When it comes to team needs, most wouldn’t suggest pass rusher is at, or near, the top of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ list. Yet early in the 2021 offseason, the Steelers have met formally with two prospects, both of them pass rushers.
Before fans try to connect dots, it should be noted these two pass rushers were just the ones who made their meetings with particular teams public knowledge. The latest EDGE pass rusher to meet with the black and gold was Daelin Hayes, of Notre Dame.
Notre Dame EDGE Daelin Hayes met with 31 teams formally at the Senior Bowl, noting that the #Rams weren't present.— Justin M (@JustinM_NFL) February 1, 2021
Said he had great meetings in particular with the #49ers, #Chargers, #Dolphins (who coached him), #Raiders, #Seahawks, #Steelers, #Falcons, #Bills and #Packers.
Hayes did meet with 31 NFL teams, which isn’t uncommon for players to meet with as many teams as possible, but mentioned the Steelers on his short list of teams he labeled the meeting as “great”.
Before diving into what Hayes can bring to an NFL organization, it should be noted Hayes played a hybrid linebacker role for the Fighting Irish. He wasn’t your standard EDGE pass rusher, and with the way the Steelers’ defense is trending you can see why they would have interest in players like Hayes.
Here is a breakdown of what Hayes does well, and struggles with, heading into the NFL, courtesy of The Draft Network:
EDGE defender Daelin Hayes projects as a hybrid pass rusher in the NFL — the Irish used him frequently in 2020 to stack in a 2-point stance and attack the LOS from tight alignments. He did well here, too — Hayes nearly equaled his career high for a single season with 6 tackles for loss and did tie his career high with 3 sacks on the year. Hayes appeared slimmed down in 2020 and was listed at 258lbs, which allowed him to play with some nice fluidity and smoothness to go along with his length and heavy hands on the edge. Hayes will draw plenty of appeal for his build — he’s ready to step in and contend at the point of attack and his ability to reset blockers and collapse to generate some creases in protection will afford him the chance to serve as a valuable role player in the NFL. Hayes’ ceiling, without further fundamental development, is an early down defender on the LOS who would need several other prominent pieces in an attack style defense to afford him 1v1’s and wins as a pass rusher with any level of consistency. That said, he’s got a clear role to play and could start in the right environment.
Ideal Role: SAM LB
Scheme Fit: 4-3 under front
What do you think of Hayes as a prospect? Would you be okay with the Steelers pulling the trigger on Hayes in the draft? Let us know in the comment section, and be sure to stay tuned to BTSC as the team prepares for the new league year, NFL Free Agency and the 2021 NFL Draft.