The first year edge defender already has more refinement to his game than most rookies.
The Baltimore Ravens are deep enough on both offense and defense that they don’t necessarily need many of their rookies to emerge as starters in 2021. Nevertheless, they are still expecting most of them to contribute regularly, at least in rotational roles.
Here is the seventh and final piece in a series breaking down bold predictions for each member of the Ravens’ 2021 rookie class.
OLB Daelin Hayes
Bold prediction: Records more sacks than first-round pick Odafe Oweh.
The Ravens drafted the former member of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish with the second of their three fifth-round picks in this year’s draft and is the only one that made the team. Selected at No. 171 overall, the expectation was that he’d be an ideal backup for Tyus Bowser at the SAM outside linebacker spot and become an immediate contributor on special teams.
Hayes has impressed his teammates, coaches and media members alike since joining the Ravens in early May. He possesses a versatile skillset similar to Bowser’s with the way he can move in space, drop into coverage and rush the passer.
He was the second outside linebacker prospect the Ravens drafted this year, with the first being former Penn State standout Odafe Oweh at No. 31 overall. While Oweh received more hype initially, during the preseason, Hayes was the more impressive of the two as a pass rusher.
No matter what time he entered games, early or late, Hayes consistently generated pressure on opposing quarterbacks and showcased some veteran-like refinement to his game. One of the best and most effective traits that he showed was his ability to bend when he dipped underneath offensive tackles to get what often looked like instant pressure on both quick and longer dropbacks.
Such a beautiful dip move here by Daelin Hayes to get to the quarterback pic.twitter.com/oDzfghPB7q
— Kevin Oestreicher (@koestreicher34) August 16, 2021
Daelin Hayes in his presser reminding people not to sleep on his athleticism and the way he can bend .. pic.twitter.com/pXJSdjfR6Z
— michael crawford (@abukari) September 2, 2021
As you can see, Hayes wastes no time making his presence felt when coming off and around the edge. He has a relentless motor and great backside pursuit when chasing down a play to the opposite side of the field.
According to reports dating back to rookie minicamp, Hayes has been dialed in and soaking up as much knowledge as he can from his coaches and veteran teammates. He has the opportunity to learn from two of the best and most productive active pass rushers in the game in outside linebacker Justin Houston and defensive end Calais Campbell.
Houston in particular seems to have made it his mission to impart as much of his wisdom and tricks of the trade to the Ravens young edge defenders since signing with the team last month. If the preseason was any indication, Hayes has been his star pupil thus far and is implementing his teachings most effectively.
Oweh will still most likely edge out Hayes in terms of defensive snaps because of how impactful he can be stopping the run on early downs. However, Hayes could prove to be the situational pass rusher that many projected the Ravens first round edge defender to be when they selected him.
Depending on the opponent, there might be some weeks when Hayes will be a healthy scratch but when he’s active, I expected him to be in the regular rotation at both SAM and RUSH because he’s capable of performing both duties.
Final stat prediction: 29 total tackles, 6 tackles for loss, 5.5 sacks, 12 quarterback hits, 3 forced fumbles, 4 pass deflections and 1 interception that he returns for a touchdown.