Cameron Heyward, DE, Ohio State Buckeyes
40-Time: (NFL Scouting Combine Time Feb. 23 - Mar. 1 to be added)
Cameron Heyward is a strong, physical player who possesses the strength to be a dominate force along the line of scrimmage. He has strong hands and plays with good leverage to get push and hold the corner. Heyward isn't the most agile lineman, but he has enough balance to stay on his feet and has the strength to fight off bigger blockers and double teams.
Heyward gets a good first step at the snap to beat offensive linemen. He has faced double teams and although his production dropped off in 2010, he's shown an ability to handle more than one blocker. He holds the edge well against the run and has good football instincts. He does a good job of finding the ball carrier.
Heyward does not have elite speed and will struggle to chase down ball carriers. He's fairly athletic for his size, but he is not the most agile lineman in the draft. Heyward does not have an extensive arsenal of pass rush moves and relies on his strength and athleticism to beat blockers, which may cause problems for him in the NFL where offensive linemen are bigger, stronger and more polished.
One of the biggest concerns that people have had about Heyward is that he has played soft at times. As defensive linemen are supposed to be mean and aggressive, being called soft is quite the blow. I don't know if I'd go so far as to call him soft, but watching film there were plays where he did not seem to be going full speed. This is something that can be coached at the next level, especially for a player known for having a high motor.
Heyward is best suited as a 3-4 defensive end, but could play inside as a 4-3 tackle as well. He has the frame to add even more weight and could end up putting on bulk if he stays inside at tackle in a 4-3 defense.
Potential NFL Team, Round
Heyward's draft stock has fallen as teams could be concerned with consistency. Once considered a top-ten pick, Heyward may not come off the board until late in the first round to early in the second round. The New England Patriots may use its second pick in the first round (28th overall) on Heyward to add youth to their defense to develop him as a 3-4 end. The New York Jets, picking 29th, may be intrigued as well, while the Buffalo Bills could give him a look early in the second round. With the Carolina Panthers keeping the 4-3 and the Broncos possibly switching back to a 4-3, both teams may not consider Heyward an ideal fit in a 4-3 defense. Heyward could always go somewhere in the middle of the first round to a team like the San Diego Chargers at #18, but it appears that he'd be more of a value as a late first rounder or early second rounder.
Danny Hobrock, a sports journalist covering NCAA Football and MLB is the editor of our college football content. His work for Xtra Point Football has garnered national attention and is critically acclaimed. You may email Danny directly @ [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @ DannyHobrock
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