NEPD Editor: Doug Kyed
Vanderbilt CB Casey Hayward was kind enough to stop and chat with me with recently.
Hayward was a natural ball hawk, intercepting 15 passes while at Vanderbilt. Hayward has fluid hips and impressive technique, and shows nice instincts on the field. He flashed some unexpected sub 4.5 hand timed 40 times at the combine, while also recording an extremely impressive 6.76 3 cone time.
Interview after the jump.
Doug Kyed: Growing up in Georgia, how do you think that shaped you?
Casey Hayward: I lived in Perry, Georgia, small town, not too many famous people or what not. I grew up with both my parents, married for 16 years or what not. My parents were my inspiration, anything I ever wanted they got for me, I never had to work when i was younger. Everything I wanted, my parents helped me with. My parents are my inspiration for playing football. Trying to make it to another level and provide for those guys.
DK: When did you start playing football?
CH: I started playing at the age of five.
DK: When you were growing up, did you have a certain team that you cheered for?
CH: Nah, I was a basketball guy growing up.
DK: Were there any players that you modeled your game after?
CH: Since I’ve been in college, yes. Asante Samuel, he one of the more consistent guys in the league. He’s always around the ball making plays.
DK: In high school, I know you played quarterback, how do you think that’s helped you playing corner?
CH: I guess it’s kinda helped me out a lot. A lot of people make that transition over from quarterback to DB and do very well. You kinda know what a quarterback’s thinking because you played it. In college you really have to know the coverages. I guess it kind of helped me to that extent, so I kind of know what a quarterback’s looking for when their shoulder’s high or their shoulder’s low, where the ball’s coming and all that kind of stuff.
DK: I know coming out of high school you didn’t have a ton of offers from D1 schools, do you have any idea why that might have been?
CH: I played strictly quarterback, so a lot of people didn’t know where to put me. I would have had more offers if I had played DB some. Because I only played DB like 5-6 games.
DK: How did you make the decision to go to Vanderbilt?
CH: It’s one of the top school academically, the SEC is an elite league and if you don’t have any other offers from the SEC, why not?
DK: Do you think playing in the SEC helps you prepare for the NFL?
CH: I sure hope so. A lot of people compare to it being kind of a D-league to the NFL, like the next step. There’s good guys all across the world, but going up against those guys every week like AJ Green, Shay Hodge and Alshon Jefferys every week, you kind of know what to look for at the next level.
DK: Who was the best player you went up against in the SEC?
CH: Overall I’d probably go with Shay Hodge out of Ole Miss my sophomore year. This year I’d probably go with Da’Rick Rogers from Tennessee.
DK: You played significant minutes as a true freshman, what was the transition like after playing QB in high school and immediately getting playing time at DB?
CH: Just watching the guys in front of me, you know like Myron Lewis and DJ Moore, I got to see how they interact and how they watch games. I just got some tips from those guys.
DK: What was the best moment for you at Vanderbilt?
CH: I’d have to go with Connecticut, the UConn game this past year. Cause we were losing and I had a pick late in the game, a pick six that tied the game and we wound up winning that game in the fourth quarter.
DK: You established yourself as a ball hawk, how did you developing that skill?
CH: Just watching film. Watching guys in from of me like Myron Lewis, DJ Moore. More especially, I got to see how he watched film, how his footwork was. i just took little things from his game and put it in my game. he helped me out the last couple years.
DK: What do you look for watching film?
CH: I try to watch splits of the other receivers. see how they run their routes. If they switch their feet up on certain routes, if they switch their feet up on an over route, I try to catch those things. When we’re in man I try to jump routes as quick as possible.
DK: I know you played down at the Senior Bowl, how do you think that kind of helped your whole experience going into the NFL?
CH: You just got to be coached by NFL team like the Redskins. you get to see how they interact with their players and how to practice like a pro. Just being at the Senior Bowl is a great experience and I learned a lot from the coaches around, the players around.
DK: Who’s one guy that really impressed you down at the Senior Bowl?
CH: I’d probably go with, from a wide receiver I’d probably say Joe Adams, or the kid from Houston, Patrick Edwards. Those two guys were hard to guard, you know smaller guys, and at the line of scrimmage if you miss them, they’re gonna run right passed you. Those guys are fast and really impressed me a lot.
DK: What were some of the things you were really training hard for at the combine?
CH: Explosiveness, trying to work on some speed things. I felt like I showed people at the combine that I can run with guys. I thought they already knew, but I just wanted to show people that when people questioned my speed.
DK: Talking to coaches down at the combine, what were some of the things they thought you still needed to work on?
CH: Work on my speed, but I thought I proved people wrong. I ran a lot of good hand times. i ran around a i think i kind of proved people wrong on that aspect. trying to keep working on my fundementals again, and try to be technically sound. at the next level it’s all about inches.
DK: Any crazy questions from NFL teams?
CH: No, nothing really weird because I felt like I haven’t been in trouble. Nothing they asked me was that crazy.
DK: Is there anything you wished teams had asked you?
CH: If I thought was one of the better corners in the draft.
DK: Do you think you are?
CH: Definitely, I think hands down, no one has put in as much production as me in the top conference, the SEC. If you just look at my stats against the top receivers no one has matched up as well as me. I locked the top receivers down, I did it in the past year and the years in the past as well. I don’t think anybody can say they’ve done that. I feel like teams know that and people will find out when the draft comes.
DK: What are some of the things you like to do in your spare time?
CH: I like to watch movies, watch TV a lot. And I play video games. I play the Xbox a lot.
DK: What have you been hearing from teams or scouts or your agent about what round you might be predicted going in?
CH: I couldn’t even say. I wish I knew. You probably know, you probably have a better understanding than me. I talked to few people and they said you never know where you go. One team might like you high and another team might draft someone and bump you up.
I think I’m a first round, second round kinda guy. Hopefully I hear my name early come draft day.