Today I am starting something new. I am trying to better understand pro players and get better with my comparisons when involving college players. So I am going position by position ranking players in the NFL. The first one? We are looking at cornerback Casey Hayward Jr.
Hayward is a ten-year veteran out of Vanderbilt. He has been a well-established corner in the pros for the past few years. Coming out of college, he posted a rather slow 40 time compared to others in his class at 4.57. However, his 20 yard shuttle and 60 yard shuttle times were off the charts. He was drafted by the Packers and spent his rookie contract there. After Green Bay, he moved to the Chargers, where he had spent most of his career until last season when he signed with the Raiders. During the 2022 free agency period, he has signed with the Atlanta Falcons. Let’s take a look at this veteran and see what he brings to the Falcons for this coming season.
First off, Hayward is a versatile corner. Standing at 5’11” and 192 pounds, he is strong, smart, and thrives in Cover 3, Cover 2, off-man, and bail. Press man isn’t his strong suit; he tends to do much better in situations where he has a few yards between him and the receiver. This gives him the ability to read and react to where his man will go. Hayward is a very instinctive corner and he has quick reactions to make good breaks on the ball. Being in the AFC West for so many years, he has gone up against some of the best receivers in the league on a consistent basis and has held his own for years. He knows how to use the sideline to his advantage, especially in red-zone situations. Hayward has great closing speed and has a history of being a ball hawk even though his production has declined over the years.
Hayward is not a corner that will really be useful in the run defense. He tends to struggle with getting into the box and making stops. He gives an effort but most of the time gets run over. Hayward doesn’t have the best speed for a corner. Struggles at times with press man coverage. He predominantly plays in off man. Doesn’t always have the best recovery whenever he gets beat.
This is a good pickup for the Falcons. With AJ Terrell as the CB1 for the team, Hayward should fit in nicely to the CB2 spot. While he is older and has fallen off a bit after the past few years, he does still have things to offer an NFL team. He hasn’t had many injury concerns over the past few seasons. While he may be near the end of his career, he still has good play to offer. He should fit in nicely in Atlanta, a team desperate for help defensively. Hayward should still be pesky enough to bother NFC South offenses.
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