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Raiders visit with University of Houston CB DJ Hayden

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Houston CB DJ Hayden visited the Raiders this week according to Pro Football Talk. He had a fantastic career at Houston which was cut short by a life-threatening injury. Fully healed he is looking to be drafted in the 2013 NFL Draft.

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The Raiders recently met with Houston CB D.J. Hayden. He is notable for being one of the premier cornerback prospects in college football until he suffered a freak injury midway through his senior year. Taking a routine hit in practice, Hayden suffered a severed inferior vena cava (a major vein leading into the heart), which is an injury usually seen in high-speed vehicle crashes (think: a guy getting thrown from a motorcycle). Usually, the injury is fatal. Hayden survived and is preparing for the Draft.

Hayden is known as a strong cover corner with good size at 5'11" and 191 lbs. Although that is smaller than the newer breed of corner that the Seahawks are spearheading, it is on the high end of what the typical NFL CB measures in at.

He is quite fast and was often used on corner blitzes from the edge. He excels at shedding blocks and shows good tackling technique, making sure to wrap up in addition to his ability to force fumbles. He has very good hands, recording four INTs in 2012 despite playing in only nine games.

Hayden's downsides are few, but as the receivers in the NFL get taller he will be more at a disadvantage. He won't be able to out-jump them or jam them well at the line of scrimmage. This is precisely why the trend toward larger corners will probably continue. That said, Hayden is larger than most corners and he has elite speed and the ability to knock down passes and recover on square and curl routes so his size may not be a huge issue unless he goes against a tall, physical receiver like Calvin or Andre Johnson or Vincent Jackson.

It's impossible to tell how Hayden's injury will impact his play down the road. He was unable to perform drills at the Combine but recorded a 4.33 40-yard dash, which alone would usually put a corner in first-round consideration.

Hayden's name has been rising on experts' draft boards lately and while no one knows how his health concerns will impact his draft status in the end, it's telling that he is one of the few defensive backs with whom the Raiders have met. If Hayden had not suffered an injury it's likely he would be a lock for the first round.