The Oakland Raiders traded the third pick in the draft for the 12th pick and 42nd picks while landing cornerback DJ Hayden out of Houston. The Raiders spoke very highly of their pick after making it and even claimed that they would have taken Hayden with the third pick had they not found a trade partner. Sounds pretty good if you take it from the Raiders, but let's take a look at what the so called experts have to say about the Raiders' first round.
Here is what ESPN Insider has to say about the pick:
What he brings: Hayden has one of the best combinations of footwork and closing burst in the 2013 corner class. He is also rarely caught out of position. What separates him, though, are his playmaking instincts and ability to manufacture turnovers. He can get stronger and more consistent in run support, but overall Hayden shows a shut-down skill set in coverage.
How he fits: This was one of the worst secondaries in the NFL a year ago. Part of the problem was corners with marginal cover skills. A bigger problem might have been the lack of an upfront pass rush. As a result, it puts the defensive backs on a lot of island situations. They are forced to blitz to create pressure, which means a lot of tight man-to-man coverages. The problem is that none of their guys did it very well. This will at least be a step in the right direction to allow Oakland's coaches to get back to more aggressive cover packages. They obviously hope that Hayden can be a shutdown corner like the type of player you used to identify with this secondary.
Sounds pretty good. The Raiders certainly needed help at the corner position and according to insider Hayden looks like a guy who can fill that role for years.
Meanwhile, Michael Silver of Yahoo sports is much less enthusiastic about the pick. In his piece, SIlver mentions health concerns and the fact that Hayden was not tabbed to go very high as reasons to be cautious when it comes to the Raiders' newest player. His Yahoo compatriot, Jason Cole, was also not very high on the Raiders' first day, but for him, it was due to the Raiders not getting sufficient value in their trade with Miami.
ESPN blogger Bill Williamson was ok with the choice of Hayden, saying that he could be a good player and if you think a guy is special, you have to take him, even if others think he is a late first round pick. But Williamson also had issues with the trade, believing the Raiders did not get nearly enough for the third overall pick.
Todd McShay believes that Hayden will come in and push for a starting job immediately and will one day become a very good starter in the league. He notes that Hayden has great speed, good ball skills, is a good tackler and is versatile, being able to play well in both man coverage and zone schemes.
Overall, it appears that the Raiders continued their habit of bucking the system by taking the unexpected and perhaps a bit early. But at the same time, there appears to be a consensus that as long as Hayden has fully recovered from his freak injury, that he very well could become a dominant corner in the NFL.