Ryan Hayes is an intriguing draft prospect because of the presumed position switch he will have to make in the NFL. With the Michigan Wolverines, he was an overly reliable left tackle with excellent technique and hands who helped guide Michigan’s big uglies to consecutive Joe Moore Awards.
At the next level, Hayes projects as a guard because of his slighter frame (298 pounds), average athleticism, and shorter arms (32.5 inches). According to the NFL Mock Draft Database, the consensus expects Hayes to be selected in the fifth round.
Hayes will be selected as a depth-providing player a team can develop into a contributor. Given his run-blocking acumen, expect a team with a power-running philosophy to select the Traverse City native.
Here are three likely landing spots for Hayes in the NFL.
Despite losing both their coordinators, the Super Bowl runners-up are not changing their team identity. This is a team built on physicality in the trenches on both sides of the ball.
The Eagles are a smash-first attack that likes to use a plethora of different schemes to establish the run. However, with this approach, injuries are a factor and even more so considering this is an aging offensive line.
Hayes could provide depth while learning from the best offensive line coach and savvy veterans until he completes his transition to guard. Moreover, the Eagles have shown an ability to develop later-round picks (Jason Kelce, Jordan Mailata) as easily as earlier ones.
While the Eagles have no middle-round picks (Rounds 3-6), general manager Howie Roseman is a candidate to trade down, acquire more capital, and select Hayes somewhere in the fifth and sixth rounds.
Speaking of the Eagles, ex-Eagles offensive coordinator Shane Steichen is now the man in charge of rebuilding the Colts into a respectable franchise, and Steichen will want to solidify the trenches to fit his run-first approach.
The Colts have needs across the board and while quarterback and corner are the most pressing, Steichen and general manager Chris Ballard will look to sprinkle in offensive line picks throughout this draft. With five draft picks in the later rounds (three in the fifth, two in the seventh) the Colts could target a player like Hayes to groom into an interior offensive lineman and future contributor.
With the help and guidance of guard Quenton Nelson, Hayes could learn from one of the best and expedite his positional transition.
San Francisco 49ers
The 49ers’ first draft pick is not until pick No. 99 thanks to Trey Lance and Christian McCaffrey. However, San Francisco has 11 picks in the NFL Draft, including eight picks between rounds five and seven. With needs on the offensive line and in the secondary, the 49ers could select Hayes to mold to fit their run-heavy style.
Hayes did not have a stellar combine, but the former basketball star has untapped athletic potential he could reach in head coach Kyle Shanahan’s system. A team synonymous with the injured reserve, Hayes could immediately offer a matured depth presence as he gains his bearings in the NFL.