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NFL Draft’s Potential Patriots: Houston CB D.J. Hayden

04.14.13 at 7:08 am ET
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WEEI.com will continue to offer daily insight and analysis regarding options that might be available to the Patriots when it comes to the 2013 NFL draft. Here is one is a series of profiles of players who could be on the board when it’€™s time for the Patriots to make a selection.

D.J. HAYDEN

Position: Cornerback

School: Houston

Height: 5-foot-11

Weight: 191 pounds

Achievements: 2012 All-Conference USA first team, 2011 C-USA Defensive Newcomer of the Year, 2011 All-C-USA second team

What he brings: Hayden still is recovering from a freak injury he suffered in practice in November, and he did not work out at the combine. In the nine games he did start in 2012, he had four interceptions and eight pass breakups. He’s been praised for his impressive instincts, speed and awareness on the field, which make him a strong defender against the run. His size and strength are just average for the position, and that combined with the injury could prevent scouts from seeing him as elite. But NFL.com notes he’s a tougher, stronger tackler than his size indicates, and if teams are confident in his health, his draft stock could continue to rise. He strengthened his case at Houston’s pro day last month, running a reported 4.33 40-yard dash.

Where the Patriots could get him: Round 3

Notes: Hayden collided with a teammate in practice and tore his inferior vena cava — the vein that carries deoxygenated blood from the lower body to the heart — in November. Because of the way veins heal, he doesn’t run a risk of repeating the same injury, an injury that’s usually suffered in car crashes and has a 95 percent fatality rate. His sternum is still healing, which made working out impossible for a time, but after dropping to 167 pounds, he’s now back up to 191. It’s hard to predict whether this injury will have any long-term implications, since most people who tear their inferior vena cava don’t live to tell about it, much less play football, but so far Hayden has done all the right things to get back to his pre-injury level.

Related articles: WEEI.com: Alive and well: Cornerback prospect DJ Hayden proves his heart at combine

Yahoo! Sports: Cornerback D.J. Hayden excels at Houston’s Pro Day months after near-fatal heart injury

Houston Chronicle: Cougars honor injured teammate Hayden

Video: Here’s a look at Hayden in action vs. UCLA in 2012.

Read More: 2013 NFL draft, 2013 Potential Patriots, DJ Hayden,
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