Pittsburgh Draft Preview: Cameron Heyward | DE | Ohio State

Name: Cameron Heyward

School: Ohio State Buckeyes

Position: Defensive End

Height: 6’6”

Weight: 288 lbs.

40 Yard Dash: 4.92

Projected Round: 1-2

Cameron Heyward, son of Craig ‘Ironhead’ Heyward, is a big, bruising defensive end that played at THE Ohio State University under Jim Tressel, and was the bookend to a Pittsburgh Steelers draft choice from last year – Thaddeus Gibson, who was claimed on waivers by the San Francisco 49ers.

Heyward, is quite simply put – strong. But, he sacrifices strength for speed, and is going to have trouble chasing down ball carriers at the next level. He’s never going to be an elite NFL pass rusher, so 4-3 defensive end is out of the question, but in Dick LeBeau’s 3-4 defensive scheme, the defensive ends do not have to get to the quarterback to earn their paychecks.

The Steelers still have elite 3-4 defensive end Aaron Smith under contract for next season, but, he’s only played in 38 of the last 64 games. We all love Smith to death, trust me, I know. But, realistically, he can’t be relied upon, and that’s not his fault. He’s getting older, and his body is wearing down. Ziggy Hood did a great job filling in and certainly has the potential to have a great Steelers career, but he can’t play on both sides at once.

On the other side of the defensive line (after traversing Mt. Hampton) Brett Keisel is going to be 33 next season, and it’s never too early to bring in some young talent, especially from the rotational standpoint, which served the defensive line well this year, allowing the older, bigger guys to get breathers while the younger, fresher guys came in and played admirably.

Heyward has the ability to stand blockers up and create a standstill on the line of scrimmage, and due to his quick initial step, he can create and hold the edge against bigger linemen, something that is absolutely essential to playing in LeBeau’s defense. In a scheme where the outside linebacker will blitz well over 50% of the time, the defensive end has to be able to contain, be able to force the ball carrier to cut back inside where the linebackers can make a play.

His work ethic is very, very good, and he has the physical tools and knowledge of the game to not only recognize plays as they develop, but also the ability to stop plays dead in the backfield.

On the other side of things, though, his speed is definitely an issue. Even at the five technique in the NFL, you’re still giving up too much speed for my liking running a near five second 40 yard dash (in comparison, I ran a 4.6 junior year of high school…as a defensive end). And, while his work ethic is very good in the weight room, when he doesn’t get a hot start early in a game, he shows a tendency to take the game off. He is known for having a great motor on him, and this is a very coachable problem to fix.

Another issue that we’ve seen with former draft picks and current NFL players is that he doesn’t play ‘as big as he is’. What that means is that he simply stops trying to power offensive linemen and seems to get into ‘finesse mode’ if you’ve got the strength and the bulk to boot, take your foot off the brakes and hit the gas, so to speak.

His hips are a little stiff, but he’s fairly athletic for weighing nearly 300 pounds, though, in the NFL, the offensive linemen are also more athletic, and strong, and, and, and, you know the drill.

To succeed at the NFL level, he’s going to have to play for a team with a great defensive coach, who will find a way to light a fire under him and keep his motor running so that worrying about him taking games off won’t become a factor. Should he be drafted by a team that runs a 4-3 defense, he is projected to move to defensive tackle, where he does have experience, to make better use of his frame.

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~ by Steel Hurtin on February 15, 2011.

6 Responses to “Pittsburgh Draft Preview: Cameron Heyward | DE | Ohio State”

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Steel Hurtin', Steel Hurtin'. Steel Hurtin' said: Pittsburgh Draft Preview: Cameron Heyward | DE | Ohio State: http://t.co/WyqpHjF #steelers #nfldraft #ohiostate #nfl #steelhurtin […]

  2. I wouldn’t mind picking him in the second round if CB hasn’t been addressed.

  3. […] READ THE REST HERE […]

  4. He would be an interesting pick. I thought he was dominant in the Sugar Bowl against some pretty good talent. With him along the DL, we’d be younger and more athletic immediately and I’ve always believed that you need ends in a 3-4 that can get to the passer as well as they can contain.

  5. […] Cameron Heyward | DE | Ohio State […]

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