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.
- Age: 23
- Born: 09/09/1989, in Elko, GA
- Height: 5’11”
- Weight: 192
- College: Vanderbilt
- Rookie Year: 2012
- NFL Experience: 0 years
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+——————Follow @ChadToporski