Oakland Raiders: What First Round Pick D.J. Hayden Brings to the Team


October 27, 2012; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Cougars defensive back D.J. Hayden (2) returns an interception for a touchdown during the second quarter against the Texas El Paso Miners at Robertson Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

The Oakland Raiders were heavily speculated to trade down from their third overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft. As it turns out, they did exactly that.

The Raiders shipped their third overall pick to the Miami Dolphins in exchange for the No. 12 and No. 42 pick in the draft. The Dolphins ended up selecting Oregon defensive end Dion Jordan, while the Raiders used their 12th overall pick on Houston cornerback D.J. Hayden.

The soon-to-be-rookie finally accomplished his goal of making it to the NFL, but Hayden is no stranger to miraculous events.

On November 6, 2012, Hayden tore his inferior vena cava, which is the main vein that carries blood from the lower half of the body to the heart. He then proceeded with emergency surgery in which the doctors made an incision that runs from right below his throat down to his belly button. His injury has never been documented in football, and the survival rate of the injury is typically at about five percent. At his Pro Day, Hayden ran a 4.33 40-yard dash and weighed in at 189 pounds.

So after all the drama, Hayden has finally made it all the way to the NFL and with the Oakland Raiders. The question is, what does he bring to the table for the struggling franchise?

Well, in his 23 games at Houston, he had six interceptions, two of which were returned for touchdowns. The Raiders have already signed cornerbacks Mike Jenkins and Tracy Porter to contracts earlier this offseason, but the Raiders bolstered their secondary even more with this pick.

Hayden stands at just under six feet tall and right around 190 pounds. His man-to-man coverage is regarded as the best part of his game, and that will help the Raiders tremendously as last season, the team allowed 50 touchdowns and 5,672 yards of total offense.

It will also be good for Hayden to start his career playing beside veterans like Jenkins and Porter, who have played in several NFL games each and can show him the ropes. Hopefully they will serve as good mentors for the rookie as he will be looking to learn a lot of information from here until the start of the season.

So what does D.J. Hayden bring to the Raiders? Physicality, toughness, and intelligence.

Hayden has no trouble staying with his receivers on either the short or deep balls, and his tackling is a work of art. His physicality and toughness all come from him being a great tackler and hitter for his size and position, and it will be an element that the Raiders will welcome in with open arms.

After surviving an injury that has a 95 percent fatality rate, Hayden must be stoked to be playing in the NFL with the Raiders. I believe he will be a key component to the Raiders success in the upcoming 2013-2014 season and that he will finally revive some hope to the sluggish franchise.