Undrafted CB Kaleb Hayes given favorable chance to make Jaguars 53-man roster

Brigham Young v Boise State
Brigham Young v Boise State / Loren Orr/GettyImages

Tyson Campbell and Darious Williams sit at the top of the Jacksonville Jaguars' cornerback depth chart while Tre Herndon is slated to begin the 2023 season in the slot. However, there are several spots up for grabs, which is why Kristopher Knox of Bleacher Report thinks undrafted free agent Kaleb Hayes has a legitimate shot to make the Jags' 53-man roster.

Knox recently drew up a list of every team's undrafted free agent with the best chance to make the roster and Hayes was his pick for Jacksonville, citing the Jaguars' need to bolster their secondary and the former BYU Cougar's athletic upside.

"The Brigham Young product is a 5'11", 194-pound corner who produced a 4.31-second 40-yard dash, a 40-inch vertical, and 17 reps of the 225-pound bench press at his pro day. That's an athletic profile with which defensive coordinator Mike Caldwell can work. However, Hayes isn't only bringing upside to Jacksonville. He was a sticky cover man in college who logged an impressive 26 pass breakups in four seasons at BYU and Oregon State."

A high school quarterback, Hayes switched to cornerback at Oregon State. He sat out the 2020 season due to the COVID pandemic and transferred to BYU in 2021. He ended up appearing in 25 games the last two years, leading the Cougars in passes defensed both seasons.

Hayes has the size and athletic skills to play cornerback in the NFL. However, he will need to work on his route recognition and refine his tackling skills in the upcoming months if he wants to stick around in Jacksonville. Here's a clip of Hayes talking about his athletic display at his Pro day and how he's got a chip on his shoulder for not partaking in many events during the pre-draft process.

The Jacksonville Jaguars must sort out the cornerback depth chart in training camp

Cornerback was among the Jaguars' top needs to choose to address it until Day 3 of the draft with Antonio Johnson (Round 5) and Christian Braswell (Round 6). Johnson often played nickel at Texas A&M, so he could get a few reps in the slot despite the fact that head coach Doug Pederson said that he'll play safety for the Jaguars.

Whether Johnson ends up getting a tryout at nickel or not, Braswell will join a crowded cornerback group that includes Gregory Junior, Montaric Brown, Tevaughn Campbell, and Chris Claybooks. All of them will be vying for three roster spots in 2023.

Like Braswell, Hayes could be entering a wide-open race for a handful of roster spots, and the truth is that they have a realistic host at seizing one. Claybrooks has been a core contributor on special teams the past season but he's entering a contract year and legal issues could hamper his chances of making the team. Junior and Brown are both entering their sophomore campaign but neither has shown enough to get extended playing time. Last but not least is Campbell, who appeared in five games last year but could be shown the door if he doesn't show out in training camp.

Those roster spots might come down to who will bring the most to the table. After all, you want the players on the bottom of your roster to play on special teams and if Hayes flashes talent at cornerback but also carves a niche on special teams, his chances of making the roster next season will increase.

Although undrafted free agents have a steep hill to climb to play in the NFL, many have pulled out the feat through perseverance and hard work. Hayes is no different. He'll have the chance to prove he deserves a roster spot with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

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