After two picks that elicited excitement, the New York Jets didn’t go with a conventional draft pick with their first selection of the third round. Instead, draft pick Ashtyn Davis was on no one’s radar.
At first, it didn’t seem to add up, even if the talent and upside is there. Davis played safety at Cal and the Jets, with All-Pro Jamal Adams and the very solid Marcus Maye, are loaded at the position.
As a senior at Cal, he had 57 tackles, four passes defended, two interceptions and two forced fumbles. He had a groin injury at the end of last season that caused him to miss Cal’s bowl game. Overall, a very solid player but…the fit?
Davis is fast…elite level fast. In 2018, he ran a 13.87 in the 110m hurdles. He didn’t run at the NFL Combine due to his groin injury. But he’s fast.
And there is a fit. It just means taking a step back (and away from the ledge)
The Buzz: It wasn’t quite the level of the Jets selecting Kyle Brady, but there was understandable confusion at the pick among fans and even the media. Davis was taken with the fourth pick in the third round and with a lot of talent left on the board.
There were some big names available at that juncture. Houston’s Josh Jones, projected to be a first round pick at left tackle, was still available and could have been a prospect to develop at right tackle to start next year. LSU guard Damien Lewis was there as was Wisconsin defensive end Zack Baun. Both would have fit needs for the Jets.
So general manager Joe Douglas must have loved what he saw in Davis.
The Fit: There is a fit, a strong one at that.
The Jets might have drafted the complement to their star safety Adams in the backend. Should Maye not re-sign with the team next year, Davis could potentially step in.
As noted above, Davis is fast. The kid covers a ton of ground on tape. Last year, Adams was best used as a playmaker, floating around and, in particular, rushing the quarterback (he had 6.5 sacks a year ago). Davis can cover behind Adams, letting him be multiple and aggressive. It is an intriguing idea.
He also should be an asset on special teams for obvious reasons.
The Concern: The physical tools are impressive but Davis is still raw. There’s also concern about his best position fit.
His groin injury is a bit of an issue too.
Now Davis is a player who, like most of the picks and free agent signings under Douglas so far, is on the upswing. He improved each year at Cal and seemed to be taking a big step forward at the end of last season.
The Outlook: The view from 20,000 feet is a bit different than moments after the draft selection was made. Davis was an unknown for the most part. Where he projected didn’t make sense in the moment.
If Davis is being groomed to replace Maye in 2021, then the draft pick makes a lot of sense. Douglas is a disciple of Ozzie Newsome, the long-time Baltimore Ravens general manager. Newsome was known for bringing in players in the draft, often under the radar, and letting them develop a season or two in his system.
Davis seems to fit that mold as someone who is raw but has the physical tools.
Whether it works in the long run remains to be seen. But the logic - pragmatic and forwad thinking - is clearly there.