D.J. Hayden, DB
- Height: 6-foot-0
- Weight: 190 pounds
- School: Houston
After having his senior season cut short by a life-threatening injury, Hayden could be one of the biggest sleepers in the draft if he checks out medically. The playmaking cornerback helped Navarro College to the 2010 junior college national championship, then made an immediate impact with Houston the following season. With exceptional closing speed, Hayden led the Cougars with 11 pass breakups and finished seventh in the nation with five forced fumbles as a junior. He also ended up with 66 tackles - eight for loss - and two interceptions on the way to Conference USA defensive newcomer of the year honors. Hayden was having another great season in 2012, with 61 tackles, four interceptions - two returned for touchdowns - and eight pass breakups in nine games before a scary incident. He collided with a teammate in an early November practice and after having trouble breathing was rushed to the hospital. It turned out that he had a torn inferior vena cava, a major vein near the heart, which needed emergency surgery. Doctors told him the injury was 95 percent fatal. Hayden, who missed the rest of the season but was named to the All-Conference USA first team anyway, recovered fast enough to do some drills at Houston's pro day in March, running an impressive 40-yard dash in a reported 4.33 seconds. Scouts believe he has the quickness and coverage skills to compete for a starting job at the next level. In addition to his speed, Hayden has displayed an ability to outfight bigger receivers for the football and is a solid tackler for his small frame. He was likely an early-round draft pick before the freak accident, but his medical progress will now play a major role in his draft status.
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