From now until the 2021 NFL Draft takes place, we hope to showcase as many prospects as possible and examine both their strengths and weaknesses. Most of these profiles will feature individuals that the Pittsburgh Steelers are likely to have an interest in, while a few others will be top-ranked players. If there is a player you would like us to analyze, let us know in the comments below.
#9 Daelin Hayes/EDGE Notre Dame – 6’3/6 261
– NFL frame, good bulk and carries weight well
– Versatile player, spent most of his time playing on his feet, and moved up and down the line
– Worked at both EDGE spots and moved to 3t/off-ball in obvious passing situations
– Good effort player who runs hard to the football
– Solid tackler and finisher
– Best pass rush move is dip/rip, able to get under taller offensive tackles
– Able to counter when tackles overset, inside spin shown to be effective
– Experience dropping into zone and shows hip fluidity turning and running
– Capable of stacking and shedding TEs in the run game
– Regarded as high character and a leader, good person for the locker room
– Average to below average length for frame (32 inch arms)
– Lacks defining physical trait
– Only adequate athleticism and burst off the line
– Shows ankle tightness when trying to corner with speed, too often and easily steered upfield
– Doesn’t have enough strength to make his bull rush impactful, anchored and rebuffed by OTs
– Disappears too much from games, especially as a pass rusher
– Tends to get washed out in the run game when base blocked by offensive tackles
– Below average production, especially sack totals
– Older prospect and upside appears limited
– History of shoulder injuries?
– Turns 23 in May
– Career: 97 tackles (20.5 TFL) 9 sacks, 4 PDs, 4 FFs, 1 INT
– 2020: 17 tackles (6 TFL), 3 sacks, 2 FFs
– Team captain
– Jason Witten Man of the Year Finalist
– Tore his labrum three games in 2019, missed rest of the season
– Missed one game in 2018 due to a stinger
– Missed most of senior year of HS due to shoulder separation
– Top recruit out of high school, five-star prospect, chose Notre Dame over Alabama, Michigan, and USC among others (23 total offers)
Pittsburgh is likely to draft an EDGE rusher this year so it’s worth getting acquainted with as many as possible. Hayes isn’t a top-shelf guy but this isn’t a top-shelf class and the Steelers aren’t going to draft a pass rusher too early in the draft anyway. So let’s check out Hayes, who the team spoke with at the Senior Bowl (granted, teams speak with everyone).
Hayes fills out his frame nicely at 6’3, 261 pounds. And Pittsburgh generally drafts their EDGE rushers, at least the good ones, on the bigger side. He’s not a tremendous athlete but closes quickly and packs a punch on contact. Overall, a solid tackler and finisher. LOLB here. Good effort and chase across the field to finish the play with the sack.
His earlier tape, 2018 and 2019, was better than what I saw in 2020. Pre-shoulder injury and before the pandemic are two obvious reasons why. Against Georgia in 2019, he showed the ability to dip and rip the edge with consistency. Couple of clips to show that. Aligned over RG in the first clip, working on the RT in the second clip.
Hayes has ample experience playing on his feet and dropped into coverage a fair bit. Just curl/flat zone but he’s fluid and comfortable moving backwards, which is a plus for the Steelers’ scheme.
But there were too many times on tape where he disappeared. Hayes lacks any outstanding physical traits that most top pass rushers possess. He isn’t a twitched-up athlete, no real surprise at 261 pounds, and gets pushed up the arc too often. LOLB in the first clip, ROLB in the second.
But he also lacks the power on his bull rush too. And he can get washed against the run when in tight quarters against tackles. ROLB in the All-22 clip against Florida State.
First clip vs Michigan shows the lack of power on his bull. Second shows the lack of strength against the run.
For some guys, they just need to get in the weight room, get stronger, and add ten pounds. But Hayes is 261 so he’s already a big dude. I’m not sure how much stronger he’s going to get. The counter to that is he’s still recovering from that torn labrum. But now you’re gambling on that heading into the draft.
Hayes could stick in the league as a special teamer. I can see him be effective running and hitting downfield covering kicks and punts. But he’s maxed out, he isn’t a starter, and I don’t even love him as a #3 outside linebacker.
In some ways, the limited athlete with medical concerns, he reminds me of Curtis Weaver, a 5th round pick last season the Steelers reportedly were interested in. His ceiling is someone like Anthony Chickillo. A role for him but yeah, not someone you’re banging the gavel to draft.
Projection: Mid-Late Day Three
Games Watched: vs Michigan (2018), at Georgia (2019), vs Florida State, vs Alabama