Reggie McKenzie and the Oakland Raiders found what they were looking for when they were on the clock in the 2013 NFL draft. They found a trade partner to move down from the third overall selection and acquire a second-round pick in exchange for swapping first-round picks.
That trade partner was the Miami Dolphins. The trade gave the Raiders the 12th pick in the draft and also got the Raiders the 42nd overall selection, coming in the second round on Friday night. The Raiders entered the draft without a pick in the second round, so it was crucial to the rebuilding process to get back in it.
After that was taken care of, the Raiders were back on the clock later Thursday night, and the man that many fans and experts pegged as their pick, Sharrif Floyd, was still available. Floyd would have filled needs across the defensive line with his versatility.
However, Oakland has many needs.
Among those needs is a cornerback. The best available CB entering the draft was Dee Milliner, who had been drafted by the New York Jets with the ninth overall selection. Surely Milliner would have been Oakland's target had he been available.
So who was next on Reggie McKenzie's draft board? That would be D.J. Hayden from the University of Houston.
Hayden is under six feet tall and under 200 pounds (5'11", 191 lbs). With size like that, Hayden would very likely not have been drafted by Oakland's previous regime in the first round.
But the Raiders no longer draft based on size, strength and speed alone.
Hayden survived a freak injury in college; a blood vessel in his heart ruptured because of a collision on the practice field. Within a week, Hayden was out of the hospital.
That is the kind of toughness and character that the new-look Raiders front office covets. Hayden is a hard worker and is medically cleared to return to football. He is the type of high-character guy that the Raiders want to rebuild with.
I have to admit, I never saw this pick coming. Especially after Dee Milliner was gone, it seemed logical to assume the Raiders would address the defensive front with guys like Floyd, Star Lotulelei and Jarvis Jones still available.
With a cornerback taken 12th overall, look for the Raiders to draft a pass-rusher on Friday night when they pick 10th in the second round via their aforementioned trade with the Miami Dolphins.
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