NY Jets: Ashtyn Davis must step up in light of Marcus Maye situation

NY Jets, Ashtyn Davis
NY Jets, Ashtyn Davis / Al Bello/Getty Images

The NY Jets are counting on a number of young players to step up this season. But few are more important in light of recent circumstances than Ashtyn Davis.

The Jets failed to reach a long-term extension with star safety Marcus Maye ahead of Thursday's deadline meaning that he will play the 2021 season on the franchise tag.

And given what we know about how the negotiation process went down, it seems unlikely that the two sides reach an agreement at any point in the future.

Maye might not be long for New York for a number of reasons — reasons we don't need to rehash here. And Maye's seemingly inevitable departure provides a golden opportunity for Davis.

The NY Jets need Ashtyn Davis to step up given the Marcus Maye situation.

A third-round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, Davis assumed a starting role midway through his rookie season following an injury to veteran Bradley McDougald.

He would go on to start six games to mixed results before a foot injury ended his season prematurely. His performance when healthy was up-and-down, to say the least.

Davis finished with a 53.0 Pro Football Focus grade that ranked 80th out of 94 qualifiers. He was especially poor in coverage with an ugly PFF coverage grade of 45.1 that ranked 85th at his position.

It was a difficult first season for Davis, but there's reason to believe that he will be much more effective in his sophomore campaign.

Davis was always a player who needed time to adapt to the NFL game. One of the most physically gifted athletes in the 2020 NFL Draft, Davis was seen as more of a project who needed to refine the technical elements of his game.

We saw that last year as Davis flashed athleticism but ultimately looked out of place more often than not. He over-pursued ball-carriers, made false steps in coverage, and had trouble adapting to the speed of the NFL game.

A lot of that was to be expected. And it's certainly not uncommon either.

Think back to Jamal Adams. The sixth overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, Adams had all the tools to become an All-Pro at his position coming out of LSU, but his rookie season, while promising, only scratched the surface of what he was capable of.

Adams in 2017 was better than Davis in 2020, but the similarities are there. Adams has spoken publicly about the game slowing down for him significantly in his second season.

The Jets will be hoping the same is true for Davis.

If Maye does eventually depart, the Jets will need to institute a new plan for the safety position. If Davis flops, there is no one on the roster who appears to be a long-term solution.

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The Jets need Ashtyn Davis to prove his worth this season. If not, they could be preparing to start over in the defensive backfield in the near future.