The NFL draft season is rolling by quickly, as there are less than 33 days until commissioner Roger Goodell officially puts the Indianapolis Colts on the clock for the first overall pick. With the San Diego Chargers expected to place a strong emphasis on defense with their draft selections, it will be interesting to see if they address the cornerback position. One player they may want to give strong consideration in the third or fourth round is Vanderbilt cornerback Casey Hayward.
A three-year starter, Hayward picked off 15 passes for the Commodores, seven of which came last season and six recorded in 2010. Given his stats, many experts believe he's a ballhawk, an interception machine. That's certainly something the Chargers could use in their secondary, particularly at cornerback--being how there has been a lack of thefts from that position.
Given his playmaking ability, one has to wonder why Hayward isn't considered a first- or second-round prospect. According to Pro Football Weekly, however, Hayward isn't as physical as NFL teams would like. Even so, NFL talent evaluators have to be intrigued by the coverage skills Hayward will bring to a team's secondary. He showed off some of his talent at Vanderbilt's Pro Day yesterday.
Hayward was solid in ball drills, displaying natural cover skills and catching every pass thrown to him.
Now that I've learned about Hayward, I'd like to see Chargers general manager A.J. Smith spend his third- or fourth-round pick on the Vanderbilt cornerback. For the future, at the very least Hayward would likely serve as good depth at the cornerback spot with Marcus Gilchrist and Shareece Wright--and perhaps Antoine Cason if he's re-signed following the 2012 season. Hayward could be one of the steals of the 2012 draft.