Possesses good run/pass recognition and does a nice job quickly locating the football. Consistently is able to use his hands/length and overall athleticism to disengage from blocks and make his way toward the play vs. the run. Extends his long arms well into blocks, demonstrating good hand placement inside and can consistently get under opponents on contact. Now, he needs to do a better job getting off the snap count on time. His concentration seems to falter later in games when he starts to wear down and will end up on the ground too easily. However, when the motor is running he will chase balls down from the backside and works hard in pursuit.
Looks much more explosive off the snap when lined up inside, sees the ball better and is consistently the first defensive lineman getting into his man. Lacks the first step to reach the corner as a pass rusher off the edge, but is a really effective bull rusher who routinely is able to create a jolt into contact, gain leverage and drive his man into the backfield. Possesses good balance through contact, extending his arms and slightly changing angles enough to work his way toward the quarterback. Isn’t a real sudden guy who can quickly change directions and/or pull the rug out from opposing tackles once engaged, but has the ability to gain a step laterally out of his stance with some kind of shimmy off the ball and drive his way up the field when lined up both inside or out.
Impression: His ability to anchor on the outside and shed blocks in both the run and pass game will serve him well. Doesn’t strike me as a potential dominant pass rusher in the NFL, but he has the versatility to create mismatches in a 4-3 front and should also get some looks as a 3-4 DE, as well. I would expect him to mature into a very solid starter in the NFL."
Run Defense: Strong against the run whether lining up against the guard or tackle. Crashes down to close gaps. Can spin off block if runners cut back against the grain. Crashes down on inside runs, using length to factor get in on some plays. Good punch to knock his man back, attacks the ball when it is in his area. Maintains edge discipline to prevent bootlegs on his side of the field. His height can be used against him, however, as he fails to get low on occasion and loses leverage against stronger guards and double teams. Susceptible to cut blocks, though he is athletic enough to recover and get back into the play. Too strong for tight ends to handle one-on-one, uses leverage and hands to blow through those edge blocks. Only adequate backfield awareness, will be sucked in on misdirection and lacks great change-of-direction agility.
Explosion: Excellent quickness off the snap, splits double teams with ease and provides a rare pop into his blocker's pads to knock him back. Will be first man off the ball when pinning his ears back on the rush. Very difficult for slower linemen to match his combination of strength and explosiveness, makes beating them look easy.
Strength: Flashes great upper body and hand strength, dominating most college linemen with leverage and burst, but does not consistently overwhelm better players. Does not have exceptional muscle definition in his arms. Plays tall inside and lacks a great anchor to maintain his ground against NFL-caliber double-team blocking.
Tackling: Solid tackler who can be explosive and always gives good effort. Leans when closing on the ball to ensure contact, his long arms allow him to wrap consistently. Good hustle downfield on screens, even when getting into the backfield faster than the offensive line wants. Also follows plays down the line, often to the opposite sideline. Best when attacking plays in front of him. Though he can redirect well for his height and size, he doesn't change direction easily and lacks the immediate burst to play on the edge in the NFL.
Intangibles: He has a great attitude, work ethic and immense talent. Well-liked by his teammates and coaches, he has fun playing the game. Hustles, but does not wear down much during the course of the game. Returned to school because he enjoys college, wants to win a national championship and wants to earn the title of the most dominant defensive player in college football. Father, Craig "Ironhead" Heyward was a star running back in college and the NFL. Stepfather is Cory Blackwell, a star basketball player for the Wisconsin Badgers in the 1980's who played one season for the NBA's Seattle SuperSonics."
Pursuit/Lateral movement and agility: One word you hear a lot from coaches and scouts surrounding Heyward is "motor". He is noted for his hard work and non-stop motor on the football field. Moves down the line of scrimmage well. Has quick feet and is more agile than most interior linemen.
Quickness/Explosion: Shows great explosion off the line of scrimmage. Routinely beats the offensive lineman off the ball. While he has very good burst, his long speed is not at the same level. Is not fast enough to run down ball carriers.
Run defend/Recognition: Over-runs the play at times when trying to get too far up-field. Will "forget" about the run and focus 100% on pressuring the quarterback. Must become more multi-faceted. Does a good job of anchoring and setting the edge against runs. In the past he has shown a good ability to mirror or key running quarterbacks. Has the base to take on double teams, something he has faced weekly since his junior season.
Size/Length/Hand size: Heyward has great height and length for a 3-4 defensive end. He is a little lean for a defensive tackle, which leads us to believe he will be moved outside in the NFL. Heyward does have room to grow. His 6’5 frame can hold much more weight/muscle mass than he is currently carrying. Has terrific extension due to long arms.
Strength/Ability to shed blocks: Does a nice job of using his hands to disengage blockers. Heyward also excels at preventing blockers from getting their hands on him. He has quick instincts and good vision for shedding blocks. His strength is above-average for a player of his size. He does have room to grow as needed for his position in the NFL.
Tackling: Makes the majority of his tackles in traffic. Does show a mean streak and aggression when given an open lane to the ball carrier. Closes well on the ball. Ability to change direction quickly and turn the corner to attack the ball.
Technique/Hand use/Leverage: Heyward’s pass rushing technique leaves something to be desired. Too often he relies on pure athleticism to beat the opposing blocker. Must develop secondary/counter moves. Comes out of his stance too high at times. Does not always attack the blocker. Will get lost against the run at times, but has made major improvements in this area of his game. Can get in a habit of going balls-out after the quarterback, which lets draws and counters run right by him. Must be more aware of the run game.
Versatility: The most versatile defensive lineman in the 2011 NFL Draft class, Heyward has the athleticism and strength to play either defensive end or defensive tackle in multiple fronts. His versatility will make him a very attractive player to teams who value a true "three-down" lineman.
Final Word: A starter since early in his freshman season, Heyward will enter the NFL as one of the most accomplished and experienced defensive linemen in college football. His football pedigree, athleticism and strength make him a high-priority player for NFL front offices. Heyward projects best as a left-end in a 4-3 scheme or as a defensive end in a 3-4 front. Cover 2 defenses will give Heyward a look as an under tackle who shoots the "B" gap and creates pressure on the quarterback.
At this point in his career, Heyward reminds us of Richard Seymour during his college career at Georgia."
Heyward is built for the next level.
Heyward has always been a big player with a large frame and long arms. He’s known for his strength and ability to hit you hard with his brute force tackles. Heyward played in every game since arriving at Ohio State, starting many even as a true freshman. His presence was felt early on by opposing offenses who struggled to find a solution for him, as he could line up at both defensive tackle and defensive end.
Heyward is a strong, bull rushing defensive lineman who is known for his excellent leg drive, and initial burst off of the ball. He moves well laterally, but perhaps his biggest strength is his mind. He is very instinctive, and reads the play only to react in a split second. He can fill the running lanes with his large frame, and his long arms let him bat down balls, as well as get his hands on the running back even when engaged in blocks. Heyward is excellent in keeping his contain, and he’s rarely caught out of position. He has a great spin move to disengage from lineman so that he can make a play on the runner. His pass rushing skills are average. He lined up as a five technique at times when Ohio State would run some 3-4 schemes, and also played a lot of defensive tackle in his first few seasons which shows excellent versatility.
Heyward tends to disappear in games. Part of this is due to the fact that he gets double teamed at times, and another part is that he doesn’t have a very high motor. While he moves well laterally, he still doesn’t have very quick feet, and he’s not agile. He has a bull rush and spin move as his abilities in the pass rush, which is why it’s just average, and not great. However, he can penetrate the defensive line, having 23 total tackles for loss in his final two seasons as a Buckeye. At times he looks slow and unconditioned, and he can take plays off.
Heyward still has a lot of proving to do at the NFL Scouting Combine. Right now his range sits around picks 18-32. In our latest mock, he goes to the Chargers at pick 18, but that may be a bit too high for Heyward with some other guys like Christian Ballard and J.J. Watt boosting their stock. He will need to improve on his overall quickness and show scouts that his feet aren’t bricks. Look for him to be a lock to be selected by a team currently running a 3-4 defense. San Diego, Kansas City, Baltimore, New England, Green Bay and Pittsburgh are all candidates, although Green Bay and Baltimore are more unlikely. The Saints could also use his versatility on the defensive line and move him in and out just like he was at Ohio State.
NFL Comparison: Brett Keisel "
Positive: Large, versatile defensive lineman who can be used in a variety of systems. Displays good first-step quickness, strength at the point of attack, and the ability to play off blocks. Flashes power, bull rushes opponents off the line of scrimmage, and displays a sense of knowing what's happening on the field. Gets a lot of momentum going up the field, displays the ability to chase the action out to the flanks, and possesses adequate skills in pursuit. Occupies blockers, allowing linebackers to make plays on the ball. Underrated athlete with solid speed off the edge.
Negative: Must develop more moves with his hands as he is slow shedding blocks once engaged with the opponent. Marginal pass rusher.
Analysis: Heyward has been a forceful defender since stepping into the starting lineup as a junior. He is a defensive line prospect who offers tremendous potential for the next level and has the ability to start at several positions up front. The underrated Heyward is someone who should quickly produce at the next level."
Negatives: Can struggle to disengage when offensive linemen lock on... Does not have elite closing speed to get around the edge... On the ground too much... Can be taken out of the play at the line of scrimmage... Will struggle to make plays in pursuit... Not someone to drop in coverage on a regular basis... Can get caught out of position... A bit inconsistent, is sometimes dominant yet too often a non-factor... Would need to add some weight to be considered as a full-time defensive tackle... Lacks the stamina needed from a three-down player... Suffered from an ankle injury prior to the 2009 season."
Strengths: Fast and athletic - able to rush off the edge, but also big enough to go toe-to-toe with big o-linemen. Is strong and has a variety of rush techniques demanding opponents to account for him on every play. Tallied 7.5 sacks and 11 TFLs in 2009 against some of the best lines in the country.
Weaknesses: Will sometimes overpursue and be vulnerable to the trap. Occasionally penetrates too deep on pass rush and loses contain.
Projection: Will definitely go in the first round in 2011."
With his long frame, he uses his initial burst and strength to overpower blockers. He has an explosion off the line and can beat his man simply by getting his hands on him first. He makes tackles well at the line, using his long arms to grab the ball carrier and bring them down. Heyward has a great motor, but does not have true speed. Quick in short spaces and aggressive, but lacks pass-rush technique. Gets off the ball quickly, but he brings his pads up too high (which can sometimes be a problem due to his height). While he has improved over the last year, he is often focused purely on the quarterback and takes himself out of position against the run. He does a great job when asked to set the edge and play containment football. He understands the game and is coachable, he just needs to fine tune his technique. Heyward projects as a first-round selection in the 2011 NFL Draft. "
Cameron Heyward is, arguably, the most solid Defensive End in this Draft Class: He is stout against the Run. He consistently Anchors well. He has big, violent hands, and tremendous Technique. He's got the Power to drive his man back and persistently crush Pockets. And his Processing Speed ~ Pass/Run Recognition ~ is exceptional.
He doesn't have a great Burst, and he's not going to be a dominant Pass Rusher, but I am very confident that Cameron Heyward projects to forge a long and very successfull career as a vital part of his team's Front Wall.
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