Prospect Smackdown: Cameron Heyward vs. Christian Ballard
Two of the best 3-4 DE prospects in this loaded drafted. Arguably, the two most prototypical players for the position currently in the draft.
According to Scout.com, Ballard was a 4 star DE recruit in '07. Saw action in all his 4 years, and was first team for Iowa by his sophomore season. No character knocks, and a student of the Iowa program under the awesome Kirk Ferentz.
Heyward, as many will know, is the son of a former NFL player. He was the 20th ranked DT in the nation in '07, and like Ballard as a 4 star recruit. He was a Freshman All American and a 4 year starter for OSU. Many consider him their best DL in all 4 of his seasons.
Edge: Ballard was the better prospect, but I'm a big believer in genetics and Heyward has them on his side. I'm calling this one a draw. Both are 4 year guys who were leaders and captains and all that.
Ballard racked up 152 TKL, 21.5 TFL, 12 sacks, 32 KR yards (2 returns), a couple FF, a blocked kick, a handful of hurries, and a couple of passes broken up in his 4 years.
Heyward racked up 164 TKL, 37.5 TFL, 14.5 sacks, a couple FF, an INT, a few pressures, a few PD...
Edge: Heyward had the bigger seasons (particularly his '09) and the raw numbers favor him so I'll give it to him. Remember that both of these guys played in the same years in the same conference, so they're pretty good competition in something like this.
Both are in the 6'5"-6'6" 295 range. Both move extremely well, though I lean towards Ballard a little bit in that regard. Heyward is the better anchor and better against the run. Both are guys who saw time at all spots on the DL for their respective schools...the list includes 4-3 DE, 4-3 DT, 3-4 DE, and even some NT. Both are highly active players and don't seem like 300 pound men when they're running down the field, which they will both do actively. Really the difference between them physically will be in the workout numbers and then your opinion on whether Heyward is really more dominant against the run.
Edge: F*ckin draw...Ballard gets the pure athleticism edge from me while Heyward gets the run stuffing edge.
Both have the argument as the best pure 3-4 DE in the draft. Both are leaders for their teams, they're experienced, they're tested, they're well coached, and basically have the whole package one might be looking for. Both offer strong potential against the run and the pass, though since neither is a sack guy neither is lauded as a significant factor in the all powerful pass rush.
Edge: F*ckin draw. Both appear to be pretty awesome prospects, though both of their profiles still have room to go up once combine season gets rolling. I lean towards Heyward for bloodlines and pure strength/stoutness, but it wouldn't take much to make me lean Ballard.
I'm not doing pro comparisons...if I had to the name I'd throw out would be Ty Warren....both look like they can be high end starters on a 3 man DL.
Okay, I thought Heyward was a top 25, and I know I will be crushed for this, but I saw Ballard as an early third. In my delusional draft thinking, double dip, Heyward in the first, Ballard in the third, Devito splits time at RDE and NT with Pouha. ( give up a fourth to trade up for Ballard in the 3rd)