NFL COMBINE: Georgian Hayward ready to run fast

Vanderbilt cornerback Casey Hayward (19) celebrates his interception-return for a touchdown with teammate Carey Spear (39) against Connecticut in the fourth quarter of an NCAA college football game on Saturday, Sept. 10, 2011, in Nashville, Tenn.  Vanderbilt won 24-21. (AP Photo/John Russell)

Vanderbilt cornerback Casey Hayward (19) celebrates his interception-return for a touchdown with teammate Carey Spear (39) against Connecticut in the fourth quarter of an NCAA college football game on Saturday, Sept. 10, 2011, in Nashville, Tenn. Vanderbilt won 24-21. (AP Photo/John Russell)

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

Get instant updates on Twitter at AJCFalcons and you can join the Facebook Fan page at AJC Falcons.

8 comments Add your comment

Tdawg

February 22nd, 2012
1:27 pm

Tdawg

February 22nd, 2012
1:30 pm

This first thing is getting to be an old habbit.Twice in the past week. Oh well. The Falcons should look at the best CB on the board that is left when it does eventually come their time to select. Those well below average D-linemen are getting to slow to pressure the QB, so they need to find someone that can cover a reciever for more that 2 seconds.

JSS

February 22nd, 2012
2:16 pm

The Pride of Perry, it is a long way from the Panther Pit! Good luck in the league, there’s nothing you can’t do!

[...] Atlanta Falcons This entry was posted in Atlanta Falcons and tagged Combine, fast, Georgian, Hayward, ready. Bookmark the permalink. ← Chargers wary of franchising Vincent Jackson [...]

Jeff B

February 22nd, 2012
4:11 pm

Oh come on, by the end of the article he was just making up defensive schemes!

Worm

February 22nd, 2012
6:41 pm

I’m sorry..A cornerback from Montana–Let’s see his stuff.

**Frederick(Bailey)Douglass**

February 23rd, 2012
9:24 am

I’m not so concerned with the draft picks…or even talent level that we already have in the Defensive backfield.

I want to see a change in philosophy from the Falcons on both sides of the ball. Urgency, urgency, urgency. There is a reason that the Falcons rarely blow anyone out and play to the level of competition. Its the coaching philosophy.

I’m looking for scheme’s that are primarily bump and run for corner. This soft zone mess is just comfortable. Aggressive hard play on both sides of the ball.

FBD

Section 322 Row 7

February 23rd, 2012
1:15 pm

I can’t believe I have to sit thru baseball season soon.