Finding an edge rusher opposite of Nick Bosa should be a high priority this offseason for the San Francisco 49ers. Arik Armstead, at his best, rushes from the interior in sub-packages. Who knows how confident the team is with Dee Ford moving forward.
That lack of confidence in Ford factored in with the lack of athleticism on the edge this past season makes it easy to see why San Francisco needs a healthy body who can move on the edge.
Notre Dame’s Daelin Hayes is an edge rusher who met with 31 teams formally at the Senior Bowl, per Justin Melo of the Draft Wire. Hayes said he had great meetings with nine teams, including the 49ers.
Hayes saw his junior season for the Fighting Irish cut short after having season-ending surgery. As a senior, Hayes finished with three sacks, six tackles for loss, an interception, a pass breakup, and two forced fumbles.
Hayes checked in at 6’3, 261 pounds with a wingspan over 80 inches. Hayes has the athleticism you covet for an edge rusher and has shown he can play both inside and out. Here’s a glimpse at the raw power Hayes possesses:
Notre Dame's Daelin Hayes is a BULLY pic.twitter.com/REAVb8aR3J— PFF Draft (@PFF_College) January 27, 2021
During the week of practice at the Senior Bowl, Hayes showcased a “jump-club” move around the edge that helped him get to the quarterback a couple of times:
Notre Dame EDGE Daelin Hayes continued to impress today. He’s going to be one of my first write ups next week. pic.twitter.com/O85ZqKpsrl— Dante Collinelli (@DanteCollinelli) January 28, 2021
Outside of the Senior Bowl, I haven’t watched Hayes. He showed last week that Hayes is a mismatch against tight ends.
Kyle Crabbs of The Draft Network wrote this up about Hayes:
Hayes will draw plenty of appeal for his build — he’s ready to step in and contend at the point of attack and his ability to reset blockers and collapse to generate some creases in protection will afford him the chance to serve as a valuable role player in the NFL. Hayes’ ceiling, without further fundamental development, is an early down defender on the LOS who would need several other prominent pieces in an attack style defense to afford him 1v1’s and wins as a pass rusher with any level of consistency. That said, he’s got a clear role to play and could start in the right environment.
Hayes didn’t land inside of PFF’s top 100. CBS doesn’t have Hayes listed as a prospect. Either Hayes is going to shoot up draft boards after a productive Senior Bowl week, assuming he tests well during his Pro Day, or he’s a Day 3 player that is a project.
Speaking of PFF, Mike Renner is their lead draft analyst and is a Notre Dame alum. I reached out to see what Renner had to say about Hayes. Here’s what he said:
“I think that’s his best/ maybe only fit. He’s a true wide-9 or standup OLB. He’s a solid run defender too despite the size. Worry that he’s just ok athletically and never going to really threaten the edge in the NFL.”
Renner makes it sound as if Hayes is the type of player you draft and develop on Day 3 of the draft.