Last November, Houston cornerback DJ Hayden tore a vein near his heart in practice and had to be rushed to the hospital.
It was a freak injury on a routine collision.
A teammate’s helmet slammed into Hayden’s chest. He didn’t have any visible injuries, KHOU reports, but the main vein that pumps blood to his lower body was ruptured.
According to team physician Walter Lowe, 95% of people who have that injury die before they get to medical care, and it’s typically seen in car crashes and battlefields, not football fields..
Lowe called it a “miracle” that Hayden survived.
Now, six months after the injury and a few hours before the NFL Draft, Hayden’s draft stock is soaring.
Most experts have him going in the mid-to-late first round, but some think he could get picked as high as No. 12 to Miami. Regardless of where he goes, most expect him to be the second cornerback taken after Alabama’s Dee Milliner.
It’s a sudden rise for Hayden.
Back in November, it was unclear if he would ever play again.
As recently as February, Rob Rang of CBS Sports guessed that if everything fell perfectly into place and he had no lingering medical concerns, Hayden could be a second-round pick.
This week, he firmly planted himself in the first round.
ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr., who had Hayden as one of his “risers” in a chat today, said Hayden has one valuable skill (coverage) and that’s why people love him, saying, “Good cover guy, not great tackler, not great support, but a real good cover guy, and in this league, that’s what you need.”
Doctors said at the time that it’d take him a year to fully recover. But even if he’s not ready by the beginning of the 2013 season, the fact that he’s convinced NFL teams that he’s worth the risk is incredible.
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