By JOHN OEHSER, Senior Writer, jaguars.com
JACKSONVILLE – D.J. Hayden has a difficult task.
He also has the pedigree – and confidence — to handle it, and the sixth-year veteran cornerback said he understands the importance of doing so.
Hayden, who spent last season with the Detroit Lions, on Thursday morning officially signed with the Jaguars as an unrestricted free agent. He will have a chance to fit into one of the NFL’s best secondaries.
He also will have a chance to do so as the team’s nickel corner.
“I’m coming in to work hard and make plays,” Hayden said Thursday shortly after officially signing with the Jaguars. “They already have one of the best defenses, a top 5 defense in the league. I’m just going to be an addition to that.”
Hayden (5-feet-11, 190 pounds), a first-round selection (No. 12 overall) by the Oakland Raiders in the 2013 NFL Draft, may replace veteran Aaron Colvin at the Jaguars’ nickel corner position. Colvin reportedly will sign with the Houston Texans as an unrestricted free agent.
Hayden, who played collegiately at Houston, spent his first four NFL seasons with the Raiders and started of 25 of 45 games. He intercepted three passes and defensed 20.
He spent last season with the Lions, playing in all 16 games. He defended nine passes and recovered two fumbles, returning a fumble 27 yards for a touchdown in a 27-24 victory over Chicago.
“This is a great team that they are building, and I’m just glad that they want me to be a part of it,” Hayden said. “I’m going to try to get us to the Super Bowl.”
Hayden helped coach Nick Bobeck’s 2010 Navarro Bulldogs win the NJCAA Championship with three interceptions, and made an immediate impact as a junior at The University of Houston, where he earned Conference USA’s Defensive Player of the Year and second-team all-conference honors for the 13-1 Cougars with a team-high 11 breakups and finishing seventh nationally in forced fumbles (5).