NFL Week 1 Rookie Report Card: D.J. Hayden

By Gil Alcaraz IV
D.J. Hayden
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Oakland Raiders have high expectations for rookie cornerback D.J. Hayden, a Houston product who they made the No. 12 overall pick this past April.

After suffering a torn heart cavity during his senior year that nearly cost him his life, Hayden took a while to get back into the fold for the Raiders. He dealt with complications during the summer and didn’t get into action for the silver and black until the third preseason outing – a game during which he struggled mightily.

It was originally assumed that he would be an immediate starter for the Raiders, but spending training camp with a red jersey on forced him into a nickel role when the regular season finally kicked off.

In his first NFL outing, Hayden allowed all three of the passes that came his way to be completed for 35 yards. Reggie Wayne, T.Y. Hilton and Darrius Heyward-Bey all picked up first downs on the receptions they got while playing against Hayden’s coverage. He was in their back pocket on each target, but failed to keep the ball from being caught.

Hayden saw the field on 23 snaps (18 in coverage) and amassed three tackles on the game while earning a -1.6 overall rating on the Pro Football Focus rating system. He also fell victim to what appeared to be a hold that wasn’t called on the Andrew Luck rushing touchdown that gave the Indianapolis Colts a 21-17 victory.

Especially with the way that starters Tracy Porter and Mike Jenkins played, the Raiders need to see more from Hayden in the not-so-distant future. They spent their 2013 first-rounder on him in hopes that he’d pay immediate dividends, and only have so much patience.

The jury is still out on Hayden, who has the talent to be a quality cornerback for the Raiders. Before he gets there, though, he needs to prove that he can provide reliable coverage in Oakland.

We’ll see what sort of progress can be made in Week 2.

Final Week 1 Grade: C

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Gil Alcaraz IV is the Content Planner for Follow him on Twitter @GilAlcarazIV, like him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.

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