Reggie McKenzie and the Oakland Raiders certainly took a risk in selecting cornerback D.J. Hayden with the 12th overall selection in the NFL Draft, and NFL scouts seem to concur.
According to WalterFootball, scouts were “shocked McKenzie would draft a risky player like Hayden with his initial first-round pick as a general manager.”
The scouts are most probably concerned about his injury. Hayden collided with a teammate at practice last year at Houston and severed his inferior vena cava, nearly killing him.
However, he miraculously survived, participated in Pro Day, and was swooped up by the Raiders, who traded down from the No. 3 pick and selected him.
Scouts also believed that the Raiders would have been “safer” going with defensive tackle Shariff Floyd out of Florida, who they were also interested in. Floyd fell to the Vikings with the 23rd selection.
Preliminary mock drafts had the Raiders picking Floyd at No. 3 overall, but on the day of the draft, several reports came out claiming that they were seriously considering Hayden.
Scouts concluded that the Raiders’ selections in the later rounds (Tyler Wilson, Nick Kasa, Mychal Rivera, Latavius Murray, Brice Butler, and David Bass) have “boom-or-bust” potential, but thought they were “solid selections by McKenzie and some could contend to start immediately.”
Overall, however, the concensus around the league is that McKenzie took a gamble in the draft, especially with his first selection in Hayden.