Recently, it was revealed that number one draft pick Jadeveon Clowney played through a sports hernia last year. Heading into the draft there was a lot of talk about whether or not he was playing his hardest since he had such a lackluster season. As it turns out, he was not healthy but tried to play through it and the results were telling.
But we are not here to talk about Clowney, we are here to talk about Oakland Raiders cornerback D.J. Hayden. A first round pick himself, Hayden also had a very bad season in 2013 while also suffering from a sports hernia. The difference is, Hayden went on the injured reserve list when he got the sports hernia.
Now clearly, there are different levels of injuries and though they both had a sports hernia, it does not mean that the level of the injury was the same. But nonetheless, there is legitimate cause for concern about Hayden’s injuries.
He missed offseason workouts in 2013 due to a minor surgery to remove scar tissue from his chest that was the result of the near death injury he sustained in college. That is clearly something that will not be a recurring issue, but all the same it took him a rather long time to recover and that is a reason to be less than ecstatic.
Then he missed half of the season on the injured reserve after only starting in two games for the Silver and Black. For a first round pick that is a pretty bad rookie season. But many kept hope alive that it was all just the result of taking a while to get fully back in shape after he missed so much time with the heart injury that nearly ended his life.
As the offseason progressed, pictures of a clearly bigger and more buff Hayden began to appear and many became excited. With a full offseason to recover, it appeared as though Hayden had put in good work and was ready to return a stronger player.
Then he hurt his ankle and spent most of this year’s offseason workouts in a walking boot.
Head coach Dennis Allen has said that Hayden should be back in time for training camp, but that is yet to be seen. Hopefully the coaching staff was being overly cautious with Hayden by not letting him practice at all during the offseason workouts. But either way, he missed important time that ideally he would have spent learning his trade.
In just over a year with the Raiders organization, Hayden has missed significantly more time than he has spent working with the team. He is still young and has a lot of upside so it is far too early to label him a bust. But at the same time, there is legitimate reason to be concern about whether or not Hayden will be ready to go this season. And even more concern about whether or not he will ever reach his potential and draft status.