Continuing my series on the Packers most likely picks w/ the 32nd overall selection in the NFL draft... He enters the NFL draft after a highly productive college career in the Big 10. He is a player who fits a team and scheme need and is generally considered among the top 30-45 prospects.
Cameron Heyward is a 6'5" 295 lb DE from Ohio St... Heyward was a 3 yr starter at OSU and possesses prototypical size for a 34 DE. He enters the NFL ready to play and will need limited developmental time. However, he also doesn't have the upside of a Watt or Jordan. Basically, he is the opposite of Muhammad Wilkerson, who has excellent long term potential but needs alot more time to develop. The son of former NFL player Craid "Ironhead" Heyward, Cameron is looking to create his own legacy apart from his father (god rest his soul). He has excellent versatility and has played all over the DL for the Buckeyes. He has the strength, athleticism and effort needed to contribute early in his rookie season, needing only to gain 10-15 lbs and brush up on some technical aspects before becoming a full-time starter.
Heyward has very good athleticism and terrific length as a 34 DE. He uses his length, good quickness and agility to get a jump of the ball in pass rush. But is not a player who will ever be able to threaten the edge. He will get some sacks, but they will come thru hard work and determination, not elite ability as a pass rusher. Heyward is a difficult matchup for OG's using his long arms and agility inside to gain seperation from the Gaurd to pressure the QB, but has trouble with OT, where his arms and hands aren't as effective in seperating or as advantageous. When rushing inside he can also be disruptive in passing lanes due to his long arms.
When playing the run, Heyward plays with power, gets a good push to collapse and hold the edge. He is very good in gap discipline and attacks the ball when its in his area.. Due to his height and length he is susceptible to cut blocks and has to learn to use his hands and long arms better to keep blockers off his legs. Though able to play both sides, Heyward projects best as a LDE in a 34 because of his ability to hold the point vs double teams and when allowed to he can even get penetration vs doubles. Heyward is well suited and able to eat up blockers using leverage and anchor to hold up at the LOS. He is a better player when attacking the ball as opposed to chasing it.
Overall Heyward has above average strength, power, length and athletic ability to become a good 34 DE. He lacks in the change of direction ability to become a great pass rusher and it will limit him chasing vs the run. Heyward is a strong tackler and uses his long arms very well to latch on, wrap up and bring the runner down. He can be an explosive tackler also. As a comparison, Heyward has Marcus Spears written all over him. He is a perfect 34 DE prospect who will do his job very well, but don't expect anything like Richard Seymour production or playmaking. He will be a very solid player and contrubutor, but will never post gaudy numbers. Heyward is well liked by teammates, was a team captain and appears to really have fun playing the game and making it fun for teammates!
Are you willing to draft Heyward at #32, even tho he isn't going to be a playmaker? Or would you rather have Wilkerson who has more upside, but will take much longer to develop? Wilkerson may not be available at 32, but chances are very good that Heyward will be there for the taking if you want him.