The NY Jets selected Ashtyn Davis with one of their two third-round picks in the 2020 NFL Draft. Here are three things to know about the newest Jets defender.
On Day 2 of the 2020 NFL Draft, Joe Douglas and the NY Jets made my favorite defensive selection of the draft. The team took Cal defensive back Ashtyn Davis with their first of two round 3 selections.
Justifiably, the pick took some fans by surprise. The team has an All-Pro safety in Jamal Adams and a young stud in Marcus Maye under contract. So why take a defensive back who played the majority of his college snaps at safety?
There are a few reasons for doing so, and I’ll get into them more in-depth as this article continues.
For starters, it’s never bad to have depth. We’ve seen our share of backups have to start games due to injury for the team. Whether it be Darryl Roberts, Nate Hairston, or Buster Skrine, the Jets have shown that having depth, whether it be good or bad, is a good thing.
Despite all the good reasons for having depth, especially in the secondary, I don’t see Ashtyn Davis as strictly a depth pick, and I doubt the Jets do either.
Davis played in 45 games throughout his four-year tenure at the University of California, playing almost everywhere on the defensive side of the ball.
He may not be a day one starter in the NFL, but with some grooming, Davis could be a mainstay in the Jets secondary. You may also be wondering what there is to love about him. Here are three things to know about the newest member of the Jets defense, Ashtyn Davis.
Next: 1. Versatility
1. Ashtyn Davis’ Versatility
We hear the term “versatility” time and time again in the NFL. Most of the time, it’s a player’s ability to play multiple positions, usually seen on the defensive side of the ball.
Take Jamal Adams for example. He’s played his natural safety position, nickel cornerback, linebacker, and has come off the edge, all in a given game. He, along with Davis, is the epitome of versatile.
As I said, Davis played 45 games at Cal in four seasons, however, he didn’t get real starting time until his sophomore year. From 2017 on, he split time at cornerback and safety each game.
Davis being able to play the free safety position and both outside cornerback positions had to have been something the Jets, including defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, loved.
Being able to play multiple defensive positions isn’t easy, and players who can do it at an above-average level are hard to come by. You don’t pass up the opportunity to bring a player on who can provide depth and starting experience at both defensive back positions.
You may also be wondering where he fits on this Jets defense. As stated, they have the safety position locked up right now, and it’s hard to envision Davis surpassing Blessaun Austin, Pierre Desir, or even newly drafted Bryce Hall for a spot at cornerback.
He would most likely see time in 2020 with the inevitable injury or bad stretch by a player, but where does he fit long term? If I’m being completely honest, I think Davis is Marcus Maye’s replacement.
I don’t mean for this season, but if the Jets choose they want to extend Jamal Adams, that’s going to be big money tied to the strong safety position.
Does Joe Douglas want to give a long term contract to both safeties? I’d argue he doesn’t, and that’s where we could see Ashtyn Davis come into play. Again, it’s just a guess, but it wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest.
There’s one more spot that Davis can provide value at for the Jets. In the return game.
Davis was a regular return man for Cal in his four years there. He averaged 22.1 yards per return in the 45 games he played. A defensive back being able to return the ball, and do it well, is a special teams coordinators dream. It also helps that he can turn on the burners when he needs to.
Next: 2. Speed
2. Ashtyn Davis’ Speed
I talked a little bit about how Davis can help the Jets in the return game, an area they’ve lacked talent at for a while, excluding Andre Roberts 2018 season. Him being extremely fast for a defensive back helps with that.
Davis didn’t participate in the 40-yard dash at the annual NFL combine, so there’s no official 40 time for him, however, he ran a 4.28 40-yard dash at his pro day (per draftscout.com).
NFL analyst Lance Zierlein called Davis’ “electric chase and recovery speed” a strength in his draft profile. There also happens to be plenty of film showcasing just how fast he is.
I love prospects that were former walk-on players. The game has a deeper meaning and their passion is incredible.
That’s what Ashtyn Davis brings to the table. Rangy, tough, and physical do it all type of safety.pic.twitter.com/cZyrbGiIjB
— Jordan Reid (@JReidNFL) December 19, 2019
His closing speed on defense is unmatched, and how quick he crosses the field is amazing. If the Jets groom Davis correctly, he can end up being a steal in the third round.
Next: 3. Motor
3. Davis’ Motor
It seems like the Jets love hard-hitting defensive backs, doesn’t it? Jamal Adams and Marcus Maye are two of the hardest hitting safeties in the NFL. Don’t let Davis’ speed and deep-ball safety play fool you — he can hit, and hit hard.
The tweet I showed in the previous slide is a perfect example of the motor Davis has. He flies to the ball from everywhere on the field. The high motor has brought some hard hits in his time at Cal.
Ashtyn Davis could hit like this AND was a track star????pic.twitter.com/WZFlxs5QWZ
— Jets Videos (@snyjets) April 25, 2020
My goodness, what a hit. The guy can flat out fly, and when it comes time to lay the wood, he doesn’t slow up. He lowers his shoulder and connects at full speed.
Having a high motor and being able to hit hard are two fantastic abilities to have as an NFL defensive back, and Davis possesses both traits.
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He’s the perfect prototype defensive back for Gregg Williams to work with and groom, and I think his motor will be a big help in him taking the next step into a starting-caliber player for the Jets.
Simply put, Ashtyn Davis was my favorite defensive pick of the 2020 draft. His traits are unbeatable in a defensive back coming out of college, and I think they translate very well to the NFL.
He may not be a starter right out of the gate, but he fits so well in Gregg Williams’ defense, and I really can’t wait to see what Williams does with him.
Davis has above average skills for a defensive back at his age, and I think that will help him a lot in growing as a player. The combination of speed/motor and his ball-playing ability is perfect for the way Williams runs the defense.
I’m beyond excited to see how Davis gets plugged into the defense, and hopefully we see him returning kicks and punts at some point this season as well.