In attempting to rebuild the Oakland Raiders from one of the worst professional franchises over the last ten years, Reggie McKenzie has taken a cautious approach, ridding the team of bad contracts and avoiding investing too highly in one player.
This preference for caution is one of the reasons his decision to take Houston cornerback D.J. Hayden with the #12 overall pick in April’s NFL Draft raised so many eyebrows. While no one doubts Hayden’s skills as a player, it is considered a medical miracle that he is alive following a life threatening injury to his heart.
For Oakland, drafting Hayden was a “cross your fingers and hope nothing bad happens” kind of pick. Early on, that gamble has taken a hit that likely has the front office quite nervous.
The young corner recently underwent surgery to remove abdominal scar tissue and will be out for a minimum of around two months. It is unclear whether this injury has anything to do with the injury that occurred during his time at Houston.
While the entire organization is hoping that this is nothing that will damage Hayden’s long-term NFL future, head coach Dennis Allen did have to acknowledge that it was a setback. “It’s obviously not a good thing, from a footballstandpoint,” Allen said. “As a rookie, you need all the reps you can getand all the work you can get.”
The Raiders are counting on Hayden to start for the franchise next season, likely alongside former Cowboy corner Mike Jenkins in a defensive unit that is expected to return only two starters from last season.