Senior | 5’10” 237 lbs | Chesterfield, VA
A compact, undersized MIKE linebacker with great instincts and block shedding ability
Rayshard Ashby has long been overlooked due to his diminutive height and stocky build since his days as a 3-star recruit. Despite being noticeably undersized on the field, Ashby plays with a massive chip on his shoulder and has found a way to use his stature to his advantage. He went from core special teamer as a true freshman to the team’s leading tackler the past two seasons and was considered a snub for the All-ACC First-Team despite receiving multiple votes for ACC DPOY. He’ll be looking to secure his third straight 100-plus tackle season in 2020.
- Instinctual run defender with good football intelligence
- Smooth ability to navigate through trash
- Polished block shedder due to great hand placement and leverage
- Explosive downhill force. Helps him rack up TFLs
- Sure tackler who attacks the low part of the strike zone and consistently is able to wrap and roll
- Solid blitz production. Finished second on the team in both sacks and pressures in 2019
- Brings legitimate special teams value
Areas to improve:
- Limited man coverage experience. Mostly just used as a hole/hook dropper, spy, or blitzer
- Top-end play speed is merely average
- Needs to clean up downfield pursuit angles
- Can simply get overwhelmed at the POA by OL who are 8-10 inches taller than him
- Missed two games in 2019 with a non-disclosed injury
Way too early projection:
There isn’t all that much precedent for an inside linebacker at Ashby’s height to become a starting NFL player. London Fletcher is the most recent name that comes to mind, and one could likely count the amount of 5-foot-10 linebackers to start in the NFL on one hand. That said, Ashby has the tools to be a two-down interior force and core special teamer at the next level. He will likely slip to Day 3 of the 2021 draft, but could elevate his stock if he shows more pass coverage chops and aces the combine.
What to watch in 2020:
Will Ashby be given more responsibility in coverage in 2020? And if so, can he prove that he can play on third down at the next level? Ashby’s exact measurements during the pre-draft process will be of utmost importance. His height, and even more importantly his arm length, could be key in determining his draft position.