Undrafted CB Kaleb Hayes making a strong impression in Jaguars training camp

• The Jaguars have options at the nickel position. One of them is Kaleb Hayes, who was given a favorable shot at make their 53-roster after a couple solid performances in training camp.
Jun 13, 2023; Jacksonville, Florida, USA;  Jacksonville Jaguars defensive back Kaleb Hayes (43).
Jun 13, 2023; Jacksonville, Florida, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars defensive back Kaleb Hayes (43). / Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

Finding a slot cornerback was a top priority for the Jacksonville Jaguars this past offseason. But instead of making a splash signing or investing an early-round pick in the position, they waited until Day 3 to add a handful of players. Also, they signed Kaleb Hayes, who's given favorable odds of making the Jags' 53-man roster.

Kristopher Knox of Bleacher Report came up with a list of the undrafted free agents that have the best chance to latch onto each NFL team and picked Hayes for Jacksonville, citing his athleticism and ideal traits for the position. Knox then adds that he's had a productive training camp and if he can build on that, it will be hard for the Jaguars to leave him out of the final roster.

"Hayes brings a nice combination of production (26 passes defended in four seasons) and athletic upside. The 5'11", 194-pound corner recorded a 4.31-second 40-yard dash, a 40-inch vertical and 17 reps of the 225-pound bench press at his pro day.

If Hayes can continue building on what has been an impressive early camp—he's recorded multiple interceptions during 11-on-11 drills, according to Eugene Frenette of the Florida Times-Union—he'll be hard to keep out of the defensive rotation."

Hayes started his collegiate career at Oregon State before transferring to BYU, where he went on to appear in 23 games. A three-star recruit out of high school, Hayes made a strong impression at BYU's Pro Day. However, it wasn't enough to get his name called in the draft. In Jacksonville, he joins a group that includes fellow rookies Antonio Johnson, Christian Braswell and Erick Hallet II, all of whom are vying for a roster spot ahead of the 2023 season.

Kaleb Hayes faces an uphill battle to make the Jaguars final roster in 2023

As Knox pointed out, Hayes has the size and length to thrive in the slot. However, he needs to optimize his movement in short areas and do a better job of tracking the football. On top of that, the Jags have lots of options at the position, so he might have the lowest probability of making the team.

Besides having to compete with the other rookies, sophomore Gregory Junior and Montaric Brown have made strides in training camp and could have the edge by virtue of having a better grasp of the Jaguars' defensive scheme.

Having said that, it's too soon to rule out Hayes. It's true that he went undrafted and has an uphill battle to make the cut but he's putting in the work to get consideration. The California native has been an early bird in training camp and has been recorded being the first player to show up to practice, something the team's brass has surely taken notice of this.

Moreover, Hayes earned praise from star wide receiver Calvin Ridley for picking sophomore Kevin Austin Jr. in practice. So far, Hayes has registered two interceptions and it wouldn't be shocking to see him keep earning reps in the remaining days of training camp.

Knox has been tracking Hayes since he signed with the Jaguars. And based on his performance in Jaguars training camp, maybe it's time everyone keeps an eye on him. At this point, nothing is stopping him from being on the active roster when Jacksonville takes on the Indianapolis Colts in the opener.

Here are other recent Jaguars stories you might also like: