May 20, 2013; Alameda, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders cornerback D.J. Hayden (25) at organized team activities at the Raiders practice facility. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Rookie Review: Get to Know Defensive Back D.J. Hayden


It’s practice before the 10th game of the 2012 University of Houston football season.  In a passing drill that D.J. Hayden has probably performed hundreds of times, he collides with one of his safeties.  The safety’s knee collided with Hayden’s chest, tearing his Inferior Vena Cava in his heart.  The injury itself is most commonly associated with high-speed vehicle accidents and the fatality rate is 95%, due to the massive loss of blood.  In an interview at the 2013 NFL Combine Hayden told the media, “When I was lying on the field, I couldn’t see out of my left eye.  It just went pitch black, and I suddenly felt cold and sleepy.”

In my previous line of work, I have seen this injury up close and personal.  One moment people are talking to you and telling you about the accident, all of a sudden, they get quiet and are never heard from again.  It’s a very scary injury.  Hayden is lucky to be alive.  The miracle of science allowed doctors to fix his heart, and he was medically cleared to play football again.

This is a shutdown cornerback.  He had a very good if not great college career at both Navarro College, (Corsicana, Texas) and the University of Houston (Houston, Texas).  He made tackles and picked off the ball.  He shut down the receivers he faced.  NFL Analyst and Draft Specialist Mike Mayock ranked Hayden as the best defensive player available in the 2013 draft.  With the well-known and discussed Reggie McKenzie draft trade, the Oakland Raiders dropped to the #12 position in the First Round and scooped Hayden up.

With the loss of Nnamdi Asomugha in 2011, it’s been a long time since the Oakland Raiders have had a shut down corner, but this is about to change.  Mark my words Raider Nation, Hayden is a player with so much talent and pure ability, he will rival the stats of the great Darrelle Revis (Now with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers).

Hayden received an additional surgery to his abdomen in June of 2013, but, fear not Raider Nation; this was not associated with his heart.  Hayden is scheduled to be ready for Training Camp in July.  Along with the additions of veteran players Tracy Porter (DB), Michael Jenkins (DB), Tyvon Branch (S), Usama Young (S), and Charles Woodson (S), our secondary will be a force to be reckoned with in 2013.  The Secondary will cover more receivers and allow our Defensive Line and Linebackers to get to the Quarterback.

Many analysts in the media have D.J. Hayden occupying the starting DB position across from Tracy Porter.  This would leave Michael Jenkins to fill the Nickel Cornerback position.  However, camp is around the corner and anything can happen.  The most interesting concept I see is D.J. Hayden being mentored by none other than Charles Woodson (A shutdown corner in his own right).  There aren’t too many other Mentor’s you would want to help the development of a rookie other than him.  You could probably count them on one hand.  Willie Brown would be on that hand, and he just so happens to be a member of the Raiders Staff.  Between Charles Woodson and Willie Brown, Hayden is a player that will be exciting to watch.

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Tags: Charles Woodson D.J. Hayden Darrelle Revis Michael Jenkins Navarro College Nnamdi Asomugha Raider Nation Reggie McKenzie Tampa Bay Buccaneers Tracy Porter Tyvon Branch University Of Houston Usama Young Willie Brown

  • Luis Hernandez

    With the selections that were still on the board, even after trading back to the 12th pick, I’m surprised that Reggie chose to draft Hayden. I’m not one to question the direction of the franchise, but I would’ve thought the D line would have been addressed first of all. All the draft mocks that came out showed the raiders taking a D line player, so this was pretty much a curve ball. Reggie has made good roster moves not only to get us better players, but clearing up the cap space situation at the same time, so he’s got my full support. With Hayden’s life threatening heart issue, I’m still skeptic of his durability. I guess this is one of those wait and see things, but hopefully this kid does becomes the cover corner that raider nation has missed for years.