My initial reaction to the selection of William “Big Play” Hayes was not favorable. The Titans gave up two picks to move up in the draft, which I disagreed with at the time.
One thing I didn’t like was uncertainty about Hayes’ weight. He was listed at 250-something on some websites, 270-something on others. The 250-pound range, coupled with the fact that he was a converted linebacker, made me think he might be just another outside speed rusher.
I now feel better after seeing the Titans have him listed on their roster at 272 pounds.
Regular readers of Total Titans know that I’m certainly not one who automatically accepts and believes the company line or the spin which is spewed out by Jeff Fisher and other Titans’ mouthpieces. In this case, Hayes received praise from people other than Jeff Fisher and Mike Reinfeldt and my doubts were partially assuaged. Especially when Jim Washburn and Jevon Kearse were two of the people excited about him.
Here’s what Reinfeldt said about moving up 21 spots to select Hayes:
“Well, I think what happens there is you have time to reflect and we felt in the fourth round that there was a chance to get a player that we felt could have huge upside and use a pick to go up and get that guy at defensive end. You talk about that as a group, the coaches, the scouts. You give up the pick and you go get the guy.”
Jeff Fisher said that while many fans didn’t know who Hayes was, every d-line coach in the league knew who he was, which was part of the reason Tennessee moved up to get Hayes — they were afraid he’d be gone if they stayed where they were.
Fisher also said,
“We feel like William can come in and help us immediately at the end position. Despite the fact that he came from a smaller school, he has some skills that are rare — his hand use, his explosion, his quickness, his effort, his change of direction. We feel like William can help us right off the bat and the end position.”
“He had a good workout and he has natural skills. I dont care what level he played on. He stands out as far as his hand skills and the things he does, leverage.”
“I just like him. He can fly. Really strong. He’s got unique physical qualities. Everybody thought, ‘Wow, what a reach.’ They had no clue.”
Jevon Kearse said a few weeks ago that one of the reasons he was excited about returning to Tennessee was the chance to play with Hayes.
I’m feeling a lot better now about this pick, now that I know he has good size for a 4-3 defensive end and because Washburn and Kearse like him. I’m looking forward to seeing him in training camp in July. We’ll just have to wait and see how it goes from there.