Casey Hayward: The Numbers, The Tape, The Verdict

Casey Hayward had the turnovers, but did he have the coverage of a star cornerback?

Although it wasn’t completely unexpected, when the Green Bay Packers released Charles Woodson this off-season there was some surprise amongst the national NFL fanbase. Woodson is 36 and missed a large chunk of last season because of injury. Couple that with his high salary and the Packers knew they needed to go in another direction.

Still, Woodson had been a key figure for the Packers ever since he arrived in Wisconsin from the Oakland Raiders in 2006. Woodson had 38 interceptions, 15 forced fumbles, nine touchdowns and 11.5 sacks during his seven year stint with the Packers.

Replacing Woodson won’t be easy, even after he moved from cornerback to safety last season. Woodson was a unique player because of the way he moved around the field and did different things in different aspects of the game. Woodson was never a shutdown cornerback, but he was an intimidating one who was as likely to find his way into your endzone than you were into his.

The Packers had been preparing for Woodson’s eventual departure as far back as the 2012 NFL Draft. More specifically, they selected Casey Hayward from Vanderbilt in the second round of the draft to eventually fit into his role on defense. When Woodson was injured during his rookie season, Hayward was forced into a more prominent role than he expected.

Although the plan had altered slightly, Hayward rarely ever looked uncomfortable on the field. Not only was he impressive for a rookie, he quickly won over analysts to the point that he was competing to be considered one of the best cornerbacks in the whole league. Hayward had 53 tacklesm six interceptions and one forced fumble during a season when he made Pro Football Weekly’s 2012 NFL All-Rookie team.

Hayward’s reputation is very flattering, but it must be found out if that reputation is based on big plays and babying from the coaching staff or if he was legitimately one of the best young cover cornerbacks in the NFL last year.

As has already been done with Darrelle Revis, Patrick Peterson, Brandon Flowers and Richard Sherman, Hayward got Pre Snap Read’s All-22 Analysis for every snap of his rookie year.

Explaining the Process

Qualifying Plays:
Plays that count:

  • Every snap that has the cornerback in man coverage no matter where the ball is thrown.
  • The above includes sacks, quarterback scrambles and plays where the defensive back has safety help.

Plays that don’t count:

  • Screen plays. Even if the receiver isn’t part of the screen, these plays do not count.
  • Plays where either the receiver or cornerback doesn’t follow through his whole assignment.
  • Zone plays. Any ambiguity in this area will disqualify a play.
  • Any prevent coverage situations.
  • Receptions in the flat without a route run.
  • Running plays(duh!). Including designed quarterback runs.

Failed Coverages:

The ball does not have to be thrown in the defensive back’s direction for the coverage to fail. This is NOT an alysis of how many completions the cornerback allowed, that can be found elsewhere, this is an analysis of how good his coverage is on any given play.

Failed coverages can come at any point of the route, but it is subjective to where the players are on the field in relation to the quarterback. Typically, defensive backs must be within arms reach for underneath/intermediate routes. On deeper passes, there is greater leeway given to the defender.

Failed coverages can be subjective. They must be determined by the situation considering the length of the play and other such variables.

Shut Down:

This category is reserved for those plays when receivers would have to make superhuman catches to beat the coverage. The best example of this is when receivers line up wide and try to run down the sideline, but the defensive back gradually guides them towards the sideline, suffocating the space they have to catch the football in. If a receiver is on the white sideline, he is shut down.

In Position:

This is the opposite of a failed coverage. In order to be ‘In Position’, a defensive back has to be in a position to prevent a relatively well-thrown pass to his assignment.

 

Individual Matchups

No.

Player

Successful Snaps/Coverage Snaps

Percentage

1 Calvin Johnson 8/9 88%
2 T.Y Hilton 5/8 62.5%
3 Lance Moore 3/5 60%
4 Steve Smith(STL) 2/4 50%
5 Rob Housler 2/6 33%
6 Chris Givens 2/6 33%
7 Brandon Marshall 2/7 28.5%
8 Jairus Wright 5/18 28%
9 Sidney Rice 1/4 25%
10 Will Heller 1/4 25%
11 Vernon Davis 1/4 25%
12 Tony Scheffler 6/29 21%
13 Victor Cruz 1/6 16%
14 Justin Blackmon 1/6 16%
15 Mike Thomas 1/6 16%
16 Devin Hester 1/6 16%
17 Andre Roberts 2/13 15%
18 Reggie Wayne 1/7 14%
19 Keshawn Martin 1/9 11%
20 Earl Bennett 1/9 11%
21 Jimmy Graham 0/4 0%
22 Michael Crabtree 0/4 0%
23 Marques Colston 0/5 0%
24 Nate Washington 0/5 0%
25 Titus Young 0/8 0%
26 Jerome Simpson 0/9 0%
Totals 47 / 201
Averages 1.8 / 7.73 22.85%

*Those with less than four against Hayward were not included.

 Weekly Breakdown

Week 1: San Francisco 49ers

Hayward played just two snaps in his rookie debut, both were zone coverages at the end of the second quarter.

Week 2: Chicago Bears
Total qualifying plays: 12
Failed coverages: 2
Shutdowns: 4
In Position: 6

Hayward’s first real involvement on defense was exclusively as a slot corner, except when Sam Shields followed the motioning Brandon Marshall inside of him to create a very tight formation. One of his failed coverages came on his very first play in coverage, as he turned the wrong way. This wasn’t something he did often during the rest of the season, so it could likely be marked down to nerves or anxiety.

Nine of his 12 qualifying plays were spent covering Ear Bennett, so Marshall only beat him once on three attempts. He beat him on an out route from the slot, but Hayward shut him down two other times on an out and a seam route.

Hayward’s assignments were made easier because the Packers played predominantly man coverage with two safeties deep.

Week 3: Seattle Seahawks
Total qualifying plays: 8
Failed coverages: 2
Shutdowns: 2
In Position: 4

Hayward played well in Week 2, but his confidence and aggressive play first reared it’s head against the Seahawks.

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Early in the second quarter, the Seahawks were in their own territory facing a third and five. Hayward is in the slot, lining up across from Golden Tate. The Seahawks have spread the field with five receivers(one tight end lined up as a receiver), meaning that the Packers’ pass-rush has no running-threat to worry about. The Packers have responded to the five-wide formation with a cover-two look(both safeties deep and the underneath defenders lined up over receivers).

However, as the above image shows, there is no defensive back lined up over Zach Miller, the tight end in the inside slot position at the bottom of the screen. In order to play Cover 2, the Packers would need one of their linebackers to drop into coverage on him.

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At the snap, the linebacker doesn’t drop into coverage, the Packers instead blitz him and rotate their safeties so they are playing a single-high coverage with man coverage underneath.

The defenders in the above image are all lined up face-to-face with their receivers, except for Hayward, who is daring Tate to try and beat him down the field. By setting up in this stance, Hayward is understanding that his pass-rush will make it hard for Wilson and Tate to connect down the sideline, while the safety help is in good position to cover him if he does get deep.

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When Tate attacks Hayward’s inside shoulder to run the Slant/In route, Hayward is able to quickly shift his feet so that he is in the perfect position to make a play on the football. Quickness is the first aspect of Hayward’s game that stands out. Even though much of his play from the slot was aided with deep safety help, he was still exceptional at shadowing receivers underneath and making plays such as this one on quick passes.

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His quickness alone wouldn’t be effective if he didn’t have such excellent ball-skills to pair with them. This was one of many plays throughout the season where Hayward used his wingspan to break up a play that should have favored the receiver.

Hayward had a new level of comfort throughout this game that wasn’t as evident in the Bears game. He was beaten just twice in eight coverages, once when he was blocked off by a defender trying to chase Sidney Rice and once by Charly Martin.

Martin beat him after Hayward had covered him so physically on their previous snap against each other that it was borderline abusive. Heyward got into his chest and showed him no respect as he tried to move up the field with his brash play. It appeared that Martin had gotten the better of him on the next snap as he escaped going across the field, but Martin initially gained position because Hayward was forced to drop off from a stacked receiver set. Hayward took away the sideline, which allowed Martin to move inside. He was free for a reception, but Hayward likely would have limited any potential YAC to nothing as he recovered very quickly.

Week 4: New Orleans Saints
Total qualifying plays: 8
Failed coverages: 2
Shutdowns: 2
In Position: 4

The Packers played a lot of zone early on in this game, but Hayward got more chances to play man coverage as the game developed. Again, he played exclusively in the slot and took whatever receiver came his way. This was a good game to show off Hayward’s athleticism. He covered Marques Coltson, David Thomas, Jimmy Graham, Devery Henderson and Lance Moore on 20 snaps.

Hayward struggled somewhat with Lance Moore, but there was one play against Marques Colston that really stood out.

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Hayward is lined up in the slot, but has been forced to drop off the line of scrimmage because of the stacked receivers. Even though he has a safety directly behind him, the Packers are playing man coverage on the outside so he doesn’t have safety help deep.

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From the snap, Hayward is worried about Colston running down the seam. He has no help, so he starts out in a bail technique and is almost completely turned to face his own endzone when Colston enters his break at the top of his curl route.

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Colston was forced to hesitate for a split second at the top of his route, while the presence of the defensive back who had come off his own assignment when he saw Brees look Colston’s way forced him to put the ball on Colston’s outside shoulder.

Even though Hayward needed those two aspects of the play to give him a chance on the football, it was still a very, very impressive recovery from a position where Colston should have had a relatively easy reception.

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Once again, Hayward’s ball-skills highlight his quickness. He immediately looks for and locates the football instead of settling for the tackle on the receiver and ultimately beats him to the ball. Hayward breaks up the pass and it’s his hands that knock the ball straight up into the air for a potential interception.

Week 5: Indianapolis Colts
Total qualifying plays: 16
Failed coverages: 6
Shutdowns: 6
In Position: 4

Hayward struggled with Ty Hilton’s speed, but was able to shut down Reggie Wayne on all but one snap in seven assignments. Hayward was able to deal with Wayne because of safety help, but still had to stick with the receiver underneath.

The Packers dropped him into a deep safety role twice in this game also, but they never did it again during the season. There didn’t appear to be any rhyme or reason for it either.

Rookie-on-rookie crime was committed in the fourth quarter when Hayward got his hands on a pass from Luck for the interception, but the play was more about blame on the young quarterback than fame for the cornerback.

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Of course, he did show off good coverage ability and excellent ball-skills, but in comparison to his interception against the Houston Texans, it wasn’t notable…

Week 6: Houston Texans
Total qualifying plays: 12
Failed coverages: 2
Shutdowns: 6
In Position: 4

Rookie-on-rookie crime occurred again in this game, but not just on one play. Hayward did intercept a Matt Schaub pass that was destined for rookie receiver Keshawn Martin, but that was just one play of a one for nine outing that showed off a difference in class between the two members of the 2012 class.

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Martin and Hayward were left on an island together, with the defensive back in press coverage. No safety rotations or zone combinations would occur after the snap. The space shown behind Hayward was all his to cover.

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From the snap, Hayward is suffocating Martin in coverage. As the yellow and red lines respectively show, Hayward is completely on top of Martin and in perfect position to turn for the deep ball or play any comeback routes. Schaub has already decided to force the ball in Martin’s direction and actually makes a good play on the ball.

Crucially, the ball is in the air and Hayward still hasn’t turned his head. The receiver knows it’s coming his way, but Hayward doesn’t know so he must react to the ball quickly, while still playing perfect coverage if he is to make the interception.

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Hayward keeps the quality of his coverage in tact all the way to the goalline, before he whips his head around at the last moment to locate the football. He leaves his feet and is at full stretch to defend the pass and knock it away for the incompletion. Of course, as you already know, he doesn’t knock it away.

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Instead, Hayward tips the ball to himself, before using his athleticism to keep his balance and his focus to watch the ball into his hands for the catch.

This was the first game when Hayward played outside more than he did in the slot. Kevin Walter got free underneath once, while Martin go free once on an outstanding deep post route. Hayward bought his fake after starting out the play in off-coverage. He quickly recovered, but Martin made plenty of space for Schaub to get the ball to him.

Week 7: St. Louis Rams
Total qualifying plays: 17
Failed coverages: 7
Shutdowns: 1
In Position: 9

For the third week in a row, Hayward had an interception where he showed off his coverage ability before turning back to the football for the athletic reception. However, the most notable play from this game wasn’t a positive one, or even one that proved to be of great consequence.

There are two ways to read this play. If you want to be optimistic, you can say that Hayward took a calculated risk and understood perfectly what the scenario around him was. If you want to be pessimistic, you can say he risked giving the opponent an easy 7-0 lead on the first drive of the game when they were about to be forced to punt.

Either way, he took an unnecessary risk that could have really hurt his team.

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There are a lot of different directions that this play could have gone in, but they all start the same way. Sam Bradford motions Chris Givens into a tighter formation from his initial position outside the numbers. Hayward follows him from the outside.

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The Packers leave one safety deep with a linebacker holding the middle of the field in zone coverage. The rest of their defensive backs are employed in man coverage underneath as the Rams’ receivers run crossing routes across the formation. Hayward is responsible for Givens, who runs the crossing route from the left, while Sam Shields chases Brandon Gibson coming across from the other direction.

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Because Hayward was in off coverage as Givens motioned into position, he needed to recover from the start and was out of position as the play developed. Even though there was some distance between him and his assignment, the presence of the linebacker over the middle afforded Hayward the opportunity to recovery by running behind him and catching up to Givens at the other side of the formation.

This is the point where Hayward tries to make a play.

Hayward Rams

Hayward breaks off his route to the far sideline sharply, to jump in front of the receiver coming the other way. In a split second, Hayward has moved into the perfect position to prevent a reception or come up with an interception.

Sam Bradford was always looking towards that spot of the field and Clay Matthews was pushing his way down towards the quarterback, which could have forced him into a quick throw. If Bradford had thrown the ball to that area of the field, then Hayward would have been lauded for a great instinctive play.

Screen Shot 2013-05-26 at 20.22.52

In the yellow circle, Hayward has shut down the receiver coming towards him. However, at the same point, Clay Matthews, green circle, was unable to get to Sam Bradford, who isn’t under pressure in the pocket. Bradford is looking at Lance Kendricks, blue circle, and ultimately over throws him.

However, the real issue on this play is with Chris Givens.

Givens is wide open and running into space at the top of the screen. The cornerback who was initially tracking the receiver who Hayward has shut down, came across the field behind the linebacker like Hayward should have done. We know this because the rest of the defense has acted in a way that fits with his move opposed to Hayward’s. The defender responsible for Steven Jackson in the backfield never sees Givens running free behind him, while the safety is also reacting to Bradford’s eyes.

Screen Shot 2013-05-26 at 21.00.48

Had Bradford held the ball for a split second longer to survey the field, he would have found Givens, Hayward’s assignment, wide open for a simple touchdown.

Hayward gambled for an interception that never came, risking a touchdown that never came. He was fortunate that this play resulted in just an incomplete pass, because had Bradford adjusted to throw the touchdown, Hayward would have been responsible for a touchdown that came from a third down play in a 0-0 game on the very first drive.

An opening drive touchdown doesn’t just give the Rams’ seven points, it gives the opposition offense momentum and a foothold on the scoreboard to build their offense off of. Hayward showed no situational awareness in the risk he took.

Taking risks is okay, a player such as Ed Reed has built a hall-of-fame career off of them. But those risks must be better calculated if they are to be beneficial for the team as a whole.

Week 8: Jacksonville Jaguars
Total qualifying plays: 15
Failed coverages: 3
Shutdowns: 1
In Position: 11

Hayward shut down Mike Thomas once and was in control for most of the game, but let Thomas slip free when he was in off-coverage and the receiver ran underneath a teammate tot he flat. Cecil Shorts also lost him on an out route when he lined up outside. However, Hayward proved more than capable of containing Thomas, Shorts, Justin Blackmon and Michael Spurlock when asked.

Week 9: Arizona Cardinals
Total qualifying plays: 22
Failed coverages: 6
Shutdowns: 4
In Position: 12

Hayward was moved into the starting lineup and showed up particularly well against Rob Housler, but as he had in previous games, he came up short when asked to play off-coverage.

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Hayward is left alone on an island with Andre Roberts. Because of that, he has dropped off between seven and eight yards. In theory, he is in perfect position to defend any deep pass that quarterback John Skelton may look to throw his way.

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Roberts closes the cushion within 13 yards of the line of scrimmage. Instead of running directly at Hayward, he meanders in and out as he moves towards the cornerback. This forces Hayward to turn and look to bail out while still keeping his shoulders to the sideline setting himself up for a comeback route.

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Hayward overplays the potential for a comeback, pushing him towards the sideline and out of position as Roberts glides back towards the middle of the field. Roberts is afforded a clear route to the endzone because Hayward has completely misread the play.

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Hayward recovered in time to make the tackle and prevent the touchdown, but not before Roberts had made an easy reception for a huge gain.

Week 11: Detroit Lions
Total qualifying plays: 27
Failed coverages: 10
Shutdowns: 2
In Position: 15

Hayward had another interception in this game, but it didn’t show off his coverage ability. Stafford rocketed a pass straight to him when he was alone in the flat. The defensive back looked like a wide receiver catching the ball at least.

For much of the game, Hayward played the role of a linebacker and lined up in positions that were more natural to an outside linebacker than a defensive back. He still managed to cover Calvin Johnson, Titus Young, Tony Scheffler, Will Heller and Mike Thomas relatively well. Hayward’s numbers against Johnson weren’t good, but he was only ever slightly out of position and showed the potential to be a tough test for the superstar in the future.

Week 12: New York Giants
Total qualifying plays: 10
Failed coverages: 1
Shutdowns: 3
In Position: 6

Hayward played solely in the slot, but covered Victor Cruz, Hakeem Nicks, Martellus Bennett and Travis Beckum. Cruz was the only one to beat him and he needed to run a very crisp route to do so. Martellus Bennett tried to outmuscle him at the goalline, but when he ran a post route, Hayward had stuck to him throughout and taken away any chance of him making a reception.

Week 13: Minnesota Vikings
Total qualifying plays: 17
Failed coverages: 2
Shutdowns: 3
In Position: 12

This was one of his best games as he played outside a lot and looked very comfortable.

Week 14: Detroit Lions
Total qualifying plays: 26
Failed coverages: 6
Shutdowns: 2
In Position: 18

Hayward showed off his ability to cover tight ends in this game as he battled well with Tony Scheffler throughout.

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As a nickelback, Hayward will always be in position to play the run. Throughout the season, he proved to be a good, versatile run defender. Not only is he aggressive in getting to the football, he is also a willing and able tackler in space or in tight.

Week 15: Chicago Bears
Total qualifying plays: 13
Failed coverages: 2
Shutdowns: 4
In Position: 7

Hayward split most of his snaps between Devin Hester and Brandon Marshall. Each beat him once, Hester running a nice short in route and Marshall beating him down the seam. Hester has since been removed from the wide receiving corps in Chicago, which is no surprise because Hayward made him look foolish at times.

A miscommunication between he and quarterback Jay Cutler led to Hayward’s interception. Hester ran a post route, but the ball came behind him. Hayward quickly reacted to stop and locate the football for the turnover. While Hester may not have been at fault on that occasion, when he later tried to run a crossing route, Hayward jumped into where he was going before holding his position, forcing Hester to go upfield when he didn’t want to.

Week 16: Tennessee Titans
Total qualifying plays: 7
Failed coverages: 0
Shutdowns: 0
In Position: 7

Kenny Britt and Michael Preston each tried to beat Hayward once each, but Nate Washington was the biggest victim as Hayward comfortably controlled him for five snaps. He was used very sparingly by the defense.

Week 17: Minnesota Vikings
Total qualifying plays: 8
Failed coverages: 2
Shutdowns: 1
In Position: 5

Jairus Wright beat Hayward twice, once on a seam route from the slot and once on a post from the slot. The post route should have led to a touchdown, but Ponder overthrew him when he was open moving towards the pylon.

Again, Hayward showed off his ability to play with the league’s tight ends as he completely took Kyle Rudolph out on a slant. Hayward read Rudolph’s slant route to get in front of him as he came out of his break. He was strong enough and quick enough to put himself in a position where only he could have a chance to catch the ball. Neither Rudolph or John Carlson had success against him.

Wildcard: Minnesota Vikings
Total qualifying plays: 11
Failed coverages: 1
Shutdowns: 2
In Position: 8

Hayward was in excellent form in his first playoff appearance, only Jairus Wright beat him with an outside slant against off coverage in all of his snaps.

Divisional: San Francisco 49ers
Total qualifying plays: 11
Failed coverages: 2
Shutdowns: 2
In Position: 7

Vernon Davis ran a successful deep curl when Hayward slipped at the top of his route and Delanie Walker beat him on a deep out when Kaepernick overthrew him in space.

2012 NFL Season Total:
Total qualifying plays: 252
Failed coverages: 63
Shutdowns: 45
In Position: 144
Hayward’s success rate for the season: 75%

In Slot:
Total qualifying plays: 212
Failed coverages: 49
Hayward’s success rate: 77%

 Left cornerback:
Total qualifying plays: 16
Failed coverages: 4
Hayward’s success rate: 75%

 Right cornerback:
Total qualifying plays: 24
Failed coverages: 10
Hayward’s success rate: 58%

Success Rate v. Specific Routes

1.Crosing

95%

2.Double Move

86%

3.Flat

84%

4.Curl

81%

5.Post

80%

6.Seam

76%

7.Out

68%

8.Slant

66%

9.In

42%

Other Aspects of his Play

Hayward could quickly become one of the best zone cornerbacks in the NFL. His short-area quickness, awareness and balance are his greatest strengths, while he adjusts to the football and catches it like a possession receiver.

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In the above example, Hayward is able to flip very fluidly and quickly from man coverage on Zach Miller before coming back to Golden Tate in the flat. This was something the Packers did regularly with Hayward as it helped them somewhat mask their coverage. Many of the Packers’ coverage concepts saw plays start out looking like a certain coverage before completely altering to a different coverage with very slight moves such as the one detailed above.

Quickness is an aspect of cornerback play that permeates through almost every scenario. How that quickness is used is vital however. Hayward on the whole uses his in the best way to help his defense.

While he’s not Antoine Winfield, teams aren’t going to target him in the running-game, and throwing screens to his side of the field is typically a fruitless venture.

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On this play against the Jaguars, the offense is trying to throw a screen pass to Marcedes Lewis in the slot. Lewis takes a hard step forward at the snap, but Hayward never flinches and stays on his toes leaning forward. Once Lewis makes to work back to the football, Hayward is right on his back. By the time the ball is thrown towards Lewis, Hayward is already tackling him and the ball sails over his head because of it.

Because Hayward has that natural ability to play aggressive football without being caught out of position very often, his fit as an underneath cornerback for the Packers even as a rookie was almost perfect.

It’s a cliche to say he has a nose for the football, but his hands certainly know how to find it. When he attacks the ball in the air he seems to always understand when he needs to look to knock it away from the receiver or when he has a chance of coming up with the interception himself. He had six interceptions as a rookie, but he created many opportunities for more with his ability to diagnose and proactively go for the ball.

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On this play against the Cardinals, Erik Walden will come up with the interception, but it’s Hayward who causes the turnover. The Packers are playing zone coverage across the board underneath. Hayward is lined up over Andre Roberts, who is the second receiver outside of the offensive tackle, one inside the receiver to the wide right.

Roberts is Hayward’s primary concern. He runs a flat route and attracts the attention of Hayward initially. Hayward flips his shoulders to face Roberts as he runs to the sideline, watching him long enough for him to move out of his zone. The ball doesn’t go Roberts way and as soon as he leaves Hayward’s immediate vicinity, Hayward is bursting inside with speed.

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Through study of the Cardinals’ playbook or because of his strong peripheral vision, Hayward knew immediately that Rob Housler was running a shallow out route and coming into his zone. As soon as Hayward was on his way, the ball was too.

Hayward arrived at the same time as the football, but as he always does, Hayward worked past the player and found the football. He punched the ball into the air and it popped up into Erik Walden’s waiting chest.

For all of Hayward’s strengths, he was still a rookie last year and the Packers treated him like one.

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The majority of his snaps in the slot came with safety help, while he was at times part of double teams against better receivers(those snaps weren’t counted in the above numbers). Often, the Packers would pass receivers off from Hayward and allow him to roam the underneath without an assignment. The above image is an example of one of those plays.

Hayward wasn’t an everpresent in the secondary. He played just 769 snaps all season long and would routinely see his involvement on the field spike and fall from week-to-week.

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The combination of him being a rookie and Charles Woodson filling his role, when healthy, will undoubtedly have hindered how much he got on the field. However, next year he won’t be a rookie anymore and Woodson is no longer with the team. It can be lazy to call a departed player’s heir a similar talent, but Hayward and Woodson undoubtedly share some traits.

Neither is/was a shutdown corner, but both have that ability to find the football on a consistent basis.

Hayward will be just 24 at the beginning of next season. He has all the tools to turn into the best cornerback in the NFL and he is already a very, very good slot cornerback. Hayward has the perfect blend of Leon Hall’s coverage ability and Lardarius Webb’s abrasive style playing on the interior of the secondary.

The value of a nickel cornerback has never been higher. With teams playing more nickel defense than ever and physical specimens playing the tight end position, players like Hayward could be the future of the position as a whole.

At the very least, he’s the future of the Packers’ secondary.

You can follow Cian Fahey on twitter @Cianaf

4 thoughts on “Casey Hayward: The Numbers, The Tape, The Verdict

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