Height: 6’5 | Weight: 288 | Ohio State
Pass Rush/Closing ability/Moves and counter moves: Relies on a mixture of speed and strength to beat college blockers. To excel in the NFL, Heyward must learn to counter blockers and/or set them up for secondary moves. Is quick enough off the ball to stun blockers and beat them with his first move. Rarely gets locked up by a single blocker. Gets off chips and punches well, and is strong enough to recover from initial blows. Has good balance and can change direction at full speed.
Pursuit/Lateral movement and agility: One word you hear a lot from coaches and scouts surrounding Heyward is “motor”. He is noted for his hard work and non-stop motor on the football field. Moves down the line of scrimmage well. Has quick feet and is more agile than most interior linemen.
Quickness/Explosion: Shows great explosion off the line of scrimmage. Routinely beats the offensive lineman off the ball. While he has very good burst, his long speed is not at the same level. Is not fast enough to run down ball carriers.
Run defend/Recognition : Over-runs the play at times when trying to get too far up-field. Will “forget” about the run and focus 100% on pressuring the quarterback. Must become more multi-faceted. Does a good job of anchoring and setting the edge against runs. In the past he has shown a good ability to mirror or key running quarterbacks. Has the base to take on double teams, something he has faced weekly since his junior season.
Size/Length/Hand size: Heyward has great height and length for a 3-4 defensive end. He is a little lean for a defensive tackle, which leads us to believe he will be moved outside in the NFL. Heyward does have room to grow. His 6’5 frame can hold much more weight/muscle mass than he is currently carrying. Has terrific extension due to long arms.
Strength/Ability to shed blocks: Does a nice job of using his hands to disengage blockers. Heyward also excels at preventing blockers from getting their hands on him. He has quick instincts and good vision for shedding blocks. His strength is above-average for a player of his size. He does have room to grow as needed for his position in the NFL.
Tackling: Makes the majority of his tackles in traffic. Does show a mean streak and aggression when given an open lane to the ball carrier. Closes well on the ball. Ability to change direction quickly and turn the corner to attack the ball.
Technique/Hand use/Leverage: Heyward’s pass rushing technique leaves something to be desired. Too often he relies on pure athleticism to beat the opposing blocker. Must develop secondary/counter moves. Comes out of his stance too high at times. Does not always attack the blocker. Will get lost against the run at times, but has made major improvements in this area of his game. Can get in a habit of going balls-out after the quarterback, which lets draws and counters run right by him. Must be more aware of the run game.
Versatility: The most versatile defensive lineman in the 2011 NFL Draft class, Heyward has the athleticism and strength to play either defensive end or defensive tackle in multiple fronts. His versatility will make him a very attractive player to teams who value a true “three-down” lineman.
Final Word: A starter since early in his freshman season, Heyward will enter the NFL as one of the most accomplished and experienced defensive linemen in college football. His football pedigree, athleticism and strength make him a high-priority player for NFL front offices. Heyward projects best as a left-end in a 4-3 scheme or as a defensive end in a 3-4 front. Cover 2 defenses will give Heyward a look as an under tackle who shoots the “B” gap and creates pressure on the quarterback.
At this point in his career, Heyward reminds us of Richard Seymour during his college career at Georgia.