Can D.J. Hayden Bounce Back Against Washington?

The Oakland Raiders surprised a lot of people when they selected cornerback D.J. Hayden out of the University of Houston in the first round of the 2013 NFL draft. The Raiders traded down to No. 12 to select Hayden, but general manager Reggie McKenzie would later say he was prepared to take him with the third overall pick.

Needless to say, the Raiders were high on Hayden, but he missed a lot of training camp after having scar tissue removed from his abdomen—a generally non-serious result of the serious surgery he had last fall that saved his life. Hayden still made his debut Week 1, but not as the starter.

Through three games as Oakland's nickel cornerback, Hayden's performance hasn't been very impressive. Hayden has been playing on the right side with veteran Tracy Porter sliding inside to the slot and has yet to make the impact plays that had me comparing him to Darrelle Revis before the season. 

Hayden needs to bounce back in Week 4, and there's no reason to believe he can't. Hayden still has all the skills to be a great cornerback in the NFL, and every game is a learning experience. The cornerback position may be the toughest to transition from college to the NFL on the defensive side of the ball.

Hayden had an average performance in Week 1, a solid performance in Week 2 and a poor performance in Week 3 when he drew a matchup with one of the league's best wide receivers. Demaryius Thomas also happens to have the league's best quarterback throwing him the ball.

According to ProFootballFocus (subscription required), Hayden missed six tackles and was given a -4.9 coverage grade in Week 3. Hayden is now their 91st-rated cornerback out of the 95 that have played at least 25 percent of the time. Hayden is also the lowest-graded rookie on the list.

It's not exactly the way the Raiders probably hoped Hayden would start, but it's not the end of the world either. Three...

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