Though the Los Angeles Chargers' defensive backfield has changed considerably over the past four seasons, one player has remained a presence throughout: cornerback Casey Hayward Jr. The advanced-stats website Pro Football Focus highlighted why Hayward has remained a part of the Chargers' defense for so long, ranking him among the 50 best players in the NFL entering the 2020 season.
Once considered a limited slot corner with debilitating injury concerns during a four-year stint with the Green Bay Packers, Hayward's career blossomed after arriving in Southern California in 2016. In the time since, he has earned multiple Pro Bowl nods and once led the NFL in interceptions (seven in 2016). Hayward has also expanded his role, playing along the boundary regularly in addition to slot work. Few corners have a more consistent track record in recent seasons.
Hayward enters 2020 with a markedly different cast of characters around him than when he first joined the Chargers. The secondary now features All-Pro slot corner Chris Harris Jr., an addition the team made during free agency earlier this year, as well as the healthy return of third-year defensive back Derwin James. Michael Davis and Desmond King expect to compete for playing time at corner while second-year pro Nasir Adderley will attempt to carve out some sort of niche during training camp. Rayshawn Jenkins will enter his second year as the full-time starter at free safety, though he could see more time as a linebacker, according to defensive coordinator Gus Bradley.
Hayward enters 2020 with 22 career interceptions and 92 pass deflections. He has also scored three defensive touchdowns.