The NY Jets made their first pick of Round 3, their second of Day 2, of the 2020 NFL Draft with the selection of Cal defensive back Ashtyn Davis
Note the position designation.
Davis played free safety at Cal starting for the past three seasons but he was initially recruited to play cornerback. And despite being labeled as a safety by pretty much all media outlets, Davis was announced as a defensive back when drafted.
That shouldn’t be overlooked.
Nonetheless, this likely isn’t the player who many Jets fans had in mind. Still, there is reason to believe that a versatile defensive back like Davis could be an excellent chess piece for Gregg Williams’ defense.
The 23-year-old is rangy and athletic using his excellent speed to cover ground all over the gridiron. And at 6-foot-1, 202 pounds, he has excellent size which could serve him well if he moved to cornerback full-time.
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Despite playing primarily free safety in college, Davis is also a strong tackler who isn’t short on physicality. He has no problem laying the hit stick on a ball-carrier or coming down to help in run support.
It’s that very reason that Cal used him a lot in a nickel role covering opposing slot receivers. General manager Joe Douglas has preached versatility on both sides of the ball and Davis brings just that.
However, it’s certainly fair to question the pick.
With numerous true cornerbacks still on the board and a glaring hole at the position, it seems odd to go with a player like Davis who will likely take some time to transition to cornerback if that’s even the plan at all.
On top of that, Davis is an older prospect at 23-years-old whose aggressiveness sometimes comes back to bite him — whether in run support or in pass coverage.
Those fearful that he could be a possible Jamal Adams replacement will be happy to he’sr that he’s pretty much a standard free safety with slot versatility. Not someone who will be taking over Adams’ strong safety role.
If anything, he could eventually be asked to take over for Marcus Maye who is set to be a free agent after this upcoming season.
Perhaps this is a case of the Jets planning for the future and not wanting to pay two safeties big money. Or perhaps they plan to move Davis to cornerback to fill the need there. Maybe it’s a little bit of both.
Ashtyn Davis is a versatile defender who will have an impact not only on defense, but special teams as well.
It wasn’t the pick many were expecting, but sometimes it’s the outside-the-box ideas that prove to be most effective in the long run.
Final grade: B-