Packers Casey Hayward: 2012 Player Evaluation and Report Card All Green Bay Packers All the Time
Casey Hayward
Casey Hayward

1) Introduction: As part of the attempt to bolster the defense with talent, the Packers selected CB Casey Hayward in the 2012 NFL Draft with their third overall pick (Round 2, Pick 62). He was the unquestioned leader of the Vanderbilt defense in college, and Hayward was praised by scouts for his athleticism, awareness, and big play ability. Some have even likened him to Charles Woodson with respect to his instinctive style of play.

2) Profile:

Casey Hayward

  • Age: 23
  • Born: 09/09/1989, in Elko, GA
  • Height: 5’11”
  • Weight: 192
  • College: Vanderbilt
  • Rookie Year: 2012
  • NFL Experience: 0 years

Career Stats and more

3) Expectations coming into the season: For a rookie, there were actually some pretty high expectations for Casey Hayward. Many fans were hoping he’d be an immediate answer to the concerns at cornerback. As training camp progressed, it was clear Hayward had a shot for the third cornerback position, but second year player Davon House showed better technique and understanding of the defense. When the roster finally got trimmed down to 53 players, it was clear that Hayward would still be battling throughout the season for playing time.

4) Player’s highlights/low-lights: Casey Hayward’s six interceptions were the most by any Packers cornerback in 2012, though his best game came against the Houston Texans when he snatched two of them. And though he was targeted four times in that game, he allowed zero completions. There weren’t many “lowlights” for Hayward, though his failure to complete the sack on Colin Kaepernick in the final playoff game was certainly a stinger.

5) Player’s contribution to the overall team success: Since he was a rookie and primarily played the slot corner position, Casey Hayward only saw the field for about 60% of the defensive snaps. However, when he was in the game, Hayward did a fantastic job shutting down receivers. He was the only Packers cornerback to not allow a touchdown, and he allowed only 43.4% of his targeted pass to be caught. Hayward’s physical play on the ball and route awareness contributed to his six interceptions and 12 passes defensed.

6) Player’s contributions in the playoffs: For being so successful in his role during the year, it was somewhat surprising to not see Casey Hayward on the field as much during the playoffs. Of course, he didn’t really seem to be a key player even when he was in the game. He allowed no receptions, but was targeted only twice. Aside from that, he only made two tackles and missed one (the would-be sack). It’s a stretch to say things would have changed much with him getting more playing time, especially since it was based mostly on formations used, but for the postseason Hayward was mostly invisible.


Season Report Card:

(A) Level of expectations met during the season

(B) Contributions to team’s overall success.

(B-) Contributions to team during the playoffs

Overall Grade: B+


Chad Toporski, a Wisconsin native and current Pittsburgh resident, is a writer for You can follow Chad on twitter at @ChadToporski


  • CSS

    Woodson’s injury really gave Hayward the opportunity to shine in the slot and he took advantage of it. My only comment outside of the grading: the coaching staff managed and utilized Hayward perfectly to his skills and abilities. He’s a perfect fit in the slot and very cerebral in zone/short area coverage. His intuition is perfect for that position. He does have some limitations, especially long speed, that will never get this kid outside on #1 receivers, but he looks so dependable in any quarters scheme, zone or anything out of that slot.

    The coaching staff really put this kid in the perfect position to gain confidence and succeed. Next year he needs to show growth blitzing out of the slot. That’s the number one area that can put Hayward over the top and truly make him dangerous.

    • Stroh

      Beat me to it… Was gonna say the same things. Hayward had a really good season no doubt, but he was put into a situation that was perfectly suited for his skill set in the slot. In fact he has limited athleticism for a CB, just has real good quickness, but lacks speed to play outside. He is instinctive like Wood and has ball skills but his limitations athletically, along w/ short arms will prevent him from being an outside CB. Basically he is resigned to being the slot CB and that suits his skills, but he won’t be an outside CB and probably won’t be a starter w/ Shields, Williams and House all better outside.

      Its just gonna be a mistake to ever think he’ll become much more than he is right now. He was put into Woods slot role when he got injured and it improved the D cuz Hayward is excellent in that role. Really I think he was drafted specifically for that role.

      • Oppy

        Playing the slot receiver is a much more demanding role than playing the perimeter, the entire route tree is at the disposal of the wr in the slot.

        Also, there’s every reason to believe this kid is going to improve. He’s smart, he’s gifted, he’s instinctive, and he’s young.

        It’s the PHYSICALLY gifted players that may or may not improve- You don’t get much faster, quicker, or taller than you are at 22 (Strength is a different matter, but doesn’t really apply much for a DB.). It’s the ability to study, comprehend, learn, and apply that limits players.

        • Stroh

          Different skill set. I don’t look at it as easier or harder. Outside you need more speed, slot more quickness. Ball skills are needed both. Instinct helpful at both. I didn’t say the Shields, House or Williams are more talented, just that they are better suited outside and Hayward is better inside. Route tree doesn’t change much inside or outside, just that in the slot mostly you get the small quick guys for shorter routes. ALthough a good and really physical CB (House can sometimes puch reciever off their route and sometimes even out of bounds.

          From what I can tell House is more physical than Hayward. Just seems that w/ Hayward he isn’t going to get more instinctive or smarter and he’s already at his peak physically. Not like he’s going to get faster suddenly.

          I love that we have players that are perfectly suited for their roles. Don’t look at it as more demanding, just different skill sets.

          • Oppy

            Route tree completely changes, Stroh, because of the physical confines of the field.

            Everything changes due to to the sideline- or lack thereof.

            A wide out lined up on the left is unable to break hard left. He is confined to running down the field or running routes that break to the right, with the exceptions of tight curls to the sideline and quick outs. If you are in the slot, the world is your oyster- you have the room to run any route to the left or right.

            Defenders gain an advantage on the sideline as well, they often refer to the sideline as an “extra defender”, for the same reasons it limits the WR’s route options. the CB on the perimeter can crowd the WR to the sideline and play with inside leverage. The DB playing the slot receiver does not have that option, and if he plays a guessing game and gets caught in the wrong leverage, the slot receiver will eat him up.

            It’s all about space and leverage, and the sidelines cut it in half compared to the open range the slot receivers enjoy.

            • Stroh

              An outside WR can still run an out. Its not eliminated from the route tree. Just takes a QB to throw before the cut. Not like its that much different. Mostly the slot CB need to be quicker, cuz the wr that line up there are generally quicker. Yes there is more space but lets be real, I don’t think Hayward would be nearly as good outside, just like I don’t think Shields, House or Williams would be as good inside as Hayward. If anything I would say playing inside is more the thinking mans spot, where instinct are more important. You don’t see too many slot WR running a 9 route. Heck they don’t usually run deeper post or flag routes. Cuz the Safeties are right on the hash’s where the slot reciever would run right into one safety or the other.

            • Stroh

              If the slot CB is more physically demanding why are all the 1st round CB playing outside and many fewer playing inside? Looking back at the past 3 yrs.

              Claiborne, Gilmore, Kirkpatrick, Peterson, Amukamara, Haden, Jackson, McCourty, Robinson, Cook (2nd round) are all strictly outside CB

              Jenkins (2nd), Hayward (2nd), Arenas (2nd) are the guys that are consider slot CB.

              2 others Kyle Wilson and Aaron Williams (2nd) can probably play both inside and out.

              Looking at the list the vast majority of the top CB taken all play outside. And the guys drafted in the 2nd are all the inside guys. So which is more physically demanding if all the best athletes are playing outside?

              • Lucas

                Isn’t that exactly why GB teaches each WR each position? Cobb/Jennings out of the slot…lethal!

              • Two Bears, One Cup

                Most 1st round CBs play outside because that is usually where the top WRs play. Most common formations have outside WRs but fewer formations have slot WRs, so in order to get your best receivers on the field you put them outside. Thus the best CBs get put on the outside because they get the most playing time out there, and against the opponents’ top talent.
                And you need the top-level talent to get open on the outside, whereas lesser talents can still get open over the middle. Not only is the route tree more varied over the middle, but the throw is shorter, giving the QB an easier throw and the DB less time to react.
                I think Mark Chmura is worth mentioning here. Neither quick nor fast, but able to get open enough in the middle of the field.

              • Oppy

                I never said playing the slot was more -physically- demanding.

                The slot IS a more difficult coverage assignment for the reasons I listed, which we do not agree on- no sideline to help you out, the WR can run any route on the tree. There’s a reason why Woodson played the slot for the last many years when he still had his legs underneath him. It takes skill, understanding, and instincts to play it well. Guys covering the perimeter is more about speed, length, and ball skills. Guys in the slot need to be on point and sharp- far more ways to get beat in the slot.

                We’ll just have to agree to disagree on this one. 🙂

      • see my comment below…

  • FireMMNow

    I think Hayward should be one of the few A players on defense. He was a lights out cover guy when he was on the field. Woodson coming back for the Playoffs hurt his grade, but it is hard to put that on him. B+ is not far off, but he graded out as a top 5 corner in the league. He is a stud. Cannot wait to see him next year.

    • Stroh

      I don’t see how Woodson coming back affected Hayward. Hayward stayed as the nickel/slot CB. Wood took over at Safety again and kept Jennings and McMillan off the field. Hayward is a terrific slot CB, it suits his ability and skills perfectly, but he isn’t a stud and is probably almost as good as he’ll ever get. I don’t see alot of upside in him. Don’t get your hopes up for him to take a huge jump in the future!

  • SchenySchen

    As it stands, Shields,House and Hayward will make a formidable DB trio for a number of years. I think this will be Tramon’s last year in GB as I believe he will be a free-agent after this year. GoPack!

  • Lucas

    Why the picking on Hayward’s speed? It does not take blazing speed to be a shut-down CB. What is does take is a full utilization of the talents you have. Hayward has enough speed.

    • Stroh

      His speed is below average, so is his leaping ability. Those along w/ short arms are gonna make it difficult for him to contest balls downfield. I like what he brings to the table alot, he’s perfectly suited for the slot, but outside he would be exposed. We’ll see… If I’m proven wrong I’ll be more than happy to admit I was wrong about him.


    Hayward jablome

  • Chad Toporski

    Teams have generally used shorter, quicker WRs in the slot to take advantage of that part of the field. In response, defenses have started using nickel corners that match those skill sets. Of course, offenses have responded to that by sometimes putting their bigger WRs/TEs in the slot to counter the nickel and create a mismatch.

    There are also differences between the roles of the X and Z receivers, even though they both play on the outsides.

  • Let me add this to the discussion. The same scout that told me how much the Packers liked Hayward before the draft also told me he could easily be converted to safety as a Woodson replacement. Maybe, if House proves out as a starting corner, you might see that down the road. I don’t consider it likely at this point, but something to keep in mind.

    • Steve Cheez

      Leroy Butler?

  • Ron LC

    A great pick in the 2012 draft. A year of experience should make him even better. Look forward to watching his development.

  • PatMc

    A real football player with football speed. After this offseason of training his blitz skills will be improved. He has shown the ability to get to the QB but needs refinement which is what the coaches job is all about.

    I can’t wait to watch him next year.