The Raiders are thinking about contract extensions for defensive end Khalil Mack, quarterback Derek Carr and guard Gabe Jackson, so it’s fair to say that General Manager Reggie McKenzie hit on his first three picks of the 2014 draft.
The same can’t be said of the team’s first pick from 2013. Cornerback D.J. Hayden was McKenzie’s first first-round pick running the personnel department for the Raiders and his four years with the team were marked by injuries and ineffectiveness. McKenzie said last week that the former contributed to the latter by sapping Hayden of confidence he needed to “really thrive” in Oakland.
“I think he probably made a good decision by getting away from Oakland,” McKenzie said, via Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press. “Fresh start. … I think from the neck up, from him just knowing, ‘I’m going to be confident, I’m going to be able to take this away,’ it’s just him just gaining that confidence. I think Detroit, if they do it right, they’re going to get the best out of him.”
Hayden’s lack of confidence was likely a factor in the frequency he drew flags for pass interference and holding over the last two seasons, a habit that’s not likely to win him much favor in Detroit if it continues. That leaves the Lions to hope that McKenzie’s 2017 evaluation of where Hayden is as a player works out better than the 2013 version.