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Raiders snag LB in third round

The Raiders selected Connecticut linebacker Sio Moore with their third-round draft pick, No. 66 overall.

Moore, 6-foot-1, 245 pounds, was a three-year starter for UConn with 274 tackles, including 43 for losses.

A participant in the Senior Bowl, where the Raiders staff coached one of the teams, Moore told reporters at the NFL scouting combine he thought the experience benefited him in terms of competing against the best college players.

“I had very little time to really make my case, so the first thing I wanted to do once I got out there was to make sure that I showed guys that I’m here and a good ballplayer,” Moore said. “I felt like I got overlooked, but I was glad to have the opportunity and show guys what I’m able to do against top-tier talent. It was an honor as well as a challenge.”

Moore described his playing style to reporters at the NFL scouting combine:

“When I go out and play football, I play (angry). I play with a passion to win and the passion to give everything I have to my teammates.”

Moore joins a crowded group of linebackers along with returnee Miles Burris and free agent signees Nick Roach, Kevin Burnett and Kaluka Maiava.

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4

Raiders select OT in second round

The Raiders selected Florida State offensive lineman Menelik Watson on Friday with their second-round draft pick, No. 42 overall.

The pick was acquired from the Miami Dolphins Thursday, enabling the Raiders to select D.J. Hayden at No. 2 while Miami took Dion Jordan with the third pick.

Watson, 24, had a first-round grade with some analysts but is not considered a polished player.

A native of Manchester, England, Watson (6-foot-5, 310 pounds) got a basketball scholarship to Marist College, played for one season after a redshirt year, and then pursued football at Saddleback College in Mission Viejo (Orange County). Watson played soccer during his youth in England.

Watson, who played right tackle at Florida State, will likely compete with Khalif Barnes on the right side for the Raiders, with Jared Veldheer entrenched on the left side.

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387

Reggie McKenzie on D.J. Hayden

Raiders general manager discussed the selection of D.J. Hayden Thursday night with the local media:

Q: Was Hayden the guy you targeted all along and you just though you could get him lower?

McKenzie: We targeted him. Now, to pick up an extra pick was a bonus.

Q: What about Hayden appealed to you and how much caution did his heart scare give you?

McKenzie: Of course we researched the health issues. Now, everything we got back from that standpoint was more than positive so it became a non-issue for us in that regard. He’s gonna have to mentally go through it now, that’s the only issue we had. As far as what we liked about him – the guy can cover. Point blank, he can cover. He can find the football so he does what we’re looking for in a cornerback – he’s a good cover corner who can get his hands on the football.”

Q: Did the way he survived the heart scare and pulled through it, did that raise his stock in your eyes?

McKenzie: No, I don’t think it raised his stock. It showed up how competitive and how aggressively he went after it to try to get back to his old self. It showed that but it didn’t raise his stock as far as being an overcomer.

Q: There’s a lot of good 5-11 corners in the NFL but it seems the prototype is taller corners. Can Hayden cover at the NFL level?

McKenzie: Yes. That’s why we drafted him. The thing with him, his man cover skills is what set him apart for us. He don’t lose a guy. He’s quick and he’s fast and he’s tough and aggressive in his play. So, from that standpoint we have zero issues.

Q: If a deal couldn’t be worked out, would you have taken Hayden at 3?

McKenzie: Yes.

Q: Was cornerback a position of need, or this guy too good to pass up?

McKenzie: You guys know me. I’m gonna get the best player. Once we declare our draft board, we’re gonna follow it. We’re not gonna try to fill this need and fill that need and go into the offseason saying ‘We got players that we needed.’ We want to get players that we think make a difference. We want difference-makers, guys that can make plays. And that’s where he was on our board.

Q: Getting a lot of offers for No. 3?

McKenzie: No, in the end, the offers dwindled, and some of the offers didn’t make sense. But this one made sense.

Q: This is a no-doubt pick, right?

McKenzie: Use your words: no doubt.

Q: Any hesitation whatsoever knowing his medical history?

McKenzie: It really wasn’t with me. Had a chance to bring him in, had many conversations, took him out to dinner – just to get to know the guy. We went down to his pro day and had one of my personnel guys take him out. We knew the guy. So researching that part, our doctors did a great job in researching all the medical stuff. So from that standpoint, it was a non-issue. Then when we put on the tape, which is how we make decisions, it became prevalent that that’s our guy.

Q: What can you say about his drive based on what he overcame?

McKenzie: It says a lot for his drive. It says a lot for his fortitude. He’s a want to guy. It says a lot about that but you still have to strap on the pads and make plays.

Q: Picking up a second rounder a priority?

McKenzie: To pick up some picks was a top priority. Whether that would have been a 2? We’re excited to get the two? Absolutely. We didn’t know which way the picks were coming especially from the conversations that we’ve had leading up to it. A lot of the offers didn’t make sense but this one did. We’re happy to get that two.

Q: Is he cleared to practice immediately?

McKenzie: He’s totally cleared.

Q: Nervous waiting to see if he’d still be there at 12?

McKenzie: Yes.I had an inkling that when you lose a player like Darrelle Revis I could see where they would pick a corner. But they went with the other guy and we got our guy.

Q: Who would you have taken if not there?

McKenzie: I’m going to say no comment on that one. When you move back you kind of have guys ranked in the area. We had some guys if our guy wasn’t there we had about five guys we were going to look into.

Q: What is his personality like?

McKenzie: He came across. What I look for is is he approachable. Does it seem like he will be one of those guys that’s going to be coachable and be a worker. Does he really like football? Is he going to come and get after it. He definitely showed that. I already knew the answer by the research we had from his past coaches and all our scouts dig and all that information. You watch him play you can tell the guy loves football. But sometimes you also like to look in a guy’s eyes when he tells you answers and he passed.

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384

Raiders draft cornerback D.J. Hayden

The Raiders selected Houston cornerback D.J. Hayden Thursday night with their first choice in the NFL draft, No. 12 overall.

Hayden nearly lost his life in a freak injury during practice last Nov. 6. Kneed in the chest, Hayden, sustained a tear of his inferior vena cava, the large vein that carries blood from the lower half of the body to the heart.

“I’m looking around and I’m getting real sleepy,’’ Hayden told reporters at the NFL scouting combine. “My left eye goes pitch black. I can’t see out of it . . . I’m praying, `Lord, help me get out of this one.’ ‘’

“The doctor said he was going to have to cut me open. I said, ‘Okay, just don’t mess my abs up.’ . . . they saw the vein was torn. They stitched it back together and here I am today.’’

Surgeons at the Memorial Hermann Texas Trauma Center saved Hayden’s life. The injury is said to have a 95 percent fatality rate.

Hayden didn’t work out at the scouting combine, but was able to work out for scouts, get cleared medically and clock a 4.33 time in the 40-yard dash.

Before the injury, Hayden was considered the top cornerback in the country. His performance in offseason workouts caused his stock to steadily grow, and CBSSports.com reported the Raiders were even considering Hayden at No. 3.

Hayden was the Conference USA Defensive Newcomer of the Year in 2011. He had six interceptions in 23 games for Houston, returning two for touchdowns.

One of the weakest units on the Raiders last season, the Raiders now have Hayden and free agent acquisitions Tracy Porter and Mike Jenkins at cornerback.

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