BERKELEY, CA - NOVEMBER 24: Ashtyn Davis #27 of the California Golden Bears returns an interception for a touchdown against the Colorado Buffaloes at California Memorial Stadium on November 24, 2018 in Berkeley, California.
(Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

Taking a look at Cal-Berkeley safety Ashtyn Davis, who the New York Giants may target during the second day of the upcoming draft.

Ryan Honey

At the two safety spots heading into 2020, the New York Giants employ Julian Love and Jabrill Peppers, and there’s a slim chance the former won’t even be performing in that position. The team possesses a number of backups for those two spots, but none are overly reliable.

The Giants may look into drafting a safety as early as the third round because of this. If they were to take someone, that specific individual could be the top reserve or potentially start if the Giants decide to play Love at nickel corner.

With that said, a potential target for Big Blue might be Cal Berkeley’s Ashtyn Davis, who’s one of the more talented safeties in this draft class.

The basics

At 6-foot-1, 202 pounds, Davis possesses 30.5-inch arms and 9.375-inch hands. In comparison to Love and Peppers, he has great size for a safety. At the NFL Scouting Combine last year, Love registered at 5-foot-11, 195 pounds with 31.75-inch arms and 9-inch hands. Peppers, on the other hand, registered at 5-foot-11, 213 pounds with 30.75-inch arms and 9.625-inch hands at the 2017 combine.

There’s no sugar-coating it whatsoever, Davis is a sensational athlete. The 23-year-old also ran track and field at Cal. He actually walked on to the track team and tried out for football in the spring of his freshman year.

He won the Pac-12 110-meter hurdle title and also earned second-team All-American honors as a senior. His success in the 60-meter hurdles additionally earned him NCAA Indoor All-American honors.

When it comes to football, Davis was a second-team All-Pac-12 selection this past year. During the 2018 campaign, he was selected to the Associated Press All-Pac 12 first team.

This past season, Ashtyn racked up 55 total tackles (32 solo) with two interceptions, four passes defended, and one forced fumble in 11 games. During his entire collegiate career (45 games), he also spent time as a return specialist, having returned 70 total kicks for 1,604 yards (22.9 yards per return).

Film room notes

The above victories are both from September 2019 (his redshirt senior season). The first is against the University of Washington while the latter is when the Golden Bears faced Ole Miss.

This time around, I’ll begin with the positives before I discuss the negatives — there are definitely aspects of his game present in either category.

Davis (No. 27) usually starts deep but is quick and aggressive enough to come up and make contact with the ball carrier. Regardless of where he is on the field, Ashtyn is always looking to stop the run. This element of toughness would sit well with newly hired Giants head coach Joe Judge.

The speed is what really shines. Needless to say, Davis uses his track background to his advantage. He’s able to quickly meet the ball carrier and also chase guys down in the open field.

As for making contact with the opponent, Davis portrays proper fundamentals. He has the ability to wrap up and drive his feet, which would be nothing but beneficial at the next level. It’s another thing that would attract Judge, who preaches the art of on-field fundamentals.

Davis additionally does a fine job disguising his assignment pre-snap. He’s able to line up on a slot receiver or even position himself in the box before swiftly dropping back into coverage.

But let’s converse over the negatives, since there are multiple.

I’m not a significant fan of his stance when backpedaling in coverage. Davis doesn’t have a low, in-control base at times, and seems to be on his heels. Receivers at the next level would take advantage of something like that in no time.

He doesn’t take great angles when pursuing the ball carrier either. This really stood out in the Washington matchup when he took a bad angle on a Husky touchdown run in the second quarter.

Davis did this once again on a Washington receiver later in the game. The play resulted in a catch-and-run for a first down on a 3rd-&-17.

Don’t get me wrong, when he makes legitimate contact with the running back or receiver, he’s great. But the breakdown comes before the hit, and Davis will certainly need to improve his footwork once he enters the pros.

There were also a few not-so-great plays in the Ole Miss matchup. In this first video, he didn’t show fantastic strength on a 1st-&-goal touchdown run for the Rebels, as the tight end easily sealed him.

During the second play, he actually forced an incompletion, but may have gotten away with a hold on the slot receiver.

Overall, Davis does display great qualities in his game, but there are a number of things he must improve on once he enters the NFL. He’d be a better option than plenty of other safeties in this draft. Nonetheless, the negatives may outweigh the positives, which could make him a risk of a selection in the long run.

How would Davis fit into the Giants roster?

As was mentioned before, the Giants will likely start Love and Peppers at the free and strong safety spots, respectively. If that’s the case, then Davis would be in a reserve role and could also find time on special teams, potentially at return specialist.

He’d likely be the first backup at the free safety spot though, which means he would possibly be on the field in prevent-defense situations.

But there’s also a chance the Giants put Love at the slot corner spot, especially if Corey Ballentine and Grant Haley struggle as the year progresses. Don’t forget, Love was a cornerback at Notre Dame.

If the team ended up making that switch, Davis would possibly find himself in the starting defensive backfield alongside Peppers.

Considering the fact that Davis is more of a deep safety, he’d be a decent complement to Jabrill, who sees more success near the line of scrimmage.

If general manager Dave Gettleman takes a shot and selects Davis, there would be a number of ways he could see the field, but also a number of wrinkles he’d need to iron. Time will only tell if he’ll be in blue.

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