Hard not to root for a guy like former Cal safety Ashtyn Davis as he was a third-round pick of the New York Jets after beginning his NCAA career as a walk-on. Here are Davis’ odds at Mybookie to win 2020 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year as well as the Jets’ over/under win total.
New York took Davis with the No. 68 overall pick in the 2020 draft. The Jets previously traded defensive lineman Leonard Williams to the New York Giants to obtain the pick.
Davis originally joined California’s track and field team as a walk-on and only joined the football team after a tryout in the spring of his freshman year. He was a second-team All-American in track a senior when he qualified for the NCAA Championships for the first time and finished 14th in the 110-meter hurdles (13.87).
Football-wise, Davis didn’t play as a freshman. As a sophomore, he played in all 12 games including starts at safety in each of the final six contests and was also the team’s primary kick returner. Davis finished with 33 tackles and one interception that he returned 31 yards. He co-led the nation in kick returns (39) while ranking ninth in kick return yards (826) and 14th in combined kick return yards (826), with both the kick return and combined kick return yards second in the Pac-12. He was third on the team with a career season high 857 all-purpose yards.
As a junior in 2018, Davis start ed every game and was first-team All-Pac 12. He tied third in the Pac-12 in both total interceptions (4) and interceptions per game (0.3), while ranking tied for 16th and 27th nationally, respectively. Davis had 56 tackles to rank third on the team, while he was second with four interceptions that he returned for 59 yards and his first career pick-six, and five pass breakups, as well as a career-high 1.5 tackles for loss (career-high -4 yards) and his first career fumble recovery. He also returned 24 kicks for 629 yards and his lone career kick return touchdown (all team highs) with the touchdown coming on a career-long 89-yard return against Idaho State.
Then last year, Davis was one of three finalists for the Burlsworth Trophy given annually to the nation’s top player who began his collegiate career as a walk-on and was named second-team All-Pac-12. He had a career-high 57 tackles to rank fourth on the team, 1.0 tackle for loss (-3 yards), two interceptions that he returned a team-high 31 yards, four pass breakups, six passes defended, a team-high two fumble recoveries and two forced fumbles. Davis was fourth in the Pac-12 in per-game fumble recoveries (0.18) and 10th in forced fumbles per game (0.18). He also led the team with seven kick returns and 149 kick return yards.
Davis underwent core muscle surgery in December and was unable to take part in February’s combine. Davis’ athleticism popped on special teams and as a single-high safety. The 6-foot-1, 202-pounder can cover a lot of ground on the back end with speed that enabled him to compete on the Cal track team. Davis has ball-hawking traits but needs to make reads quicker to finish plays.
Davis was the first Cal player taken in the 2020 draft. His selection was the school’s highest in the draft since Jared Goff was the No. 1 overall pick of the Los Angeles Rams in 2016. Davis was the first Cal player to be selected in the third round of the NFL Draft since Davis Webb was taken by the New York Giants in the third round of the 2017 NFL Draft with the 87th pick overall.
“I was excited, obviously,” Davis said about being picked “I don’t know how to describe it other than that. My hands were shaking. I didn’t expect myself to really get too nervous, but I did. It was awesome seeing my parents’ and everybody else’s reaction and how excited they got.”
Might be tough for Davis to see a lot of playing time as a rookie as the Jets have one of the best safety duos in the league already with Jamal Adams and Marcus Maye. Although Adams has asked for a trade.