Bent, TheJetsBlog.comThroughout April, I’ll be looking at some of the players the Jets have added to the active roster since the end of the regular season. Jets fans might not know too much about these players, so I’ll be looking at NFL game footage to try and assess what they might be able to bring to the table.
Today we’re going to look at offensive lineman Jacolby Ashworth, who the Jets signed to a futures deal on January 14th. The 23-year old Ashworth is listed at 6-3 and 300 pounds. He was undrafted last year out of Houston and spent time with Washington in preseason. His cousin is former NFL lineman Rex Hadnot who started 96 games in a nine year NFL career.
After the jump, a brief look at footage from his time with Washington to try and assess some of his strengths and weaknesses.
Who is Jacolby Ashworth?
Ashworth played his first three college seasons at left tackle, earning second team All-Conference USA honors. In his senior year, he took on a leadership role on the line and moved to right guard, where he earned first team All-Conference USA honors. After having started 36 straight games, he missed his final two through injury. His 2009 injury had also been cut short by an ankle injury in week four. He wasn’t invited to the scouting combine and his pro day results were mostly underwhelming, although his 9’0″ broad jump was pretty good for his position.
As expected, Ashworth was undrafted in last year’s draft, but Washington picked him up and he played for them in preseason. However, he again injured his ankle, which meant he was limited to just one game in which he played 18 snaps. It was a successful appearance though, as he entered the game with Washington trailing the Titans by seven halfway through the fourth quarter. They were able to drive downfield for a touchdown and the two-point conversion to get the lead and then got the ball back and were able to run out the clock on the ground.
As noted when I scouted Colin Anderson, it’s difficult to read too much into such a small sample size, but since that’s the only pro-level footage available to teams around the league, it’s still worth assessing. Let’s therefore recap Ashworth’s performance on those plays.
Week One – v Tennessee
Ashworth was playing at left guard, mostly matched up with DaJohn Harris, an undrafted free agent who was a final cut in camp. As noted, he entered the game with Tennessee leading 21-14 and under eight minutes to go.
– On the first play, the play went off right tackle, away from Ashworth. That was a common theme, with Washington exploiting the fact that their most experienced lineman was right tackle Jeremy Trueblood.
– The next play was a quick pass off a three step drop. Even on that play, Ashworth was rocked back by the initial thrust from his man.
– On the next play, his man got into the backfield off his outside shoulder, but that may have been by design. Ashworth moved well laterally to stay on top of his man as the quarterback rolled right for a completion.
– On the next play, the quarterback faked to the runner going straight ahead and then kept the ball for a decent gain off the right side again. Ashworth was stood up by his man, so the run probably wouldn’t have gone anywhere if it was a hand off.
– On a zone blocking play, he actually ended up blocking his man into the direction of the run. However, he did get enough of a lateral push that when the runner hit the line, he was able to push the pile for a few extra yards.
– On the next play, the defensive tackle actually knocked Ashworth flying into the backfield, but the quarterback was able to boot left for a first down.
– The next play saw him ignore the defensive line and head right for the second level, where he initially went to block one player and then came off that block to get in front of another man. While he didn’t really engage either player, he definitely slowed them down from being able to get in on the tackle, as the play went for five yards.
– Another run to the right was stretched out to the sideline for a short gain. Ashworth tried to make a cut block at the line but his man avoided it and was able to get to the edge to help force the run outside.
– Another quick pass saw Ashworth double-teaming with the center in pass protection.
– Another quick pass and another double-team that just about held up although Ashworth was rocked into the backfield initially.
– Ashworth did well on the next play to drop off and pick up a stunting end. However, he didn’t engage the end, instead just initially shoving him back and then letting him go. This bought the quarterback enough time to roll and complete a pass down at the one, though. The play was called back because of a penalty.
– Another keeper over the right side was stopped for a short gain. Ashworth made an effective double-team block.
– The next play went for a touchdown, which you can see here. Ashworth is #60 and he gets fooled by a linebacker coming up to show blitz but then dropping off, which causes him to let a defensive lineman get into the backfield. The quarterback spots the pressure well and scrambles for an easy score.
– They then went for two and got the go-ahead score with excellent pass protection as a unit, although Ashworth doesn’t deserve much of the credit because he was the spare man and didn’t really block anyone, although he did operate as something of a deterrent.
The Titans came up empty on their next drive, so Washington would have a chance to run out the clock with one first down.
– On first down, both Ashworth and the center got driven into the backfield, but the defensive tackle couldn’t disrupt the draw play up the middle for five. Again, maybe that was partly by design.
– The next play was interesting because it was the only running play where Ashworth pulled rather than just blocking straight-ahead or down on the guy next to him. He actually looked slow and sluggish and basically got into the runner’s way before he could find anyone to block.
– Finally, on third down, the play went for 15 over the left side to clinch the game and allow Washington to take a knee. Ashworth contributed well here, blocking down on the defensive tackle on his right shoulder who had initially engaged with the center. That double team block drove that player out of the way and the left tackle also set the edge with a downhill seal block on the defensive end.
As noted, it’s difficult to read too much into such a small sample size. Ashworth is hardly any kind of elite prospect and lacks the pedigree even of a player like Ben Ijalana or Caleb Schlauderaff, two guys who are by no means locks to make the roster. While injuries haven’t helped him and perhaps he has the potential to develop more if he can stay healthy, it’s difficult to imagine he’ll be anything more than camp fodder this summer. Realistically, his best chance is probably as a project lineman that spends time on the practice squad with the hope of developing enough to get a shot at a roster spot down the line.
Based on the footage watched and some scouting reports, Ashworth would perhaps be inconsistent as a run blocker, but has the smarts and footwork to hold his own in pass protection. This may mean he has a future as an emergency backup, but is a long-shot to ever become a starter. The plays on which he looked especially bad were ones where he was totally overpowered initially, so with a healthy ankle and a year in an NFL-level weights program perhaps he will fare slightly better this year if he gets a chance to play for the Jets in preseason. As it was he graded out positively (+0.4) on PFF.
Ashworth did get some experience in a zone blocking scheme while playing in Washington, having played in a spread offense at Houston. That will stand him in good stead if, as we suspect, the Jets will implement more zone blocking packages in 2014 now that they’ve replaced Austin Howard with Breno Giacomini. He’s not likely to get many opportunities though, so he’ll have to make the most of them when he does … even if it’s only 18 snaps again.
Bonus Link: Read about Ashworth’s tattoos here.
We’ll be looking at more players throughout April.