Ashtyn Davis Set for ‘Utility Role’ in 2021 Jets Defense

Ashtyn Davis Jets

Getty New York Jets safety Ashtyn Davis walking out of the tunnel onto the football field.

It was an overall disappointing season for Ashtyn Davis in 2020.

The former third-rounder out of California initially raised eyebrows when he was selected in the NFL draft by the New York Jets. At that time, the Jets still had former All-Pro Jamal Adams and Marcus Maye on the roster.

Little did we know Adams would eventually be shipped off in a blockbuster deal a few months later to the Seattle Seahawks.

That seemingly opened the door for Davis to seize his full potential, but it just never came to fruition.

He played in 10 games, but only started in six of them. The statistical results were completely underwhelming especially considering his lofty draft status (68th overall pick in 2020):

  • One pass deflection.
  • 36 combined tackles (25 of those solo).
  • Finished the season with zeroes in several big categories: interceptions, sacks, and big-time plays.

Part of the reason he didn’t play in every game was due to injury. Davis suffered a foot injury late in the season that eventually landed him on injured reserve.

New Coach, New Mentality

Out with the old, in with the new.

Last year the Jets started with Gregg Williams as their defensive coordinator and they ended with interim Frank Bush. The majority of the staff was cleaned out this offseason and now a fresh new mentality has arrived on 1 Jets Drive.

Head coach Robert Saleh will be the CEO-type leader that’ll oversee the entire operation. While Jeff Ulbrich, formerly of the Atlanta Falcons, will call the defensive plays in 2021 for Gang Green.

What kind of role can we anticipate for the former day-two pick?

“I like his athleticism. I like his versatility,” NFL analyst Connor Rogers discussing second-year safety Ashtyn Davis on the Badlands feed. “Something I’ve been thinking about is: do they use Ashtyn’s versatility to the team’s advantage of needs this year? What I mean by that is in college he played slot corner, in the box, played single high, free safety, strong safety, two high, and he was a tremendous special teams player in every aspect. Davis can be a utility player for the Jets in 2021.”

Marcus Maye has one of the starting safety spots locked down. He already signed his franchise tag tender but is hoping to strike a long-term deal with the Jets ahead of the July 15 deadline.

The other spot in the defensive backfield is up for grabs:

Dunn is an undrafted free agent pickup and Jackson is an inexperienced journeyman who has bounced around. Joyner is the lone proven veteran that has some real battle scars from his time around the league.

A Versatile Athletic Chess Piece

2020 was disappointing for Davis, but things are looking up in 2021.

With a new regime, comes a new opportunity to impress. The former Cal stud is an athletic piece of clay that is just waiting to be molded.

Davis is a latecomer to football. He was a track star that walked onto the football program at Cal. The former third-rounder earned his stripes the right way from the bottom.

After becoming a special teams MVP in 2016 and earning minimal playing time as a cornerback Davis kept progressing. The following year he brought home the special teams hardware again then started flirting around as a return ace and at safety.

The Jets got lucky that Davis got injured at the end of his college run. That ended up hindering his ability to provide that athletic wow factor at the Senior Bowl and the NFL Combine. If he would’ve gotten the chance to run around in a shirt and shorts, he would’ve likely gone a lot higher than he did in the 2020 NFL draft.

He’s still a bit raw from a football experience perspective, but he has proven to be a fast learner. This is exactly the chess piece Gang Green is going to need in 2021. When injuries inevitably arrive, Davis can move where needed.