Career Recap: Ole Miss put together some tremendous recruiting classes under head coach Hugh Freeze. In 2013, the program had a banner year with Robert Nkemdiche, Laquon Treadwell and Laremy Tunsil being among the top players in the nation at any position. While those three were all future first-rounders, one of the most clutch players on the team has been Haynes. In critical moments when the Rebels' defense have needed a big play, Haynes has risen to the occasion to make an impact as a pass-rusher.
As a freshman, Haynes rotated into the game and produced 7.5 sacks with nine tackles for a loss and 31 tackles. He was even better in 2015 as he took on a bigger role and recorded 43 tackles with 16.5 for a loss, 10 sacks, three forced fumbles and two passes batted. The sophomore was one of the most dangerous pass rushers in the SEC.
2016 Season Outlook: The 2016 season opener provides Haynes with the opportunity to go against one of the best left tackles in college football with Florida State's Roderick Johnson. Johnson is a quality edge protector, and if Haynes is able to get the better of Johnson, that would be big for Haynes' draft stock.
Two weeks later, Haynes will match up against Alabama's Cam Robinson, another potential first-round offensive tackle. Ole Miss will need Haynes to get after the quarterback in that game.
Those games will also be great tests of Haynes' run defense, and it would really help him if he can show improvement in that regard while seeing Florida State superstar running back Dalvin Cook. Against Georgia (Nick Chubb) and LSU (Leonard Fournette), Haynes will see two more superstar running backs. Both teams also have offensive line talent for Haynes to battle. Other opponents like Arkansas, Auburn, and Texas A&M will be challenges for the junior Rebel.
Skill-Set Summary: In the passing-driven NFL, edge rushers who can get after the quarterback are always in demand. Haynes is a fast quarterback hunter who presents a lot of problems for blockers off the edge. If he has another good season, that will be three years of tape showing that he has the ability to get to the signal-caller and make a difference in the pass defense.
It is obvious that Haynes is a fast edge rusher. He has a superb get-off with a great first step. Haynes accelerates by tackles routinely and his speed makes him extremely difficult for tackles to block off the edge. Haynes is agile and athletic in space, so that allows him to dodge blockers. However being so undersized, Haynes is in big trouble as a pass rusher when blockers get their hands on him. He has to improve his hands and upper body strength to shed blocks.
There is no doubt that Haynes also needs to get stronger for the NFL. In the ground game, he has to get stronger at defending runs that come straight at him and improve his functional power to shed blocks. There is no way Haynes can play defensive end in the NFL weighing in the 220s. That's a similar weight to some safeties. He will have to move to linebacker.
Ole Miss lines Haynes up at linebacker and defensive end. He has often would put his hand in the ground and rush off the edge. In the NFL though, Haynes will only be able to do that in very obvious passing situations. His best fit would be as a situational rusher in a 3-4 defense as an outside linebacker. He might be able to grow into a bigger role at that position. In a 4-3, he would only be a situational rusher unless he was able to transition to playing outside linebacker as well.
Right now, Haynes is a one-trick pony as a speed rusher. He is very good at that trick and is a real weapon as a rusher off the edge. However, his role will only be a situational one, so that will limit his playing time as a pro. As a result, he could be a love/hate draft prospect and a luxury pick who is only in play for a limited number of teams.
2017 NFL Draft Expectations: Entering the 2016 season, Haynes looks like a potential second-day prospect.