The Oakland Raiders took former Houston cornerback last night, using the No 12 overall selection to get him.
According to respected evaluator Greg Cosell, of NFL Films, that was a good move.
"I would make the argument that Hayden is the most physically gifted corner prospect in this draft class, with his impressive combination of sudden movement, change of direction, ability to effectively play both press man and off coverage zone, competitive and challenging playing personality and, as an added dimension, his willingness to support in the run game aggressively," Cosell said of Hayden in this must read article about cornerbacks in the NFL (finish this piece, first, then go back and read his).
In the piece referenced above, Cosell delves into what attributes make a good cornerback in the NFL these days. He also talks about the importance of having a cornerback that can play in man to man coverage.
The basic thrust of his arguments are that a huge cornerback isn't necessarily the most desirable trait. While that type of cornerback is better against some types of receivers, the most important attributes are "quick and light feet, smooth and fluid change of direction, the ability to plant and drive with burst from off coverage position, and the capability to turn and run with both short area acceleration and functional long speed to defend vertical routes."
He postulates that most cornerbacks with those traits are shorter and sleeker instead of the larger cornerbacks that many would see as the prototypical size.
Cosell is my favorite evaluator because he takes the time to explain his reasoning and because he isn't caught into the group think to which so many succumb. He doesn't rely on organizational sources to determine his opinion as do so many draft evaluators. Instead, he watches lots of game tape and makes his own determinations.
That game tape review convinced him that Hayden deserved to be the top cornerback taken in the 2013 draft. In fact, in his first-round mock draft Cosell picked Hayden to be selected at No. 12 overall, although he had Hayden being selected by the Miami Dolphins, who originally possessed that selection.
In his reasoning, Cosell said about Hayden, "No corner has a more fluid and compact backpedal, with balance, body control and the quickest feet of any prospect in the draft."
Raiders GM Reggie McKenzie agreed, telling the Bay Area media yesterday, "Point blank, he can cover. He can find the football so he does what we’re looking for in a cornerback – he’s a good cover corner who can get his hands on the football.”
Raiders fans hope that McKenzie - and Cosell, too - know what they're talking about. If they are correct in the evaluation of Hayden, the Raiders have begun the process of building a team that can finally compete.
For more thoughts on the Raiders throughout the draft today tomorrow, follow me on Twitter @AsherMathews
If you want to judge cornerbacks - look no further than the Raiders history books. The way you can tell if a DB is a great back is he played for the Raiders.... Charles Woodson, Eric Allen, Hayes & Haynes, WIllie Brown, Rod Woodson, Ronnie Lott - all the greats end up on the Raiders eventually. For size you want a guy somewhere in the 5'11" - 6'2" range somewhere around 200lbs who can cover man to man. Using those guidelines, Hayden looks like a winner pick. And we certainly needed DBs after last years toast fest. I'm a little concerned about that life threatening injury he had just a few months ago and how that will affect his play - but if he turns into a solid corner - it's not a bad pick at 12.
Now - that said, allegedly Reggie wanted to pick him at #3(!) if he could get a trade. That would have been a reach. The real problem here however is pretty obvious - we didn't get enough for the #3 spot. I live in South Florida - so I see Dolphins news all the time, and let me tell you - they're basically celebrating how cheap they got the pick. Everyone agrees there should have been at least one other 2 thrown in and some are saying it should have been another 2 and a 6 or 7 as well. The value chart and history both say we should have got more. I think everyone agrees Miami blew it by picking the wrong guy - still... they had a lot of picks and a lot of money - we could have got more.
Now - THAT said - I still like the draft. Another high pick would have been nice and would have helped - but overall? We got some interesting players who look like they can contribute. I wouldn't have picked 2 QBs and 2 TEs - but generally the 6th and 7th rounds are crapshoots anyway. That's where you reach for the sky and hope you get a star.
I completely agree. At #3 Hayden would have been a reach. And what we got in return from the Dolphins was not enough, but given the circumstances McKenzie had to take what he could and getting a second round pick plus the guy he was after anyway should be considered a win. If Fisher or Joeckel were still available I think there would have been more trade options, but with those two gone the leverage McKenzie had was very limited.
As for the Hayden pick, I really like the pick and it would not surprise me at all if Hayden is the number one CB from this draft. I don't see the injury having any issues again in the future - it was simply a freak of an accident. The only worry about is that the injury holds him back and he doesn't play as hard as he may have before he was injured.
I was not expecting CB to be taken first round, but I can't fault the pick in anyway. Hayden has all the tools to be a number one CB and I think will be a starter from Day 1 with Porter and Newman battling out for the number two CB spot.