2020 Raiders Draft Prospect Profile
Name: Rayshard Ashby
School: Virginia Tech
Weight: 238 pounds
From first snap to last whistle, Ashby lowers the boom on ballcarriers. Right away, his ability to halt a play brings focus. Ashby gets into striking position, timing his approach. Yet, he does not telegraph or embrace the big hit. By natural gifts and shoulder squaring brings him into the tackle. When play flows away from him, Ashby embraces the gator-roll approach and spins the target to the ground. At this writing, Ashby forced four fumbles in just twenty four games. Angles and timing brings Ashby into any play around him.
Basically, Ashby arrives to meet the running backs at the top of their route. Against tight ends, he shows intermediate range and the knack for staying inside their frame on medium routes.
Straight downhill. Ashby brings an explosion towards the line of scrimmage. Blockers need to always account for Ashby. If not, he will blow up the play behind the line of scrimmage, right after the snap. Despite surrendering size and strength, he wins with vertical speed, screaming toward the ball. Virginia Tech even deployed him as an effective blitzer, tallying 4.5 sacks and 14.5 TFL, to this point, in 2019.
With eyes and feet, Ashby funnels through the trash to drop he ballcarrier. He excels in this area without the downfall of false or missteps that can delay a would-be tackler from making the play.
Travis Kelce, Austin Ekeler, Royce Freeman, Philip Lindsay. Over the next half-decade or longer, the players will serve as issues for the Raiders. Now, no linebacker exists to combat, cover, impede, or delay their success. From poor free agency signings to ignoring the position during the draft, the Raiders sit in a rough spot. Opponents enter games, knowing the coverage on the perimeter and middle remain wide open. Preston Brown, Tahir Whitehead, or Nicholas Morrow do not appear as the answer to what hurts the middle of the defense. With the team moving to Vegas, the time to start anew remains a viable option. Change the entire culture of the linebacking group, immediately.
First, Ashby will not require much more than a day three pick. Why? Due to his lack of height, myopic talent evaluators will forget about him and hold standing 5’11 against him. This is where the Raiders can swoop in. Ashby could slide in a middle linebacker and give them a dynamic playmaker that have not employed in the last decade-plus. Ashby attacks, whether shooting the gap and snuffing the run, meeting the plays on the boundary and collapsing screens, Ashby makes his presence felt. Granted, 5’11 may not be ideal for a linebacker, realize that Ashby uses this perceived shortcoming as an actual weapon to make plays. With time, he could evolve into a possible starter. At worst, the Raiders significantly overhaul their depth, adding to the on-the-fly rebuild.