Detroit Was Hoping For More Out Of Cornerback D.J. Hayden In 2017.
Before the 2017 NFL Draft, Detroit only had three viable cornerbacks on the team: Quandre Diggs, Nevin Lawson, and Darius Slay. Behind them wasn’t much depth, and Detroit addressed those changes with drafting rookie Teez Tabor out of Florida and signing free agent D.J. Hayden to a one year contract.
Detroit was doing another “prove it” type of deal, one they have been doing with some players on their team, like Rafael Bush, Kerry Hyder, just to name a few. While Bush did prove it, and go back to New Orleans, and Hyder suffered a season-ending injury with a torn Achilles, Hayden was able to play the full year and hasn’t decided if he will return to Detroit in 2018.
D.J. Hayden’s Second Chance Wasn’t Much
After overcoming a life-threatening injury that was a torn inferior vena cava in his heart, Hayden was drafted by the Oakland Raiders in the first round. His first two seasons were well, but he started to fall off in 2015, and after the 2016 season, the Raiders would let him go.
Detroit and general manager Bob Quinn are all about giving players a chance to prove themselves with one year contracts, and Quinn figured he would give Hayden that shot in 2017. Hayden would only start one game, but appear in all 16, and finish with 42 total tackles, nine pass deflections, two fumble recoveries, and one returned for a touchdown.
With rookie Tabor in the background, Hayden could have seen the Lions had a future plan with the player from Florida, but he wanted to still prove himself. He struggled in coverage and wasn’t the best depth cornerback that was on the team.
Re-Sign Or Rebuild D.J. Hayden?
Rebuild. Detroit has Tabor to take over the same spot that Hayden did, and with Tabor getting more playing time as the season went on and showing signs of improvement, he is the safe bet to replace Hayden on the roster.
Now Detroit could go into free agency and try and get a smaller known cornerback to take on the number three/four spot. Players like Davon House, Morris Claiborne, and Johnson Bademosi could be options.
If they decide to look at rookies in the upcoming draft, they will have to look after the fourth round as other needs are more important to the team, and with Tabor doing well they might just need another body behind him for depth. A few of many options for the team could be Jamarcus King from South Carolina, Dane Cruikshank from Arizona, or Nik Needham from UTEP.