To the average fan, offensive line play is the least exciting part of football. The viewer is drawn to the ball and what ultimately happens to the ball on a given play. But the work in the trenches is what truly makes it happen. It’s about imposing your will. It’s about setting a tone. And with his NFL Draft scouting report, few players set the tone better than Oklahoma G Marquis Hayes.
Marquis Hayes NFL Draft Profile
- Position: Guard
- School: Oklahoma
- Current Year: Redshirt senior
- Height: 6’4 3/4″
- Weight: 318 pounds
- Wingspan: 83 1/2
- Length: 35 1/2
- Hand: 8 3/4
Marquis Hayes Scouting Report
There’s been no shortage of Oklahoma offensive linemen to enter the NFL in recent years. Dating back to dominators like Trent Williams, the Sooners have always had a knack for developing offensive line talent. Just this past offseason, Creed Humphrey went to the Chiefs in Round 2 and quickly became one of the best blockers in the league.
Oklahoma is quietly an OL factory, and there’s another exciting prospect hailing from Norman in the 2022 NFL Draft. Hayes comes to the fold as a three-year starter with experience, but how does he project as an NFL Draft prospect? Here’s a look at his traits and how they translate to the next level.
Hayes’ athletic profile
Hayes isn’t an elite athletic specimen, but he does have some enticing physical traits. Listed at 6’5″, 324 pounds, Hayes is a hulking behemoth on the offensive line.
He has great natural power, and his full extensions can knock defenders off their base and pave open lanes. He also has good functional strength and can generate displacement with relative ease. Hayes has the core strength and upper-body torque to relocate defenders when he has superior leverage.
With his size, Hayes outmuscles and walls off defenders as a run blocker. When he lowers his pads into blocks, he dominates defenders with his natural power. Moreover, Hayes flashes good build-up speed for his size. He’s a surprising mover in space, using long, bounding strides to cover ground. He can carry momentum into opponents, as well as explode into players at the second level and latch on punches.
Furthermore, Hayes flashes decent recovery athleticism and lateral mobility. The Oklahoma guard has enough lateral mobility to match stunting linemen. He can also flip his hips well enough to wall off opponents on reach blocks. Additionally, Hayes snaps back into place quickly after punches and surges into successive blocks.
Execution beyond the physical traits
Hayes does well to supplement his natural strength and power with other operational qualities. In pass protection, he keeps active feet, and resets his base and extends in rapid succession.
Hayes positions himself fairly well. He understands depth and angles and naturally squares himself up with rushers. Moreover, Hayes is fairly solid on stunts. He can pass off defenders and doesn’t get tunnel vision. He also has the awareness to point out blitzers and adapt blocking assignments.
Going further, Hayes has violent hand capacity, and he can club defenders with his devastating hip torque. He also stymies rushes from smaller defenders with his grip strength and density. By consistently gathering his base and maintaining his anchor, Hayes can help power rushes fade out. It helps that the Oklahoma G has decent knee bend. He can keep a wide base and absorb power to a degree.
As a run blocker, Hayes is equally promising. He has solid urgency and get-off at the snap. The Oklahoma guard brings constant energy in the running game and has a definite mauler gene. He can capitalize on imbalanced defenders and drive them to the turf, and his physical edge carries to the end of each rep. Hayes is always active and alert, and he actively seeks to stack blocks at the second level. Once he latches, he escorts defenders downfield with his leg drive.
Areas for improvement
There are limitations to list with Hayes. Athletically, he’s not elite. He can be stiff laterally, and his high-cut frame limits his change-of-direction ability at times. Hayes only has above-average explosiveness, and even then, he doesn’t always play to his full explosive capacity. The Oklahoma guard is more of a linear athlete in space, and he doesn’t do well when he has to adjust his angle on the fly.
Going further, Hayes struggles with his pad level more than desired. His pads are too high a lot, and he sometimes struggles to drive maximum power into defenders as a result. His upright nature as a motion blocker can make him easy to knock off-balance, and he has trouble recovering when his initial punches don’t land. The Oklahoma G bends at the waist at times, which can play into his struggles with pad level.
Hayes can also strive for better synergy between his hands and feet. The Oklahoma guard sometimes shoots his hands before setting his base, resulting in lurches. He also sometimes leans before advancing and isn’t consistently coordinated on the attack. At times, Hayes overshoots angles in space and doesn’t have the agility to recover. His feet can also be a bit frantic at times, and that instability can expose him to power.
Among other things, Hayes’ hands are consistently high and open. He can’t always maximize his grip strength when his hands are placed too wide. Furthermore, he can get grabby when using those hands, drawing penalties. Hayes too often wraps up and wrestles players rather than driving through them. To that end, he can do a better job of loading his hands to maximize power exerted.
Hayes’ 2022 NFL Draft scouting report overview
Hayes’ ceiling isn’t sky-high, and that restricted ceiling largely comes from his athletic profile. He’s not a liability in any category, but there is some lateral stiffness and limitations with his change-of-direction capacity. His explosiveness off the snap is only above-average, and while he’s a good mover in space, he struggles to adapt when he overshoots angles.
Nevertheless, Hayes passes the athletic threshold for a potential starter. The larger issues might stem from his high pad level and hand placement. His upright style and occasional stiffness can make him vulnerable to more explosive, agile rushers. On the flip side, his tendency to open up his hands and expose his torso can be exploited by power rushers.
If Hayes can clean up those parts of his game, he has excellent power capacity and core strength, and can levy devastating blocks with his upper-body torque. Moreover, his tenacious mauler mentality maximizes his physical style and allows him to consistently outmuscle smaller players.
With his serviceable athleticism and undeniable power element, Hayes has starting potential as a guard at the next level. He may be best in an inside-zone or power-gap scheme, but Hayes has enough mobility to be somewhat scheme-versatile. On late Day 2 or early Day 3, Hayes is a worthy investment.
Hayes’ Player Profile
It’s not quite Alabama, but Oklahoma has gained a reputation as a program that can develop offensive line talent. That reputation alone has been key in bringing many high-level line recruits to the Sooner State from all across the nation. One such recruit was Hayes, who was a four-star prospect from Maryland Heights, Missouri.
Hayes, who stood at a massive 6’5″, 334 pounds, garnered interest from schools like Illinois, Iowa State, Miami, and Missouri. But the offer from Oklahoma blew the others out of the water. Hayes only had a 5.79 40-yard dash and a 21.5-inch vertical on record, but the hope was that Oklahoma would be the program to adequately mold his tools.
Hayes’ career at Oklahoma
Having arrived with college-ready size, Hayes didn’t have to wait very long to earn field opportunities. He redshirted in 2017 and was merely a reserve guard in 2018. However, after that, the Oklahoma G would take a leap and enter the starting lineup.
Hayes became the starting left guard for the Sooners in 2019, starting all 13 games for Lincoln Riley’s squad. He came back in 2020 and again started every game at left guard. 2021 featured no change there. A steady constant for the Sooners, with first-team Big 12 honors in 2020 and second-team honors in 2021, Hayes eventually leveraged his consistent performance into a draft declaration and a Senior Bowl invite.
Hayes’ NFL Draft ascension
Hayes has done enough on the field to pique the interest of NFL evaluators. However, there’s still work to be done in the 2022 offseason. Athletic testing will be a little bit bigger for Hayes, who didn’t test well out of high school. High school numbers are merely baseline figures and do not present a prospect’s ceiling. However, Hayes’ testing numbers will go a long way toward characterizing his true athletic profile.
Nevertheless, on film, Hayes appears to have enough athleticism to get by and supplement his natural power. If he can show that valuable combination at the Senior Bowl and maul opponents in space without appearing overwhelmed, he could lock down a spot in the middle rounds — and maybe even sneak into the top 100.
Tony Pauline’s scouting report for Marquis Hayes
Positives: Powerful, big-bodied blocker who is best in a small area. Blocks with proper lean, displays outstanding vision, and quickly picks up the blitz. Sets with a wide base, starts with good knee bend, and anchors in pass protection. Turns defenders from the line and opens up running lanes. Very effective with his hands.
Negatives: Heavy-footed, lumbers around the field, and shows no ability blocking in motion. Struggles to adjust and gets hammered by quick or nimble opponents. Gets upright in his stance as the play proceeds.
Analysis: Hayes comes with exceptional size, growth potential, and a powerful game. His lack of athleticism and agility is a concern, though Hayes is a perfect fit in a power-gap system.