Oakland Raiders Top 5: Early Training Camp Battles

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Dec 28, 2014; Denver, CO, USA; Oakland Raiders cornerback Keith McGill (39) defends on a pass intended for Denver Broncos wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders (10) in the first quarter at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. The Broncos defeated the Raiders 47-14. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Keith McGill vs. D.J. Hayden

With the 12th overall pick in the 2013 NFL draft the Oakland Raiders selected defensive back D.J. Hayden, but since entering the league he has failed to live up to expectations.

Injuries have been a concern before he even entered the NFL, as his senior season at the University of Houston was cut short due to a serious tear to his inferior vena cava, a large vein that carries blood from the lower half of your body to your heart. As a rookie Hayden suffered an injury to his groin that led to him playing just eight games, in which he registered 25 tackles and one interception. In 2014 he accumulated 47 combined tackles and one interception after missing the first six games of the season, as he was recovering from foot surgery earlier in the offseason.

With the injuries now behind him, Hayden is hoping to become the starting cornerback opposite of former 2014 seventh-round pick T.J. Carrie, but another defensive back from Oakland’s 2014 draft class seems to have surpassed him on the depth chart.

“Second-year cornerback Keith McGill was working with the first team opposite T.J. Carrie for much of the minicamp earlier this month,” ESPN Staff Writer Bill Williamson reported. “D.J. Hayden was getting some first-team units, but mostly he was with the second unit.”

Carrie, a former seventh-round pick from a year ago, played in 13 games (four starts) in 2014 and has solidified himself as Oakland’s top corner entering the 2015 season.

With Hayden struggling early on, McGill has been given the edge during the first week of training camp.

According to Scott Bair of CSNBayArea.com, McGill has continued to play with the first-unit throughout training camp, as Hayden has been primarily coming in on sub packages.

Although McGill has been performing well throughout the entire offseason and looks to be playing himself into  a starting role, head coach Jack Del Rio still insists that there is an open competition for all three of the top corner spots.

“Keith has had a solid spring,” Del Rio said via CSNBayArea.com. “DJ and TJ, all three of those guys, we feel like they had good springs and will be productive players for us and we’ll let them determine who’s No. 1, who’s No. 2 and who’s No. 3.”

It will be interesting to see how the competition plays out, but the early favorite to win the starting role come Week 1 is unquestionably McGill.

Next: Mychal Rivera vs. Clive Walford