Hayward excels in front of scouts

Ever since he held the smooth leather of a pigskin for the first time, Adam Hayward knew he wanted to play football on Sundays.

Ever since he held the smooth leather of a pigskin for the first time, Adam Hayward knew he wanted to play football on Sundays. After a pre-draft workout last Thursday where the former Portland State linebacker stunned over 40 scouts with a blazingly fast 4.52-second 40-yard dash, his dream of lacing it up in the NFL is more probable than ever.

On paper the 6-foot, 230-pound Hayward enjoyed a collegiate career only conjured up in a dream. At the conclusion of his senior season he was flooded with hardware, collecting a first-team Associated Press All-American selection, Big Sky Conference Defensive Player of the Year award and fourth place finish in voting for the Buck Buchanan Award, given to the best defensive player in Division I-AA.

In reality, the Westminster, CA. native endured a rocky ride to his spectacular senior season and eventual head-turning antics at workouts. Just as Hayward began his junior season at Colorado State, his mother, Pauline, lost her lengthy bout with cancer. After a short separation from the game he loves following his mother’s passing, Hayward transferred to Portland State, where he continued his pursuit of playing in the pro ranks.

“Making it to the NFL has been a lifelong dream of mine. If you ask anyone who has known me my entire life, they will tell you that’s all I have ever talked about growing up and playing the sport for 12-plus years,” said Hayward.

With the NFL Draft unfolding in New York City on April 28 and 29, Hayward continues inching closer to his ultimate dream. Thus far, he helped his cause by being tremendously successful at pre-draft workouts.

At Portland State’s Pro Day last month, he scampered to a 4.48 40-yard time in front of scouts from Tampa Bay, Seattle, Kansas City and San Francisco. His most recent taste of success came with many more eyes watching as the fleet-footed linebacker put on a show last Thursday, impressing over 40 NFL scouts and undoubtedly boosting his draft stock with the fastest time of the day.

“I actually wasn’t sure if I was going to run or not. Then a Green Bay scout wanted to see me run. So, I got warmed up and ran a 40. When I crossed the line, the scouts came together, went over the time and asked me if I could run it again. After I ran again, they got excited and put me through more workouts. As I went through drills, more and more scouts came over and wanted to talk,” said Hayward.

Hayward and his cohorts hope his speedy 40-yard dash times of 4.52 and 4.54, and scheduled visits with the Seahawks, Buccaneers and Giants in subsequent weeks will be enough to propel him into the late rounds of this year’s NFL Draft.

“His performance on Thursday absolutely boosted his draft stock. He had already done well for the few scouts he ran for on campus where he ran a 4.48, which is unheard of for his height and weight. Then [in Carson, CA.] he had a fantastic day. What it does is make the teams watch additional film, and that is really the deeper process of the draft,” said his agent, Derrick Fox. “Everyone I have talked to agrees he is really the talk right now. I would be really surprised if Adam isn’t a sixth or seventh rounder.”

The former Viking defender, who wreaked havoc on Big Sky foes this past season, has gone a long way to appear a sure late-round selection, but hasn’t accomplished this alone. Sure, he ran his 40-yard dashes unassisted and completed every other workout devoid of a helping hand, but he has admittedly “picked apart” those who have come before him.

“He has been asking me about certain drills and what to expect when he comes to the NFL, and what he should learn as a linebacker in the NFL. I told him it is faster paced. You have to read run-pass, you can’t always bite on play-action and should just be relentless. Just play ball. The smartest man always wins. So don’t think too much, use your god-given ability,” said former Viking wide receiver Shaun Bodiford.

Regardless of whether Hayward is selected in the draft, Bodiford has faith that he has a future fulfilling his dream of playing on Sundays.

“He is in there; he has a foot in the door. We all know he is getting into a camp, it just depends on what he does when he gets there,” said Bodiford, currently with Green Bay. “When he gets to a camp, he just needs to play ball and make plays. He needs to create film, because film doesn’t lie. Teams can’t deny film. If you made film for yourself and that team doesn’t pick you up, then you’re campaigning for the rest of the teams.”

Already enduring one season at the highest level, Bodiford knows Hayward has a lot of grueling, taxing days ahead of him.

“I told him to be mentally prepared when he comes to the NFL. It’s vigorous, it’s grueling. It wears on your body. You have to be mentally strong if you really want to do this because it’s a job from four in the morning to seven at night. Then you have to do it again the next day,” said Bodiford.

Hayward has made his case to NFL scouts, opening their eyes with blistering 40-yard dash times and a host of collegiate honors. Now, it is a waiting game until draft day, where he will find out whether he has done enough for his dream to come true.

“My preparation has been tiring. It has almost killed me mentally working out everyday for four or five hours to get ready for a couple shots at something I have been working on my whole life,” said Hayward. “Draft day really depends on my situation. But, I’m probably just going to go out to my older brother’s house to watch the draft and hang out.”