I continue to break down the 2008 draft class; next on the list is the 6th round pick, Geno Hayes. Hayes, the 6’1”, 226 lb. linebacker out of FSU, came into a very tough situation, filling the shoes of Derrick Brooks (not the easiest situation to walk into).
Hayes came to the Bucs and in 2008 appeared in only 9 games, totaling 11 tackles and 2 assist, mostly playing on special teams. But in 2009, he took over the right linebacker position and did not disappoint the coaches or fans. He totaled 80 tackles, 3 sacks, 2 interceptions, and 1 fumble forced. He was constantly near the ball, always seeming to make the play or help somehow.
Hayes is a bit undersized for his position (height), but is a sound tackler on the field and has a great burst off the line. He plays tough in the box, able to get off blocks and hit the runner, or he can play in pass coverage, using his good lateral speed and explosive first step to keep up in routes. He can line up with a running back or tight end, play the box, anything the coaches ask him to, a nice player to have on the field at any time.
Hayes took over a tough situation, taking the job over for the great veteran Derrick Brooks (big shoes for anyone to fill). Hayes has done well so far, considering his age and the talent around him. He has a lot to learn, but it comes with time and experience at this level. He has the talent and IQ to take the position over for a long time, it should be interesting to see how he progresses in the years to come. He will anchor the right linebacker position for a long time with his talent and play making ability.
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