Lo and behold, the Oakland Raiders draft cornerback D.J. Hayden after all. Hayden jumped into headlines as a target by the Raiders earlier this week. Even with DTs Sharrif Floyd and Star Lotulelei falling to 12, GM Reggie McKenzie opted for the corner.
McKenzie stated he was after “the surest of the sure”. Hayden will immediately jump into the starting lineup, where newly signed CBs Tracy Porter and Mike Jenkins will battle it out for the other spot. The Raiders now own a young and potent defensive backfield with the addition of Hayden. Set to play Peyton Manning and Philip Rivers twice a year, the addition will surely help raise the team’s 20th ranked pass defense.
Mostly knocked for his lack of tackling skills, scouts and onlookers at Hayden’s Pro-Day were “awed” by his performance. NFL Networks Ian Rapaport reported that scouts were “giddy” over Hayden’s film saying, “For a guy no one talked about a month ago, the buzz is nuts, people love his tape.”
Coming into the draft, Floyd was the undisputed leader as a Raiders target by countless mock drafts. He was even available for Oakland to select at 12 after trading down with the Miami Dolphins. In fact, he is still on the board after Sheldon Richardson and Lotulelei each went successively.
As surprising as Floyd and Lotulelei’s drops were, it was also rather surprising to see Dee Milliner get picked up before Hayden was, with the New York Jets. Milliner is set to start the season on the PUP (physically-unable-to perform) list and dropped by many analysts standards. According to the New York Post, Milliner states that he’ll be fine, saying, “I’ll start back rehabbing hard after the draft, whatever team chooses me, and I’ll be fine.”
With the trade down to 12, the Raiders gained a second round draft choice, the 42nd overall. Team needs still include: DT, OG, OT, DE and some WR depth.
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