One of the positives to come out of the game was the play of second-year cornerback D.J. Hayden.
Hayden got his first snaps of the season in week eight, but didn’t see extended snaps until this last week against the Seahawks. He was out since offseason workouts after having to have surgery on his injured foot.
Hayden started the game as the third cornerback, playing in the slot before having to take over on the outside due to an injury to rookie cornerback TJ Carrie. Throughout the game, Hayden racked up seven tackles and two passes defensed.
Hayden also had a couple of costly penalties - a pass interference call when defending Jermaine Kearse deep down the right sideline; and a taunting penalty after laying a hard hit on the ball carrier despite it being a first down.
Despite the penalties, Hayden played well and was a great addition to have back in the secondary. He displayed great the great instincts in the defensive backfield that the Raiders hoped they were getting when they drafted him 12th-overall in the 2013 NFL Draft.
On the play where he got called for pass interference, Hayden displayed his speed and ability to stay with the receiver by staying with him step-for-step but was unable to turn his head and locate the ball. He was in position to make the play, just didn’t get his head around and ended up being called for a penalty. This could very well have been the result of lacking time on the practice field.
The young corner also displayed great instincts in the third quarter when he broke on a ball from Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson but had the ball go through his hands. Had he been able to make the interception, he had nothing but green grass in front of him for a more-than-likely pick-6. This could also be due to a lack of time hauling in balls from the jugs machine.
Hayden also showed the ability to identify the run when he came up to go for a tackle on the running back near the line of scrimmage, the only problem is he came up empty on the tackle. Even though he came up empty in bringing the runner down, it is still a good sign to see him having the instincts to get to the ball carrier near the line of scrimmage.
Another play that stuck out was Russell Wilson’s throw that hit Hayden right in the chest. Though he was unable to come away with the interception, once again dropping it, he showed the ability to be in the right position and around the ball. For obvious reasons, this is a key attribute for cornerbacks.
While the Raiders losses continue to pile up, there’s no doubt that there has been positives that can be taken away from the development of some of their young players.