DJ Hayden    CB   Houston   

TALENT BOARD ROUND  1

 

STRENGTHS

DJ plays the cornerback position effortlessly.  When he goes into his backpedal, his shoulders and hips never move or change position, that's how smooth he is.  You can draw a straight line on the screen while you watch DJ go into his backpedal and you will see his shoulders never bounce off that line.  He flips his hips as easy as a person flips a coin and his shoulders don't change height.  This allows him to drive into his first step and stay with receivers with ease.  He has excellent size and that quick twitch you love to see in a pure cover corner DB with great recovery speed.  DJ is a good tackler and will come up to support the run quickly. He is smart; he understands down and distance and is willing to give up the 8 yard catch to stop a ten yard 1st down gain.  DJ plays zone coverage as well as single coverage.  He doesn't use his hands as much as some of the top corners in this draft do, which will allow him not to be taken advantage of and help him avoid penalties.  He has good hands to make the interception and already understands how to read receivers as they go down the field.  DJ is one of the best and complete corners in this draft; unfortunately, there is one big issue that has clouded his career.

 

CONCERNS

DJ had a serious heart injury this year.  He has been able to workout and is awaiting full medical clearance.  If drafted, DJ will be one of the better corners in this draft; however, he will need to deal with this issue mentally as well as physically. DJ will struggle until he gets hit that first time and finds out that he's able to withstand the physical contact.  It will no doubt weigh on his mind; there will be no time table for his recovery mentally, but there will be for him to recover physically.  Because he has worked out for the NFL teams in his pro day, I would assume that physically, he is close to full recovery.  However, this type of injury was impact related, so the mental aspect of recovery will be the hardest to overcome.  The other concern may be the lack of NFL potential receivers DJ has gone up against.  If he had been clear to play in the Senior Bowl, that issue might have been addressed but since he was not able to play, teams will have concerns and this too will affect his status. 

 

BOTTOM LINE

DJ is so smooth and plays with such little extra effort that it's hard to notice him on the field sometimes. Like I said, he can play up on the line of scrimmage or off and because his tackling skills are solid, he could play more than one position in your defensive backfield.  I have not seen him play special teams, but I just bet he would be excellent returning punts as well because he has the speed and quickness to make people miss in a tight space. DJ has no problem being left on an island against the best receiver on the field.  Because of DJ's medical issue, I'm not sure what round DJ will be selected in, so keep track of his name on Rob's board.  The big issue will be how fast DJ can deal mentally with playing an impact sport that was directly related to the freak injury to his heart.  I suspect he will succeed because he is smart and his very mature play on the field sends a signal to me that he will handle it in time.  I'm sure after a period of time, all of this will be just a story that he tells his children and grandchildren of how he overcame a life threatening injury to be a hell of a football player in the NFL.  For me personally, the top corners are: 1) Jamar Taylor 2) Dee Milliner 3) Johnathan Banks 4) DJ Hayden. 5) Desmond Trufant 6) Xavier Rhodes, all with 1st round talent.  That doesn't mean they all will be selected in the first round, but it does mean that they all have the ability to start and impact right away for the teams that draft them.  It's still early and I have more players to look at, but that's how it sits in my mind right now.  In spite of what you hear about this draft, there is an unusual amount of excellent talent in this draft.

 

Drew “The B.S. Detector” Boylhart

Mar/2013