After leading the NFL in interceptions in 2017 with seven picks, Casey Hayward entered the 2017 season vying for the unofficial title of the league’s best cornerback.
The Los Angeles Chargers star played well enough to stay in that competition, and moved up five spots to No. 59 on this year’s edition of the NFL Network’s Top 100 player ranking.
Hayward was named All-Pro second team along with Jacksonville cornerback A.J. Bouye, behind first-teamers Jalen Ramsey of the Jaguars and Xavier Rhodes of the Vikings. There are a few other corners that get more mainstream attention than Hayward, such as Washington’s Josh Norman, San Francisco’s Richard Sherman, and the L.A. Rams duo of Aqib Talib and Marcus Peters.
But Hayward has at least one solid claim to being the league’s best at his position: The stat-crunching site Pro Football Focus graded Hayward as the league’s No. 1 overall cornerback and the league’s No. 1 coverage defender last season.
Hayward earned his second straight All-Pro and Pro Bowl nods last season. He made 40 tackles, 22 pass breakups, four interception, a forced fumble and two fumble recoveries. He led the league in lowest completion percentage allowed, at 42 percent. Over the last two seasons, Hayward has led the league with 42 pass breakups.
In the offseason, the Chargers rewarded Hayward with a three-year, $33.2 million contract extension.