Allow Me to Re-Introduce D.J. Hayden

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Oct 6, 2013; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders cornerback DJ Hayden (25) prevents the pass intended for San Diego Chargers wide receiver Keenan Allen (13) during the first quarter at Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Why He’ll Be Good

Top corners often struggle when they first come into the NFL and staying with their man isn’t usually the biggest problem. They’re actually always right there but their man catches the ball anyway as these corners need to get stronger to match the NFL’s stronger receivers. They also need to anticipate the location of the ball better from the NFL’s more accurate quarterbacks.

In college, just being there was good enough as the receivers were less likely to out-jump or out-muscle them for the ball. Plus they would get passes thrown right to them by less accurate college quarterbacks that could pinpoint their targets. Carrie went through that adjustment recently as he was repeatedly beaten but quarterbacks now have a rating of 54.7 throwing his way.

Hayden, who took longer as he had no training camp or offseason last year, was just starting to get it but was hurt after only eight games. This year, he’s bigger, reportedly stronger and more explosive with that eight games of experience from last year. So I’m looking for Hayden to come back to help out in a big way and hopefully Carrie keeps it up at the same time.