Heyward Ready for Big Day
By Brandon Castel
COLUMBUS, Ohio — NFL scouts have been asking about Cameron Heyward since his sophomore season at Ohio State.
Photo by Jim Davidson
Heyward was not even be eligible for the draft until after the following season, but every time one of his teammates sat down with a coach or a scout to talk about their own draft status, Heyward’s name would inevitably come up.
“I hear a lot of positive things, but I’ve been hearing things about Cam since I was getting into the draft,” said one former Buckeye now in the NFL.
“People would ask questions about me and then about five more questions about Cam.”
The son of the late former running back Craig “Ironhead” Heyward has been on the NFL radar since about the time he could walk. It didn’t take long for people to know he was going to be a big boy, and he has grown into an even bigger man.
At 6-5 and nearly 300 pounds, Heyward is an intimidating figure…until he opens his mouth. Although he towers over most others, even on the football field, Heyward’s smile is quick to put others at ease. He might look like a man, but it’s days like today that still make him feel like a kid.
“Day before Christmas!! Only problem is there no way to sneak and see what I got for tomorrow," Heyward posted on his personal Twitter page Wednesday afternoon.
After four seasons of blood, sweat and tears at Ohio State, Heyward will finally follow in his dad’s famous footsteps as a member of the National Football League. With the start of the 2011 NFL draft this evening (8 p.m. ET, ESPN), Heyward will finally get to see what he got for “Christmas” when one of the 32 teams makes him a former Buckeye.
“(I am) just waiting right now and continuing to work out, and just looking to hear my name,” said Heyward, who plans to watch the draft at home with friends and family rather than make the trip to New York.
"Whatever team that takes me, I think I can play any position you put me at.”
During his time at Ohio State, Heyward moved around from strongside defensive end to inside defensive tackle. He was effective at both positions, earning second-team all-Big Ten honors as a junior, and he caught the eye of ESPN analyst and former NFL head coach Jon Gruden.
“You’re getting a guy that can play base defense end in the 3-4, and you’re getting a guy who can rush the passer. Not only as a defensive end, but as a defensive tackle,” said Gruden, who first saw Heyward up-close and personal at the 2010 Rose Bowl.
“Some of his best work is over the guard in nickel situations. He was dominant against (Arkansas left tackle) DeMarcus Love in the Sugar Bowl, I thought. He’s a high effort player. I think he’s a three-down player, and somebody’s going to get physical, hard-playing guy that’s big, and I think only going to get bigger over the next 4-5 years.”
Exactly where he will go is impossible to know, even for Heyward, who said he has spoken to a number of teams since attending the NFL Combine back in February. Because of an injured elbow, Heyward did not do many of the workouts in Indianapolis, but he did run a 4.95 seconds in the 40-yard dash and posted a 35-inch vertical during his private workout on March 30.
ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. is projecting Heyward will be drafted by the New York Jets with the 30th pick in his latest mock draft, but said he could see him going to any of the teams that use a 3-4 defense in the latter half of the first round.
“Cameron Heyward is a real, real good 3-4 defensive end,” Kiper said earlier this month.
“I think he'd fit the New York Jets and certainly the Green Bay Packers. He would fit the Pittsburgh Steelers, the New England Patriots, any of those 3-4 teams is what Heyward would fit ideally.”
Former Buckeye Dick LeBeau was one of the coaches on hand to watch Heyward’s workout mach in March, but there’s no guarantee that he will still be on the board with the Steelers pick at No. 31.
“Over my four years, I think you can look back at my tape and say I'm a first-round pick,” Heyward said.
“But it's not for me to decide. It's for teams to decide.”
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