Originally written on cover32 - Raiders  |  Last updated 1/25/15
I, like many, wasn’t even exactly sure who DJ Hayden was going into the 2013 NFL Draft. I mean, I do follow the draft, but honestly all I’d heard about Hayden was about the injury he sustained during practice that very nearly killed him. He was selected 12th overall in the draft despite having not taken a snap in the second half of his senior year. He had started the first nine games before sustaining a torn inferior vena cava during passing drills where he collided with a safety. The safety’s knee struck Hayden in the chest and resulted in an injury that is most commonly seen in high speed vehicle accidents. This sort of injury carries with it a 95% fatality rate due to the massive loss of blood. Hayden described the moments after the accident saying that things went pitch black in his left eye and that he just felt suddenly cold and sleepy. Even after this accident, Hayden was still afforded first team All-Conference USA honors. And though he hadn’t been able to prove himself in the last half of his senior year, the Raiders thought highly enough of him to spend their first round draft pick on him. Such was the lot that the Raiders had leading up to the 2013 season. As Raider Nation knows, cap space was a huge problem and general manager Reggie McKenzie had to hustle in order to fill the roster. That meant a lot of young, unproven players. The flip side of these young and unproven players is that they came into the season with something to prove, which is the crux of what turns a player into an Oakland Raider. This presented Raider Nation with the grand debate of whether or not it is a dearth of talent or coaching that has gotten the Raiders to yet another losing season. A lot of things went wrong for the Raiders this season, one of which being the fact that they were plagued by injuries including Hayden who missed a massive amount of time. Before Hayden was injured he logged 26 tackles and one interception as well as two defended passes. His first NFL interception was against San Diego Chargers’ quarterback Phillip Rivers. Hayden was placed on the injured reserve list after undergoing sports hernia surgery. What was increasingly frustrating about losing him with six games remaining in the season was that he was looked to be coming along well during the season. Slowly, but he was coming along. His progress was somewhat infuriating at the same time. His game was improving but one could still see that he was a split second behind making the play in most instances. It almost seemed as though he was second guessing himself and that lack of confidence definitely hurt him. He wasn’t finishing plays, but one could see that his timing was coming together and once that confidence falls into place, he’ll be batting balls down and making some serious plays. This off season will be really vital in the healing process for Hayden. Once he’s healthy and can get out there to continue his progress, I think Raider Nation will be in for a pleasant surprise come the start of the 2014 season. He came so close to being the real deal this season and it was unfortunate that he sustained another injury when he did. Hopefully, Hayden has all the time he needs to heal from his injury and he’s spending his offseason studying the game and bulking up so he doesn’t get injured again. I think that he’s going to hit the ground running next year as it seems as though he didn’t get to get that chip off his shoulder in the 2013 season so he still has something to prove to his team, to Raider Nation, and to himself. A healthy Hayden on the Raiders defense will definitely be something to look forward to and hopefully will result in more interceptions. Would definitely be exciting to see him pick up his progress right where he left off and just conquer that confidence issue and act rather than hesitate. That hesitation gives the wide receiver the chance to walk away with the ball. It definitely gives Raider Nation a source of optimism to look forward to seeing a healthy Hayden take the field next season. You may also be interested in:Raiders hope DJ Hayden the sequel is much better than the originalCould any of these top-10 free agents in 2014 help the Oakland Raiders?Top 5 off season dates for Oakland Raiders fans to be aware of
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Pete Carroll empathizes with Belichick, Pats in Deflategate

Max Scherzer thanks Tigers with full page newspaper ad

Ray Lewis: Patriots should have asterisk for cheating

Report: Cavs players believed team lacked depth

Richard Sherman calls out Kraft, Goodell over their friendship

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Brandon Jennings to miss 6-9 months with Achilles injury

Report: Josh Gordon tests positive for alcohol

Report: Yankees reject A-Rod's request for apology meeting

Jim Harbaugh has landed three recruits in 24 hours

Report: NFL tried to catch Patriots in the act

John Harbaugh: Bill Belichick is best coach of this century

49 Stops to Super Bowl XLIX

WATCH: Opposing Packers celebrate Pro Bowl TD

WATCH: Sherman, Peterson hug it out at Pro Bowl

WATCH: Chris Berman is not happy at the Pro Bowl

PHOTO: Brock Lesnar's tramp stamp says ‘Kill ‘em All’

WATCH: Hassan Whiteside blocks five shots in 7 minutes

Duke unveils 'K' hats after Coach K's 1,000th victory

Irina Shayk dumped Ronaldo over cheating rumors?

Mike Napoli almost retired because of sleep apnea

WATCH: 'Saturday Night Live' takes on Deflategate

Should Tom Izzo be worried about his Spartans?

Five potentially fatal flaws for Seahawks in the Super Bowl

NFL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

49 Stops to Super Bowl XLIX

Chris Berman isn't happy at the Pro Bowl

Brandon Jennings out 6-9 months

Josh Gordon tests positive for alcohol

Report: A-Rod's apology meeting request gets rejected

Harbaugh rapidly landing recruits

WATCH: 'SNL' spoofs Deflategate

NFL tried to catch Pats in act?

Bill Nye: Belichick didn't make sense

Is it time for Tom Izzo to worry?

Jennings suffers horrific injury

Seahawks GM: I love Lynch's act

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.