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NFL Draft Scouting Report: Brendon Hayes

UCF’s top pass rusher from 2019 chases his dream

Brendan Hayes
Photo: Derek Warden

Our final NFL Draft Scouting Report falls on another defensive stalwart for the Knights:

Brendon Hayes

Brendon Hayes
Photo: Derek Warden

Hayes is another New Orleans product who came to UCF as a three-star in part because of his interest in becoming a mechanical engineer.

After redshirting in 2015, he went on to play 49 games at UCF on the defensive line across four seasons, and made All-AAC Second Team twice. His career bests were 7.5 sacks as a senior in 2019, and 11 tackles for loss in 2018.

Hayes was a quiet leader on the front seven who made the most of his opportunities on the other side of the more-heralded Kenny Turnier. UCF relied more on making big plays on defense (37th in FBS in sacks, 25th in INTs, 1st in TFLs), and Hayes finished 7th in the conference in sacks.


  • Position: Edge Rusher/Defensive Lineman
  • Height: 6’3”
  • Weight: 293 pounds
  • 40: 4.78

Pro Day


Two Good Things

Consistency. Hayes was good enough to play in nearly 50 games in his career, and you don’t do that in a high-impact position unless you have some serious talent, smarts, and in the case of UCF, awesome conditioning.

Size. Brendon is a big dude at 6-3, 293. He might be a candidate to beef up and move inside, given that he’s not spectacularly tall for that position, but he is large and athletic. For example, let’s recall the time he pick-sixed Gardner Minshew at ECU:

Intangibles. Dude gets it. This has to count for something, no?

One Not-so-Good Thing

He never took over games. Usually when you’re looking for a pass rusher, you want a guy who is all over the place and dominates games. Hayes was never that guy, as he recorded only one multi-sack game in his career (two vs. Houston in 2019). But, as you can see, he was solid at his primary job of contain and discipline, as he was against Temple in 2018:

Best-Case NFL Comparison

Leonard Williams, New York Jets. Williams is a guy who hasn’t turned his QB hits into sacks all that much, but is still the kind of guy who causes enough havoc to affect the opposing team’s passing game.

Draft Projection

UDFA. Hayes is still a project for an NFL team, but his maturity and size might get him a look in the free agent market and an opportunity to work his way on to a roster.