Why It Is Too Early to Grade Oakland Raiders’ First-Round Pick D.J. Hayden

With Oakland Raiders cornerback D.J. Hayden having been placed on injured reserve Wednesday, his rookie NFL campaign has come to an early end.

With the NFL being a "what have you done for me lately" league, there will certainly be a wealth of premature conclusions being drawn about both Hayden as a player and the Raiders' decision to select him as early as they did in the draft.

After Hayden had experienced some struggles this season, many of the evaluations of Hayden's play are certain to focus on his negatives in criticizing what was an extremely important first-round pick for the Raiders organization.

Simply put, it is far too early to tell either way.

Heading into the 2013 NFL draft, there were plenty of questions surrounding Hayden's health after suffering a scary injury during his final season at the University of Houston.

Just a few months after the injury, he was medically cleared by NFL team doctors, and his football talent again became the primary point of analysis in his pro projections and evaluations.

At that point, NFL Network draft expert Mike Mayock moved Hayden up to the No. 1 spot in his cornerback rankings, showing just how highly Hayden's ability was considered—and deservedly so.

Throughout his collegiate career, Hayden established himself as a cornerback who could do it all, excelling in both zone and man coverage while possessing the necessary ball skills in covering receivers and contributing in run support as well.

Undoubtedly, Hayden was the kind of player the Raiders could use to rebuild a secondary that needed help in the worst way.

On draft day, general manager Reggie McKenzie traded down from the third spot to the 12th in the first round, still getting his original target in Hayden while picking up an additional second-round selection in the process.

All things considered...

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