The Tampa Bay Buccaneers used the sixth-round pick (182nd overall) they acquired when they traded down in the fourth round with the Minnesota Vikings to select Portland State outside linebacker Adam Hayward.
“I started crying because I didn’t believe it,” Hayward said when he was asked what his reaction was to being drafted. “I was looking at the clock and I saw Tampa was up there and I felt like I was going to go there. Then I saw my phone ringing. They put me through to Coach Gruden and I lost it. He said, ‘You’re a Tampa Bay Buccaneer’ and he was excited. He needs me to fly around and make plays.”
Hayward, who had a private visit with the Bucs at One Buccaneer Place earlier this offseason, is the second outside linebacker the Bucs have selected in the 2007 NFL Draft. The Bucs used their third-round pick to select New Mexico’s Quincy Black.
The 6-foot, 235-pound Hayward is considered a prototype Cover 2 linebacker. The former track star possesses great speed (4.42 40-yard dash) and cover skills.
In addition to his speed and athleticism, Hayward possesses great strength, evidenced by the fact that he bench pressed 225 pounds 23 times. He also has a 36-inch vertical jump.
Hayward played six different positions (running back, free and strong safety, and strongside, weakside and middle linebacker) and wore five different jersey numbers en route to establishing himself as one of the best linebackers at the Division 1-AA level.
“Out of high school I went to Colorado State on a full-ride scholarship,” said Hayward. “They put me at safety. I had never played safety before, but I learned it and played a little bit my freshman year and playing on special teams. Then my sophomore year, I was playing safety. Towards the end, I switched positions. They switched me to running back. That was okay, I just had to get comfortable carrying the ball again. They wanted to use my speed. As I was going through that, it was difficult. Then I went through a family problem and kind of had to deal with that. That took my focus away from football. I spent a year away from football. Then I decided I wanted to play again and that’s what brought me to Portland State.
‘I can play any position and I’m going to do whatever I need to do to help the team and get on the field and make plays.”
As a senior, Hayward earned consensus All-American and unanimous All-Big Sky Conference honors and was named the league’s Defensive Player of the Year by notching 104 tackles (56 solo), 9.5 sacks and 16.5 tackles for a loss. He also caused three fumbles and recovered one loose ball while defending seven passes.
Hayward started 11 of the 22 games he played in at Portland State, recording 123 tackles (66 solos), 11 sacks, 19 tackles for a loss, four forced fumbles and seven passes defensed.
Now that he’s a Buccaneer, Hayward is ready to learn behind behind Tampa Bay’s veteran players, including 10-time Pro Bowler Derrick Brooks, whom he grew up idolizing.
“Back in my dorm room at Portland State, I had pictures of Derrick Brooks up,” said Hayward. “I try to base my play on him and how he flies around everywhere and makes plays. It’s just kind of crazy that I’m actually going to be getting advice from an amazing linebacker.”
Tampa Bay has used six of its first seven draft picks on defensive players (DE Gaines Adams, S Sabby Piscitelli, LB Quincy Black, S Tanard Jackson, DL Greg Peterson and Hayward).
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