Cameron Heyward equally confounding as he is captivating

Cameron Heyward closes in on Marshall quarterback Brian Anderson in a Sept. 2 game. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)

He's got the quickness at the snap to get after the quarterback, but the strength be a terror against the run. He is an oversized defensive end who can easily slide inside to tackle. He plays with a lot of aggression and is the defense's leader. His father had almost mythical status in the NFL.

He is Ohio State defensive lineman Cameron Heyward. Or wait, is he former Virginia star Chris Long?


Against Miami today, Heyward was clearly a star. His stat line of four tackles with one for a loss doesn't properly define the game Heyward had. He was disruptive throughout the game, lining up and end and tackle. At times he took up two blockers. At others, he was collapsing the pocket around quarterback Jacory Harris.

Then there was that 80-yard interception return. Can this monster of a prospect really play the zone blitz?

So could Long. And much like Long, Heyward is seemingly a man without a position. If he plays in a 4-3, is he strictly a tackle? Or is Heyward, at 285 pounds, only a 3-4 end?

It's the same lack of a definable position that has stunted Long's career as a St. Louis Ram.

Like Long, Heyward doesn't have the best closing speed rushing the passer. He's also not an optimum athlete who can simply blow by offensive tackles. Nor does he have the technique to gain leverage on a consistent basis. Heyward also doesn't have quite the size to consistently stay inside as defensive tackle on an every-down basis.

But for as many similarities as Heyward has to Long, his ceiling comparison is still Richard Seymour. With the increased usage of the 3-4 defense, Heyward could still get picked in the top five of the 2011 draft. After all, the Chiefs took Tyson Jackson third overall in 2009. Much like Long in St. Louis, though, that remains a work in progress.
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