Casey is the best of both worlds. He has the coverage ability of a corner with the physical nature of a safety. He doesn’t shy away from contact and has a knack for getting off of blocks to make the tackle vs ball carriers. He’s a sure tackler when he gets there, as he realizes that the offensive player can’t go anywhere with his legs.
He’s comfortable in man or zone coverages. In zone, he has the vision of a safety that sees how the play develops before it even does. This allows him to come off of one man and onto another as soon as the ball leaves the quarterback’s hands. He understands the flow of the offense into and out of his zone. Hayward has the purest form of any cornerback. He has textbook footwork, fluid hips, and transitions out of the back pedal to breaking on the ball flawlessly. He can contribute on both sides of the ball and this may play apart in how comfortable he is at tracking and playing the ball.
His physical nature can come back to bite him. He likes to battle with receivers down the field. This could cause some unfortunate flags. It’s a thin line on how physical he needs to be. When he plays press man and doesn’t get contact at the line, he tends to give up plenty of cushion for an NFL receiver.
When in zone coverage down in the red zone, he’ll pass the endzone route off too early to his safeties, for fear of giving up an easy underneath route. He doesn’t have great speed and will struggle to go stride for stride with NFL receivers. He has to depend on his technique and makeup speed to keep from getting beat.
- CB, Vanderbilt, Sr.
- Ht: 5’11
- Wt: 190
- 40 time: 4.51
Teams that are looking for a physical cornerback and have a safety that can cover a lot of ground will love Hayward. My biggest concern would be his long speed and having to defend the go route one on one. But, any decent defensive coordinator could put him in favorable matchups. He should mainly cover possession receivers or any scheme that runs a lot of zone. If Hayward had 4.3 speed, he would be the #1 cornerback in this draft or at least in the conversation for it. He’ll be a quality starter for years to come.