D.J. Hayden stood as a tough challenge for teams and scouts alike. When you put his game tape on, he leapt off the screen -- in just two years with Houston, after a move from the JUCO ranks, he picked off six passes and constantly made plays on the football.
But Hayden also nearly died back in November, when a collision in practice caused a tear of a major artery. The months since then have been a slow climb back to 100 percent, which is why he again began to shoot up some draft boards late in the process.
Heading into Round 1 on Thursday, there was some buzz that the Raiders would take Hayden at No. 3 overall. This is a more understandable spot, at No. 12, though some would argue he's a better player than Dee Milliner, who was taken just three spots higher by the Jets.
The Raiders' list of needs runs on forever, as they're in the midst of a massive rebuilding project. Hayden is a step in the right direction.
Grade: B-plus. Assuming that Hayden is (and stays) healthy, he might be the best CB to come out of this draft. And considering that the Raiders are in a division that features Peyton Manning, Philip Rivers and now Alex Smith, they need some players who can defend the pass. Oakland needs to make sure it hits on that second-round pick it received in trading down from No. 3, though. Otherwise, this may not be enough value out of that move.