Vanderbilt cornerback Casey Hayward, of Perry, has been working out in Boca Rotan, Florida to prepare for the NFL scouting combine, which started on Wednesday.
He went through rounds of interviews at the Senior Bowl, where he met with the Atlanta Falcons, but now he wants to show the NFL that he’s fast enough to cover pro wide receivers.
“People want to see how fast I’m going to run,” said Hayward in a telephone interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Tuesday. “I’m trying to go up there and prove to everybody that I’m fast enough to run with guys at the next level. People don’t think that I’m that fast, but I am. I’m going to go ahead and prove it and then hopefully jump a couple of people.”
NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock has LSU’s Morris Claiborne as the top rated cornerback in the 2012 draft. He’s followed in Mayock’s top five rankings by Alabama’s Dre Kirkpatrick, North Alabama’s Janoris Jenkins, Montana’s Trumaine Johnson and Iowa State’s Leonard Johnson.
Hayward, who’s 5-foot-11, 188-pounds, started 37 games and had 13 interceptions for the Commodores, is in the next group of cornerbacks. He’s run the 40-yard dash in 4.42 seconds.
He was lightly recruited after starting three years at quarterback in high school.
“I just ended up there by the grace of God really,” Hayward said. “Other than Vanderbilt, not too many people recruited me because I was a quarterback. They saw that I had enough talent to transfer to [cornerback.] Other quarterbacks have done that in the past.”
He was recruited by Middle Tennessee and Troy. He attracted some interest from North Carolina, but never received a scholarship offer from the Tar Heels.
The conversion to cornerback in college was difficult at first. He played nickel back and on special teams as a true freshman. He started his last three seasons.
“The hardest thing was just working on your back pedal and learning all of the techniques,” Hayward said. “It was something that you’ve never done before and everybody was ahead of me because they had been doing it. It was just a big transition from a technique and fundamental standpoint.”
Hayward believes that he’ll be able to impress teams with his knowledge of pass coverages.
“We played everything,” Hayward said. “We played man. We played Cover Two, Cover Three, some five, eight and Cover Nine. We played everything. We played quarter-quarter-half and Cover Four. Anything scheme-wise, I feel like I can fit into it since I’ve played it all throughout my career at Vanderbilt.”
–D. Orlando Ledbetter, The Atlanta Falcons beat blog