clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

What to expect from Casey Hayward

New, comments

How well will newly-signed cornerback Casey Hayward fit into the San Diego Chargers as a replacement for Patrick Robinson? Let's do a deep drive and find out!

Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

With the Patrick Robinson not coming back it was imperative for the Chargers to bring in another corner with versatility and experience. If not they were looking at a rookie to fill the void as a 3rd corner or a couple younger unproven guys in Craig Mager and Stevie Williams. Yesterday the team signed Casey Hayward to 3 year deal worth $15.3 million. As a rookie Hayward was ridiculously productive. He had 21 passes defended to go along with 6 interceptions. The following year a hamstring injury limited him to only 3 games. In 2014, Hayward only started 1 game but did play in all 16. This past year he started 13 and led all the Packers CBs in snaps. For the Chargers, he'll be a starter.

Knowing that Hayward will be a starter I wanted to get a feel for what exactly he can do and what to expect. So the numbers I'll provide are based on a 6 game sample size. His 4 games against the AFC West opponents and the 2 playoff games. I thought it'd be good to share some visuals from different games as well.

Going game by game

Chiefs

The Kansas City game showed off Hayward's recognition in the passing game and assertiveness in the run game. He was physical at the line of scrimmage as far as getting his hands on receivers but also did a nice job of beating blocks. My Packer friends told me he was slow but he was running downfield with D'Anthony Thomas so I didn't see any speed concerns.

A play that isn't in the clip above that stood out was Hayward jumping a route and coming up short that you can only imagine him taking it for a pick 6 pre surgery. Where I don't think his speed is as much as a concern post injury, his lack of burst isn't fully there. His aggressiveness and ability to read patterns certainly helps him, though.

Here are his coverage numbers this game.

Target Comp Shut Down In Position Blown 1st Down TD G/U PBU INT Penalty Stop
3 2 2 10 4 1 1 2
Slant Curl Corner Over Go Slot Press Off Out Post Outside
2/4' 2/'3 1/1' 1/1' 2/2' 11/14' 3/5' 9/11' 2/3' 2/2' 2/2'

A CB well beyond just target and completion numbers. "Blown" coverages are the number that you want as low as possible. That's defined as not being in arms length of the receiver. "In position" is just as it sounds. "Shut down" means the receiver would've had to make a highlight catch. The touchdown Hayward gave up this game he had no shot. It was a pick play but technically it was his man. I still assigned it to Hayward. That's why all numbers need context.

Broncos

This was not a good game.

Most of the game Hayward was left on an island with Demaryius Thomas and it did not go well.

The times he was matched up against Emmanuel Sanders he looked much more comfortable. While Sanders is fast, Thomas just has another gear that he used to separate and Hayward just didn't have that to keep up. Thomas was also able to use his strength to keep Hayward from using veteran type moves to hold. Whereas Sanders couldn't fend off Hayward. In this situation, the numbers really are as bad as they look.

Target Comp Shut Down In Position Blown 1st Down TD G/U PBU INT Penalty Stop Missed Tackle
6 5 1 7 6 4 2 1 1 1
Slot Perimeter Off Press Dig Out Comeback Post Go Drag Curl Slant
2/3' 8/13' 5/9' 6/8' 1/3' 1/2' 1/1' 1/1' 2/3' 1/1' 4/5' 0/1'

Hayward was beat nearly just as many times as he was in position to make a play. As well as a pass interference call and surrendered 4 1st downs not to mention a missed tackle on Thomas. He still managed to get his hands on a couple passes and had a nice stop. Another positive takeaway from this game is that the Packers coaching staff had confidence in him to leave him on an island, even if the results weren't the greatest.

The good news is number 22 for the Chargers will be guarding Thomas next year, wherever he lines up.

Chargers

Watching this game made it perfectly clear why the 1st position San Diego signed in free agency was receiver. Hayward lined up in the slot all but 1 play. The majority of those snaps coming against Dontrelle Inman who frankly didn't stand a chance.

Undercutting Keenan Allen was impressive, as was the 3 stops he picked up this game. On that back shoulder fade to Malcom Floyd you'd like to see him squeeze towards Floyd as he's recovering instead of just running straight on his path. That was his 1 big blunder of this game. He did a fine job against both tight ends, too.

Target Comp Shut Down In Position Blown 1st Down TD G/U PBU INT Penalty Stop Missed Tackle
6 2 4 17 4 1 3
Perimeter Slot Off Press Out In Drag Dig Go Curl Corner Post
0/1 20/23' 4/6' 18/20' 3/5' 3/3' 2/2' 1/1' 6/7' 3/4' 3/3' 1/1'

Raiders

Not many man coverage opportunities for Hayward this game. He also only lined up in the slot. This was a good game to get an idea of what he can do against bigger targets. The Raiders have a pair of 6'5 receiver/tight ends that lined up in the slot. It was good to see that he wasn't getting out muscled by bigger guys this game. Still saw a lack of burst at times when it came to transitioning out of the top of the route.

There wasn't much to see this game aside from a mishap during a 2 minute drive at the end of the 1st half. He made a nice move to avoid the lineman but then missed a tackle on the RB and the play went for 20+ yards. Through 4 games there's no data suggesting he truly struggles with 1 route. You could say the "dig" route isn't a strength of his.

Target Comp Shut Down In Position Blown 1st Down TD G/U PBU INT Penalty Stop Missed Tackle
4 1 14 3 2
perimeter slot press off go Out curl over slant drag dig
14/17' 10/13' 4/4' 7/7' 1/1' 4/4' 3/3' 1/1' 0/1 0/1

That would make sense due to the fact that if you don't know the dig route is coming or jump it, you're going to have a hard time keeping up unless you have really good reaction skills and quickness. Most corners struggle with this route.

Washington

This was the Wildcard playoff game and Hayward was in zone coverage the majority of the game. I only had him for 10 man cover snaps. He was only targeted twice. You'd think he would struggle with a speedster like Desean Jackson but that wasn't the case.

In the clip you'll see he cut him off on an in route and also broke up a pass on a curl route on the outside. The quick out to Pierre Garcon at the beginning is far from ideal. You'd like to see him be more aggressive after the catch and not surrender a 1st down. You also see him trying to jump a route and there's the lack of burst again. He did have 3 stops in this game which is somewhat of a recurring theme. Hayward does a great job of filling in the run game which is important considering the amount of time the Chargers will spend with an extra defensive back on the field.

Here are a look at his numbers.

Target Comp Shut Down In Position Blown 1st Down TD G/U PBU INT Penalty Stop
2 1 1 7 3 1 1 3
Perimeter Slot Off Press Go Out Post Comeback In Corner Curl
2/3' 5/7' 5/7' 3/3' 3/3' 1/2' 1/1' 0/1 1/1' 0/1 1/1'

Weird that this game the outbreaking routes were the only routes to give him trouble.

Arizona

In the divisional round Hayward had the opportunity to go against speedy John Brown and future hall of famer Larry Fitzgerald. This was 1 of the more fun games to watch. The 2 clips below showing him getting beat by Fitzgerald were the only two times he was beat all game.

He also cut he and Brown off in their routes a few times, broke up a pass, and overall played a really good game against 2 talented receivers. This was good to see knowing that he can perform this well on a big stage.

His numbers take a hit because the 2 times he was beat were for 1st downs.

Target Comp Shut Down In Position Blown 1st Down TD G/U PBU INT
4 3 2 7 2 2 1
Perimeter Slot Press Off Out In Slant Curl Drag
0/1 9/10' 7/8' 2/3' 2/3' 4/4' 1/2' 2/2' 1/1'

What to expect

The Chargers signed a corner that can excel in the slot and is not only a willing tackler, but a good one. Here are how the numbers look when you add them all together.

Shut Down In Position Blown 1st Down TD G/U PBU Penalty Stop Missed Tackle
9 62 22 8 1 5 1 9 3
Press Off Drag In Slant Curl Out Over/In Post Corner Comeback Go
47/57 29/40 3/4' 8/8' 4/8' 16/19' 10/16' 6/11' 5/5' 4/5' 0/1 20/22

Hayward isn't the athlete Robinson is but he reads routes better and plays with better anticipation whereas Robinson had a tendency to rely on his athleticism. Hayward had an 82% success rate in the 6 game sample size. That's pretty damn good. If he plays to the level that he can he has an opportunity to be the 2nd best corner on the team. Other than his work underneath in coverage and tackling, Hayward was very smart as a corner. By that I mean he understood when to pass off routes in zone coverage. He never chased. That was a bit of a problem for the safeties last year in zone. Given his role and how he played last year, and who would've been playing in his spot if he hadn't been signed, this is certainly a signing to get excited for.