1) Introduction: From defensive rookie of the year candidate to IR candidate the next, Casey Hayward has shown all the ability in the world coupled by an even bigger injury risk. Would 2014 see Hayward on the field or on the trainers table?
Casey Hayward Jr.
- Age: 25
- Born: September 9, 1989 in Perry, GA
- Height: 5’11”
- Weight: 192
- College: Vanderbilt
- Rookie Year: 2012
- NFL Experience: 3
3) Expectations coming into the season: Hayward is an interesting case where Hayward almost won the defensive rookie of the year in 2012, was hobbled by a signifiant hamstring injury that ultimately sent him to IR and then came into the 2014 season as an injury concern. The Packers were likely hoping for a decent season where Hayward didn’t re-injure himself (which unfortunately he did).
4) Player’s highlights/low-lights: Hayward’s best game has to be against Chicago (I sense this is going to be a re-occurring theme this year as the Bears basically died on the field) where he returned an interception 82 yards for a touchdown, plus two tackles and 2 run stops. As for lowlights, being inactive due to his hamstring injury for week 2 against the Jets just affirmed that while Hayward is talented, he will likely be hobbled sometimes like Clay Matthews.
5) Player’s contribution to the overall team success: Stellar. While Hayward didn’t play many snaps (about 40% of defensive snaps), he ranked as the highest graded defensive back in 2014 and was the 2nd highest graded defensive player on the Packers, only behind Mike Daniels. It’s interesting to see, however, that Hayward played very well at the beginning of the season but played worse and worse as the year went on. This falls right in line with the amount of snaps Micah Hyde saw at nickel corner, which could mean the reason why Hyde was forced to play so much nickel at the end of the year was because Hayward was injured. Would Hayward have graded poorly at the end of the year and was Hyde the fall guy for having to play out of position (then again what is Hyde’s true position)? Perhaps but the chips fell the way that they did and Hayward played better when he was on the field.
6) Player’s contributions in the playoffs: Hayward played sparingly during the playoffs, only seeing 35 snaps and played average. Again this falls in line with the idea that Hayward was injured and the Packers were basically using him only in spots (such as in dime packages)
7) Intangibles: Hayward is one of the hidden gems on the Packers roster that, should he stay healthy, should become one of the better players in the league. While he might not have the ability to play on the boundary, with the league continually shifting to more slot players, slot cornerbacks will become increasingly important.
Season Report Card (Player Grades):
(A) Level of expectations met during the season
(B) Contributions to team’s overall success.
(C) Contributions to team during the playoffs
Overall Grade: B——————
Thomas Hobbes is a staff writer for Jersey Al’s AllGreenBayPackers.com.