Casey Hayward is a play making cornerback from Vanderbilt University. At the combine in February, he measured in at 5’ 11-3/8” and 192 pounds. Hayward is a ball hawk who had six interceptions as a junior and seven as a senior. He is a player that can be extremely valuable at the corner position in the NFL.
I talked to Hayward after his pro day workout about his time at college and his future in the NFL. We talked about the SEC and the challenges that playing in the SEC presented for a cornerback.
“It was great to play in the SEC, to get to go against the top competition every week. You are going get to go against a potential national championship winner.”
He went on to tell me some of the names he faced playing in the SEC.
“It's just some of the top guys, like, that's in the NFL right now. I went against A. J. Green, Alshon Jeffery, Reuben Randle, Mike Wallace. I went against a lot of the top guys that [are] in the NFL right now. So I just feel like it gives you a slight edge when it comes to NFL.”
We talked about playing at Vanderbilt as opposed to being a cornerback at LSU or Alabama. He told me that LSU could have four secondary members drafted this year along with the guys that they have up front. He told me that he didn’t have any of that at Vanderbilt, but was just as productive [as], if not more than, any other cornerback from the SEC.
“They're going to put a lot of pressure on quarterbacks to throw the ball to them, even though I still have more interceptions than all of them.”
He told me that some other programs had guys that were products of a system or their environment. He also told me that the perception that a kid was better because he went to LSU or Alabama was wrong.
“So I just feel like if you haven't watched me play, I think you couldn't really put judgment on where you think I am if you haven't really watched me play.”
I asked him about the combine and what the process was like for him this year.
“It's a zoo. I kind of enjoyed the process because, you know, everybody [doesn't] get to go through the process and I was one of the lucky guys that [got] to go through the process, so I just, I don't think you can just say ah, man, I dread it.
“But I think I enjoyed the process, but I think I just wanted to get teams to know me as a person and to prove people wrong about my speed.”
Hayward is a zone corner, a player who is at his best when he can sit back in space and read and react to jump routes.
“If you were to set me back in zone and let me see what the quarterback is doing, you are going to see me making a lot of plays.”
He was quick to tell me that he could play in any scheme and that he felt he could help any scheme out.
When we talked about scheme, we talked about some players in the NFL that fit the way he played. He told me that if you mixed Asante Samuel and Brent Grimes together you would get him.
We talked about what it meant to him to be a professional football player and I asked him what he could offer to NFL teams.
“I feel like I can bring play-making ability, somebody that's going to compete, somebody that's going be able to come in and help them right then. I feel like I'm one of the top corners in this draft and I feel like I'm going be a steal wherever I go.”
We talked about his size and some of the things he has shown on film that would be considered advantages for him.
“I feel like a lot of people don't give me the recognition I should get, but that's alright and I feel like teams watching a lot of film, they get to see me making a lot of plays, being very productive.”
We talked about where he could go in the draft and how high it could be. He told me he felt that teams had him ranked higher than people that didn't actually watch him play did.
I asked him what he wanted the fans of the team that drafts him to know.
“I'd just tell them be ready for somebody that's going to bring a lot of excitement to the team, somebody that's going to make a lot of plays for them, somebody that's going [to] even the score for them.”
“I just feel like I'm just going bring an edge to a team that needs a playmaker. If you need a playmaker, I think I'm that guy.”
Casey Hayward is a very good football player, a player that is going to make a difference for a team very quickly. He has played under intense pressure his entire college career and has been very productive.
He is the kind of player that can come in and make big plays for a defense in a priority position in today’s NFL.
Scott Bischoff is a Contributor for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained first-hand.