2. Ashtyn Davis, S, NY Jets
Few players on the Jets roster were more improved in 2023 than Ashtyn Davis. The former third-round pick had been toiling away on special teams for the majority of the last few seasons, fighting to stay on the roster every summer.
Davis had been written off as another mid-round Jets draft bust. He was a core special-teamer, sure, but the hopes of him one day developing into a genuine defensive contributor seemed to be in the past.
But Davis proved that narrative wrong this past season. The Cal product maximized his snaps and took over as the full-time third safety by the midway point in the season. He essentially assumed the role the Jets envisioned for Adrian Amos.
Davis finished the season with three interceptions and three fumble recoveries despite only playing 19 percent of the Jets' defensive snaps. There's a strong argument to suggest he should've been given more playing time as well.
Jordan Whitehead struggled mightily in 2023, leading all NFL safeties in both missed tackles and touchdowns allowed. When Davis stepped in for Whitehead following his injury in Week 18, we saw a glimpse of what could've been.
Davis was the only safety in the NFL to receive a PFF coverage, run defense, and tackling grade of 75.0 or higher in Week 18. He allowed zero catches on three targets while playing a season-high 49 snaps. He also added a run stop, two pass breakups, an interception, and zero missed tackles.
It was arguably the best game played by a Jets safety all year. The Jets should've given Davis an opportunity to start earlier in the season, and they'd be wise to bring him back in 2024.