Miami Dolphins cornerback Tae Hayes entered the NFL as an undrafted college free agent with the Jacksonville Jaguars after being a four-year letterman (2015-18) at Appalachian State, where he earned a second-team All-Sun Belt selection as a senior in 2018.
Hayes recorded nine interceptions and 33 pass defenses in 52 games at Appalachian State, capped by a senior year where he led Sun Belt cornerbacks with a 44.1 passer rating allowed. In addition, Hayes collected four picks, seven pass break-up, and two field-goal attempts blocked.
Hayes had no trouble finding an NFL team after going undrafted in 2019. With the Jaguars, he impressed early. In his first preseason game, Hayes picked off a pass intended for wide receiver Miles Boykin — who at 6-foot-4 has a 7-inch height advantage on the 5-foot-9, 188-pound Hayes.
Overall, he registered 11 tackles, four pass breakups, and an interception in preseason play.
Hayes spent the first eight weeks of the regular season on the Jaguars’ practice squad before being promoted. Hayes played one game, seeing action on seven special teams snaps against the Houston Texans in Week Nine, before being waived on Dec. 12, 2019.
The Dolphins were awarded Hayes off waivers on Dec. 13, 2019, and utilized him in Week 15 and 16.
Against the Bengals, he totaled three tackles and a big-time pass deflection on the goal line.
Against the Patriots in Week 17, Hayes made four tackles and added an excellent pass deflection.
Hayes, 22, emerges as another UDFA gem for the Dolphins, and could very well compete for one of the five or six cornerbacks spots on the roster in 2020. In his two games with Miami, Hayes had 16 passes thrown in his coverage, only three were caught (for 55 yards), per Pro Football Focus.