Instant Analysis: Raiders select D.J. Hayden
D.J. Hayden’s senior season at Houston was cut short by a freak accident when he suffered a ruptured inferior vena cava, a blood-vessel injury that can be fatal. (USA TODAY IMAGES)
ALAMEDA -- The Raiders traded down put to choose D.J. Hayden with the No. 12 overall pick in the first round of the NFL draft on Thursday.
Here's a closer look at the selection:
Height/weight: 5 foot 11, 191 pounds
College career: Hayden began his career at Navarro College and helped it win the 2010 junior college national championship before transferring to Houston as a junior. He was Conference USA's defensive newcomer of the year after leading the Cougars with 11 pass breakups and his five forced fumbles tied for seventh in the nation. He also recorded 66 tackles, eight for a loss, and had two interceptions. His senior year, though, was cut short by a freak injury at practice on Nov. 6 when the large vein carrying blood from the lower half of the body back to his heart was torn in a nondescript collision. Before the injury, though, Hayden, a preseason All-American, started nine games. He had four interceptions and his 171 return yards and two touchdowns were 11th in the country as he also had eight pass deflections and 61 tackles, forcing a fumble and recovering a fumble.
Scouting report: The shutdown corner has been given a clean bill of health. Is seen as both a standout cover-corner and excels in off-coverage. Also ran a blazing 4.33 40-yard dash. Has good closing speed and his physicality and fearlessness makes him a prime candidate to fight with bigger receivers for 50-50 balls.
How he fits: The Raiders addressed a glaring need with the pick, even as they had already signed a pair of cornerbacks in Tracy Porter and Mike Jenkins. His coverage skills should enable the Raiders' front seven to get more pressure on opposing quarterbacks. Beyond that, Jenkins "football character" and tenacity in coming back from such a life-threatening injury fits the new regime's mindset.
In his words: "I could have (died). The way your heart is set up, it’s in a sack. It punched the sack enough for the blood to bleed out. If all the blood had stayed in the sack it would have exploded. But he didn’t punch it too big where all the blood would have fallen out and I bled to death. It was amazing."
--D.J. Hayden at NFL scouting combine
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From the NFL:
The junior college discovery had a banner senior season, leading Conference USA while ranking 12th in the nation with four interceptions and had come off back-to-back games where he had returned interceptions for touchdowns. Hayden was invited to the 2013 Senior Bowl.
Hayden was featured at Houston’s Pro Day and scouts flocked to campus. Hayden’s 40-yard dash was a scorching 4.33 seconds. Officially, it would go in the books as a 4.4 time. He was also measured at 33 ½-inches in the vertical jump and had a 10-foot broad jump.
At Fort Bend Elkins High School, he played cornerback. Hayden enrolled at Navarro Junior College and played in 10 games for the Bulldogs in 2009. He tallied 23 tackles (17 solos) with one stop behind the line of scrimmage.
Hayden started 11 games, recording 35 tackles (33 solos) with six pass deflections and three interceptions, returning one for a touchdown in 2010. He helped lead Navarro College to the NJCAA national championship while playing on a defense that allowed opponents just 226.0 yards per game, including just 115.1 yards passing.
Hayden received a three-star prospect rating from Rivals.com, as that recruiting service also placed him 41st on their JUCO Top 50 squad. The cornerback received several serious offers, but chose to attend the University of Houston over Arkansas, Texas Christian, Texas A&M, Oklahoma State and Mississippi.