In his latest seven-round mock draft, SNY's Ralph Vacchiano had the Giants selecting California safety Ashtyn Davis in the second round. It was a pick that his predicted trade with the Dolphins landed, but nevertheless, it was one that made tons of sense.
Because Davis could be the perfect complement the Giants are looking for next to Jabrill Peppers at safety.
When you think of top safeties in this year's draft class, you think Alabama's Xavier McKinney or LSU's Grant Delpit. Both of those players should be going in the first round, or very early in the second round.
Davis, though, is someone who has scouts very intrigued, with some thinking he could project to be just as good as those two.
Before we get into why he's a perfect fit for Big Blue, a little background on the 23-year-old safety. Davis wasn't being looked at coming out of high school by any football program -- like at all. But he told NBC Sports Bay Area that he realized track could be a way to make that happen.
"I'd say my senior year of high school was the first year I took track seriously," he said. "I had no football offers and I wanted to get somewhere to continue playing football and I was slowly realizing that track might be the only way that was gonna get done."
Davis would eventually choose Cal to remain close to home, and said he thanks his parents for allowing him to take his shot at his dream of playing college football.
"They were willing to take take out loans and work around it to allow me the opportunity to play," he told reporters at the NFL Scouting Combine.
Davis would walk on to Cal's program and fight his way to the top over the next five years, and it was his redshirt senior season in 2019 that truly got the attention of NFL scouts on multiple teams. He built himself into one of the best safeties in the country, collecting two interceptions, 55 total tackles, one forced fumble and two recovered, and four passes defended. Davis had four interceptions in 2018 as well.
Why is he now at this point in his career? Well, it's the main measure that should have the Giants interested -- his calling card.
A groin injury didn't allow Davis to run the 40-yard dash at the Combine, but he was expected to blow everyone out of the water and get scouts to pick up their phones to move his name up draft boards. And he couldn't do that his Pro Day at Cal on March 20, either, as that fell through due to coronavirus concerns.
"My goal is a 4.3, I kind of have high expectations for myself," he said. "I've never tested in a 40 but I think I can move a little bit."
A little bit might be the biggest understatement he's ever said.
What makes Davis so great in the open field is that track speed that can be turned on in an instant. It's the key factor that had Vacchiano drop his name into his mock, saying "that closing burst gives him tons of potential." But that isn't all. At 6-1, 201 pounds, Davis also isn't afraid to lay down a big hit. Those abilities have definitely gotten better in his years with the Bears.
Three plays from Ashtyn Davis (against Herbert) show why I believe he is an intriguing deep-half safety option for the #Giants- David Solow (@daveblax5) April 8, 2020
1. Davis undercuts pass nicely in the deep half for the INT
2. Makes the sure tackle/prevents the first down
3. Delivers big hit to cause incompletion pic.twitter.com/JU3mS6kNgV
Cal used him in a versatile way, with Davis admitting to playing at both outside and nickel corner, and even linebacker in some packages. But playing as the team's free safety was where he was most comfortable -- and saw the most results.
"I think my deep defense is my best attribute probably," he said.
That's why the Giants should have his name written all over their safety board if that's where they believe they need to make an upgrade. A fourth-rounder from 2019, Julian Love was converting there from corner last season. Though he did show some promise, he is still a work in progress.
And that isn't to say Davis isn't, too. He is still considered a raw prospect who could work on his fundamentals as well as the mental side of the game. But, considering he looks at himself more as a ballhawk -- "if I had to choose," he put it -- that speed and natural ability to make a play on the ball isn't teachable.
Now the Giants wouldn't be the only ones with Davis on their radar. Other teams like the 49ers, whom Davis grew up rooting for, supposedly are keeping tabs on him. His projection at the moment ranges anywhere from the second round to the bottom of the third round because of that raw skill and room for improvement.
But what New York needs is someone who can work well alongside Peppers, who is a natural strong safety. That ballhawk mentality is perfectly suited to Peppers' hard-hitting game. Davis' versatility, which also includes returning kicks and punts just like Peppers, is only an added bonus.
Having someone as the last line of defense whom defensive coordinator Patrick Graham can trust is key, and since the Giants didn't address that in free agency, it would make sense they do so here in the draft.
If the Giants have the opportunity to select him, Davis could be just who they're looking for to fill that role for years to come.