The days following the draft are filled with tremendous hope and hype where fans and pundits like to predict and project big rookie seasons for everyone. However, that is often not the case because making the jump from college to the pros can be steep and sometimes arduous one for first year players to make right away.
With that in mind, here’s the eighth and final in a series of articles that detail realistic year one expectations for each member of the Baltimore Ravens 2021 draft class:
OLB Daelin Hayes
Round 5 No. 171
The former member of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish was a traditional day three Ravens pick who did it all in college on his respective side of the ball. Despite not having gaudy production, Hayes projects to be better in the pros in the right system. He is an ideal fit for an outside linebacker in the Ravens hybrid 3-4 scheme, particular at the SAM spot.
His underrated and sneaky ability to drop into coverage will make him a great backup for Tyus Bower as a rookie. We could even see some instances where they are both on the field at the same time, with one or both dropping into coverage from the line of scrimmage to disguise a schemed pressure from elsewhere.
Defensive Coordinator Don ‘Wink’ Martindale had that schematic flexibility with Bowser and Matthew Judon the previous two seasons and could continue to have it if Hayes picks up the complex playbook and catches on quickly.
“I feel like I’m as versatile of a defensive player in this draft as anyone,” Hayes said. “For me, it’s just about that consistency with pass rush. That’s going to come with more reps. Obviously, I’m going to be able to learn.”
That’s easier said than done but expect to see Hayes playing a lot on special teams in year one. He could work his way into a regular rotational role on defense and possibly even some sub-package snaps on passing downs.