NFL Draft littered with potential cornerback starters, even in middle rounds
When a player talks about how he is dying to play football, he doesn't mean like this.
During a routine University of Houston practice Nov. 6, star cornerback D.J. Hayden was defending a pass when he collided with a safety, whose knee struck him in the chest. Doctors later told him the force was equal to a high-speed car accident.
“I fell to the ground. The doctor was asking me questions and I was getting real cold,” Hayden aid. “My left eye goes pitch black. I'm praying, ‘Lord, help me get out of this one.' ”
Told at the nearby hospital there was a considerable amount of blood in his abdomen and an operation was necessary, he had only one thought: “OK, just don't mess my abs up.”
Once the operation began, doctors determined the main vein to his heart was torn. The condition is 95 percent fatal, he was told, but Hayden lived.
And, on Thursday, only 51⁄2 months later, he could be one of the top three cornerbacks chosen in the NFL Draft.
Talk about a miracle recovery.
“Veins heal pretty quickly,” Hayden said. “Once they're healed, they're healed.”
Because of that — and his 4.3 post-recovery time in the 40-yard dash — teams don't seem to have any fears that Hayden will have any long-term effects from what truly was a freakish on-field accident.
“I think as horrific as the whole thing was, most of the teams have come to the conclusion that it was a once-in-a-gazillion situation that has no more chance of being replicated than it did (occurring) in the first place,” NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock said.
There was even some last-minute speculation that Hayden could wind up being the first cornerback taken, although Dee Milliner of Alabama has been regarded as the top player — and a top 10 pick — for months.
But Milliner still is healing from surgery last month to repair a torn labrum, and he might not be ready for the start of training camp. That was causing him to fall in mock drafts, though it was difficult to judge whether teams suddenly might be hesitant to take him so early.
Milliner started only half of Alabama's games in 2011, but was an All-American last season — a physical, disruptive defender who broke up 22 passes for the national champions.
“I feel like I am the best DB in all of this,” Milliner said. “No offense to all them other DBs. (It's) just I believe in what I can do and all the plays I can make.”
There's enough talent in the 2013 cornerback class that starters could be found well into the third round.
And what about the Honey Badger?
Tyrann Mathieu, the 2011 Heisman Trophy finalist who was kicked off the LSU team last summer and subsequently arrested on drug charges, is draft eligible. There are countless questions about his character, judgment and substance abuse problems, but it's likely some team will take him in a middle round.
Alan Robinson is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @arobinson_Trib.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Steelers running back blunt about focusing on football
- Steelers have plenty of new faces at wide receiver
- Why Steelers will — or won’t — snap out of their funk
- For Steelers outside linebacker Jones, size is not an obstacle
- Steelers notebook: Team cuts 15 players, including LB So’oto, RB Hall
- Steelers cornerbacks Allen, Gay, Taylor have something to prove
- In last preseason game, a final audition for some Steelers
- Steelers’ Polamalu downplays emotional outburst
- Steelers notebook: Polamalu’s sideline tirade still making impression on teammates
- Steelers’ Mitchell enduring growing pains
- Tomlin: ‘Everything on table’ for Bell, Blount punishment