts him.

“I don’t look at it too much. Everybody else looks at it more than me. … Everybody has critics, just the way the world is,” Davenport said.

“I have skill set to be a left tackle. Athleticness, I have the smart footing, good football IQ and have that effort where I’m always trying to get better,” Davenport added. “I’m never satisfied where I’m at and try to better myself every day.”

Davenport said that most of his workouts for NFL teams and scouts have been specific to left tackle, although some had him switch to right tackle or guard. The defending NFC Champion Atlanta Falcons worked out Davenport at guard work and some right tackle work.

But for Davenport, he sees himself as a left tackle, although he can adapt on the line to where he’s needed. Wherever that may be.

“I’m not a nerves type of guy. I’m more so just anxious I would say. Ready and waiting for it to happen,” Davenport said. “Just been patiently waiting since I’ve been back at school.”

Davenport has two classes to finish up his spring semester to graduate from Bucknell with a degree and he said he’s had teachers work with him while he trained in Atlanta for a few months before coming back around spring break.

“Everybody’s been helpful, especially since I want to graduate and come away wtih a degree,” Davenport said. “Everybody’s been real helpful in this process.”

The Paulsboro, N.J., native grew up a Pittsburgh Steelers fan and said that it’d be a childhood dream to be able to play for the Steelers, but he noted it doesn’t matter where he ends up.

“Really preferably somewhere warm, but I really don’t care, just having opportunity to play is a blessing in itself,” Davenport said. “I was a Steelers fan growing up, if I was drafted there you know that would just be childhood team and sentiment there, but wherever I am, I’d be happy.”