clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Raiders offseason questions: Are DJ Hayden, TJ Carrie long awaited answer at cornerback?

New, comments
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

No position on the Raiders has seen more turnover in the past four seasons than the cornerback. And all indications are that turnover will happen again in 2015. Assuming that is the case, the Raiders will have had a different starting cornerback duo every single season since 2011. Is the 2015 combo going to change that?

That 2015 combo is expected to be former first round pick D.J. Hayden and last year's seventh round rookie surprise, T.J. Carrie. Both have shown flashes of great potential but both also have a history of injuries that are troubling.

If you have been following the Raiders the past few seasons (and I know you have), you know how troubling injuries have been for the Raiders. That and several other factors have contributed to the revolving door at the position.

Here is a look at the different starters over five years including projected starters for next season.

2011 - Stanford Routt, Chris Johnson/DeMarcus Van Dyke
2012 - Ron Bartell/Pat Lee, Shawntae Spencer/Michael Huff
2013 - Tracy Porter, Mike Jenkins
2014 - Tarell Brown, Carlos Rogers
2015 - D.J. Hayden, T.J. Carrie

That is a LOT of turnover. It's complete turnover five straight seasons.

The Raiders had hoped Hayden could compete for a starting job as a rookie in 2013, but an offseason surgery to remove scar tissue from his abdomen caused him to miss the entire offseason and spend nearly all of training camp in a non-contact jersey. Due to the setbacks, come the season, he was firmly  behind Tracy Porter and Mike Jenkins on the depth chart. Then he was lost for the season after eight games.

It was a similar story heading into last season. This time he broke his foot on the second day of OTA's in May and ending up missing the rest of the offseason, all of training camp, and was placed on the PUP list to begin the season. He came off the PUP at midseason and ended up starting the final eight games due to the injury to Carlos Rogers.

Results were mixed with Hayden. He showed more physicality than he had as a rookie - which makes sense considering he was another year removed from his heart surgery -- and he was very close to making a lot of plays. But he also was allowing receivers to run by him and not fighting for the ball. And in the season finale, Peyton Manning favorite target became whomever Hayden was covering.

Carrie really shocked a lot of people stepping up as a rookie seventh round pick to be one of the better cornerbacks on the team. The main reason he was available that late in the draft was his injury history. He missed two entire seasons with injury while at Ohio and it's the reason he was a 24-year-old rookie.

He got a little banged up last season too and missed three games in the middle of the season because of it. But the rest of the season when he was healthy, he was a bright spot.

So, obviously the first question mark with both of these guys is if they are durable enough to be the Raiders starters next season. That question is followed closely with whether they are indeed talented enough to be the long term answer as the starting cornerbacks the Raiders need them to be.

Hayden doesn't play the slot, but Carrie does. That means if the team were to perhaps add a free agent corner, Carrie could end up playing the slot in nickel packages just as Tracy Porter did in 2013 with Hayden coming in and playing the boundary.

As of this moment they are the hope for the future at the two cornerback spots. You can include last year's fourth round pick, Keith McGill in that hope as well. Though as a rookie he had yet to show he was worthy of the team taking a chance on him as a starter.

It's DJ and TJ projected as the starters for now and the hope is this time next year we won't be having this same conversation.