Should we expect big plays from William Hayes in 2009?

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There’s an age-old axiom that states, “He who laughs last, laughs best.”

Are you listening, Mel Kiper?

On draft day in 2008, Kiper ridiculed the Tennessee Titans for trading up to select little-known Winston Salem State DE William “Big Play” Hayes in the fourth round. Hayes, who wasn’t even invited to the combine that year, was rated as Kiper’s 66th best DE prospect in the ’08 draft.

Kiper may have laughed that day, but it’s the Titans who should be bursting into laughter now. Despite some early-season struggles, by the end of 2008, Hayes displayed signs of becoming a pretty good player down the road.

Will Hayes continue to improve in 2009?  

As his rookie year unfolded, Hayes experienced a ton of growing pains in his attempt to make the transition from playing in the MEAC to adjusting to life in the NFL.

In training camp, Hayes often found himself serving as defensive line coach Jim Washburn’s whipping boy. On more than a few occasions, the rookie DE was the recipient of profanity-laced tirades courtesy of Washburn.

During the early stages of last year, Hayes failed to make much of an impact. His playing time curtailed as a result of not being ready to contribute at the NFL level, Hayes was unable to live up to his “Big Play” moniker.

Despite his troubles, Hayes saved his best for last as he was finally able to become a contributor on the Titan defense. In his final three games, Hayes registered a total of seven tackles and one sack. His best showing was a three-tackle, one-sack performance in the Titans’ win over the eventual Super Bowl Champion Steelers.

In 2009, Hayes is poised to continue his development into a solid DE in this league. The guy starting over him, Jevon Kearse, isn’t getting any younger, so it should only be a matter of time before William’s time as a starter arrives.

In the meantime, I expect Hayes to continue to develop into a solid contributor in the Titans’ defensive end rotation. In addition to increased playing time, I’m also hopeful that Hayes will emerge as a rather frequent source of big plays in the form of sacks, tackles for losses and forced fumbles.

Who’s laughing now, Mel Kiper?   

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8 Responses to “Should we expect big plays from William Hayes in 2009?”

  1. bobcomu Says:

    While I think he is an idiot most of the time, Mel was right to laugh. It’s not so much that Hayes cant become a solid player as they traded up to get a player who would have been there later in that round, if not the next round. It’s kind of like the Raiders this year taking Heyward-Bay, it wasn’t the fact that he wont be a good wr that had everyone laughing its that he would have been available later had they chosen to trade down. Its all about value at the spot, why give up a pick if you don’t have too?
    Hopefully he will become a major contributor in the D-line rotation this year as well as the coming years.

  2. Morgan_Washburn Says:

    Thats the thing about the draft, everyone holds their pick so tight right up until they draft that its a mystery on where they will go. Everyone has their Mayock rankings, but he isn’t a perfectly working machine that knows this stuff for sure. Look at Mike Mitchell, the second round pick by Oakland. They laughed when they took him, but why is it so funny that Oakland takes him when the Bears were going to take him two picks later. Value at the spot is what the team rates the players not these wanabee draft guru’s. Every team has a certian playstyle and sceme where you can find players projected less that will turn out better for your team and not another.

  3. Bob Loblaw Says:

    I don’t have a problem with moving up to get a guy you really like, especially by the middle rounds. The Titans’ roster has gotten a little deeper each year since it bottomed out in ’05, so why not trade up to make sure you get who you want rather than maybe getting two guys who you don’t like as much. I remember hearing last year that the Colts and several other teams were interested in Hayes, just as Mitchell had several other teams interested this year.
    Morgan is right about draft boards varying from team to team. The variance is greater in later rounds than in early rounds, so you risk losing the guy you want. Just look at pre-draft ratings of guys the Titans got in the mid rounds. Mouton was rated between 3rd round and late round/FA. Kropog was 2nd/3rd to LR/FA. McRath was 3rd to 5th, Ringer 3rd round to LR/FA. King was rated 3rd to 5th and didn’t get drafted.
    If you trade up, use only 4 picks, and nail all four, you’ve had a good draft. If you use 8 or 10 and hit on 4, same result. Reinfeldt has done a nice job of putting this roster together, so I would give him the benefit of the doubt.

  4. steve Says:

    i think i will wait to see if hayes can make some more of those “big plays” before i start calling out mel kiper. i will at least wait until he has a 6 to 8 sack season. granted, he started finding a groove towards the end of last season, but hes got plenty more to learn. dont get me wrong though, i got high hopes for this guy this year. i hope he becomes the “freak” part 2!!! i definately agree this guy has a heck of an upside and shows lots of potential…but i want to see those “big” plays turn into “HUGE” plays!!!

  5. Drexel Perry Says:

    As always, thanks for chiming in with your thoughts guys.
    As you can tell, I’m pumped about William’s potential so hopefully, as Steve suggests, he can turn those big plays into huge ones in 2009.

  6. Johnathan Says:

    Does a guy have to be a star for it to be said he was worthy of a 4th rounder? I mean, he wasn’t a top pick, so becoming a solid role-player and contributor would make him worth a 4th rounder. That’s just my opinion, though…

  7. Kevine Musagi Says:

    Hayes will be a pro bowler for years to come. And if Tennesse wouldnt have got him when they did, trust me somebody would have picked him up immediately. Mel Kiper is not God, what he says is not always right. This kid looked better than Vernon Gholston and Chris Long late in the season. Trust me if this kid would have went to an elite d-1a school, he would have been a first day pick. Hayes is a freak of nature with a great work ethic. Look out

  8. Defensive End: The Tennessee Titans’ biggest draft need? « Total Titans Says:

    […] continued development of William “Big Play” Hayes, who, contrary to Mel Kiper’s anything but lofty expectations, appears to be headed towards establishing himself as a pretty solid player in this league. […]

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