LB Geno Hayes is roughly the same size Derrick Brooks was when the Bucs drafted Brooks 13 years ago
As Florida State's Geno Hayes, a swift but undersized linebacker wearing jersey #10, made play after play last fall, it was hard not to think of Derrick Brooks. The future NFL star wore the same number almost a decade and a half ago, and played the same sort of game.
Brooks traded in his #10 Seminole shirt for #55 on the professional level, but Hayes won't have the same option. See, Hayes' new NFL team already has an established player in that number: none other than Derrick Brooks himself.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers made the two FSU alums teammates on Sunday when they drafted Hayes in the sixth round, with the 175th overall pick. It would be monumentally unfair to expect Hayes or any man to match what Brooks has accomplished on the NFL level – 10 Pro Bowls, a Defensive Player of the Year Award, 24 interceptions and over 2,000 tackles – but the Buccaneers at least believe they have drafted a player in the same mold.
The speedy Hayes is considered "undersized" for an NFL linebacker, but his measurements of 6-1 and 226 pounds are extremely similar to the listed height and weight for Brooks when he entered the NFL: 6-0, 231. Hayes is a versatile performer, having played both inside and outside for the Seminoles during his three-year collegiate career (though he started exclusively on the outside). In 35 games at FSU, he recorded 156 tackles, eight sacks, 29.5 stops behind the line of scrimmage, two interceptions, two forced fumbles, one fumble recovery and seven passes defensed. He scored two touchdowns, one on an interception return and one on a blocked punt recovery.
As a junior in 2007, Hayes earned All-ACC recognition after starting 12 games at weakside linebacker. He was originally slated to move into the middle, but eventually ended up at his familiar position and finished the season with 80 tackles, five sacks and 17.5 stops behind the line of scrimmage.
Hayes, of course, has often been compared to Brooks, thanks to his jersey number and style of play. He could hardly ask for a better situation to begin his NFL career than to land in the same meeting room as his FSU predecessor, and on a defense that should emphasize his skills. Given his size and speed combination, Hayes could also excel on special teams for the Buccaneers.
Tampa Bay has one pick remaining in the 2008 NFL Draft. They will pick 31st in the seventh round (238th overall), utilizing a selection they picked up in a trade with New England earlier on Sunday.