2021 NFL Draft: Daelin Hayes Player Profile

Daelin Hayes NFL Draft Overview

Position: Edge Defender
Height: 6’-3”
Weight: 253 pounds
School: Notre Dame

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Daelin Hayes 2021 NFL Draft Profile

If draft grades were handed out purely based on character and leadership skills, Daelin Hayes would grade out as a first-rounder. However, along with an average physical profile for an edge defender in the NFL, there’s also a lack of an elite trait to his game Hayes can hang his hat on. It’s likely the Notre Dame edge rusher will drop to the later rounds in the 2021 NFL Draft. 

Born and raised in Belleville, Michigan, Daelin Hayes moved around a lot for school. He originally attended St Mary’s Preparatory in the same state. Hayes moved to California as a sophomore and played football for half a season at St. Bonaventure High School before moving back to Michigan. He attended Cass Technical High School in Detroit before transferring again and rounding out his high school career at Skyline High School in Ann Harbour, Michigan as a senior. Hayes committed to USC before switching to Notre Dame during his final year of High School. 

Hayes played five seasons with Notre Dame and leaves as a redshirt senior. He became a starter as a sophomore in 2017 and recorded three sacks in 12 games. His junior year, Hayes recorded a career-high 32 total tackles that included two sacks. A shoulder injury forced Hayes to miss most of the 2019 season and he was granted a medical redshirt. He returned in 2020 and finished the year with 17 tackles, six tackles for loss, and three sacks with an interception and two forced fumbles.

Strengths

  • A+ leadership and character – Team captain.
  • Effective with his hands – technically sound and understands how to take on pulling guards;
  • Good speed-to-power – wins with a strong get off;
  • Understands and knows how to use his body – Shows good control with his swipe, occasional spin move, and good reactionary pass rush skillset;
  • Stays active – Good motor.

Weaknesses

  • Production is far from ideal – Nine career sacks;
  • History of shoulder injuries;
  • Athletics profile isn’t going to test well – Has to win in other ways;
  • Doesn’t have a special move he can rely on to consistently get to the quarterback – average speed, size & strength;
  • Struggled against elite competition – Washed away in the run against Alabama. 

NFL Comparison: John Simon

Originally a fourth-round pick by the Baltimore Ravens in the 2013 NFL, Simon has bounced around the league as a versatile edge defender on four different NFL teams over his career. Playing for the New England Patriots the last three seasons, Simon lacks ideal size on the edge but plays with intelligence. He’s earned eight sacks with the Patriots in three seasons but also dropped into coverage 9% of his snaps in 2020. Simon is also a willing special teams contributor. Something Hayes might need to get used to if he’s to catch on with a team. 

Teams With Need at Position: New York Jets, Cleveland Browns, New Orleans Saints, Houston Texans, Tennessee Titans

Projection: Sixth Round

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Bottom Line on Daelin Hayes

Accepting his best path onto a roster as a rookie is through special teams would benefit Hayes. He’s likely a late-round pick as the more athletic prospects are prioritized by war rooms in earlier rounds. Particularly at the edge position. Hayes is a solid 3-4 outside linebacker but at that position, getting to the quarterback counts. The fact is, Hayes didn’t get to the quarterback enough in college. 

However, scouts have reiterated often the positive character, work effort, and leadership skills Hayes brings to a locker room. Making it likely Hayes will do anything he can to catch on with a team and get on the field early in his career. He’s extremely coachable and showcased improvement in his technique every year at Notre Dame. Hayes also displayed some movement ability and decent awareness in coverage. Although limited as an athlete for the NFL’s high standards, his knowledge and football IQ are skills that will benefit him whenever he gets on the field for defensive reps in camp. 

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