Oakland Raiders cornerback D.J. Hayden, the team’s first-round pick in 2013, could be sidelined until training camp due to an right ankle injury, reports Steve Corkran of the San Jose Mercury News. Considered a possible starter going into this season, the setbacks likely make it more difficult for him to earn a job over the more experienced competition.
“It’s hard to tell,” Raiders coach Dennis Allen told Corkran. “Initially I was hopeful of (a quick return). Hopefully we’ll have him out here, because he needs the work.”
After trading down from the third overall pick with the Miami Dolphins to select 12th and 42nd, respectively, the Raiders used their new first-round pick to nab Hayden out of the University of Houston last year. Considered one of the top defensive backs in the draft, he was supposed to help address a group of cornerbacks that has lacked a star since the departure of Nnamdi Asomugha in 2012.
Instead, injuries became a consistent issue for Hayden from the beginning, with a groin injury eventually knocking out half of his season. Rather than make a statement, he started just two games and recorded 23 tackles, one forced fumble and one interception over the entire season.
Luckily for Hayden, the ankle injury isn’t the same as others that plagued him last season. He injured the ankle late last month during practice, where he’s been competing with new veterans Carlos Rogers and Tarell Brown for the starting cornerback spots vacated by Tracy Porter and Mike Jenkins.
That development likely puts Rogers and Brown ahead of Hayden for the time being, but given the investment that Oakland has already made in the young cornerback, don’t be surprised if Allen gives him some rope to take back a job. The Raiders are building for the future, after all, and that means maximizing value out of guys like Hayden.