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Silver Minings: What to make of D.J. Hayden’s career turnaround?

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Former Raiders’ first-round pick has found his groove in Jacksonville

NFL: Preseason-Tennessee Titans at Oakland Raiders
D.J. Hayden
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Has D.J. Hayden suddenly become an upper-level NFL player?

There are certainly cases being made for it. Some league observers have ranked Hayden among the best slot cornerbacks in the NFL and have even made pushes for Hayden on NFL top-100 lists. The Associated Press has backed that talk up with numbers.

Opinions are just that, but these statistics do prove that Hayden, now with his third team, the Jacksonville Jaguars, is playing well.

It has to be both shocking and a bit unsettling for Raiders fans to digest this news. Hayden was the No. 12 overall draft pick by the Raiders in the 2013 draft. He didn’t accomplish much in four seasons in Oakland. He was oft-injured and was mostly just a nondescript backup.

Because of that, the Raiders didn’t make an effort to re-sign him in 2017 and he ended up played decently with the Detroit Lions. Hayden signed with the Jaguars in 2018 and has established himself as a solid slot cornerback.

I wouldn’t be too upset about Hayden’s emergence. Things happen. The Raiders gave him four seasons and it didn’t work out. Things have since clicked for Hayden. Perhaps he’s with the right coaches and in the right system. Hayden clearly had ability when he was drafted, but it never clicked with the Raiders.

Yet, now that he is heading into his eighth NFL season, Hayden has found his groove.

In other Raiders’ links:

  • Teammate love: Raiders’ defensive end Maxx Crosby is mad tackle Trent Brown isn’t on the NFL Network’s top 100 player list. He may have a point.
  • A look at Raiders’ new addition: The Athletic has a profile on new Raiders’ chaplain, and former NFL quarterback, Randall Cunningham.
  • Lack of clutch offensive play: The AP shows the Raiders have struggled in red zone and big-play production.
  • Points per drive lag: The AP reports how low the Raiders’ rank in recent years in points per drive.
  • Podcast thoughts: NFL analyst Warren Sharp shares his thoughts on the Raiders.