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Friday, April 26, 2013
Hayden to Raiders at 12, Pugh to NYG at 19

By Matt Fortuna

The Big East had one player taken in the NFL draft's first round Thursday night who never played a down in the Big East, while an ACC player who made his name in the Big East went a few picks later.

Houston cornerback D.J. Hayden completed his remarkable journey from near death to professional riches when the Oakland Raiders took him with the 12th overall pick. Syracuse left tackle Justin Pugh was taken seven picks later by the New York Giants at No. 19.

Earlier in the night, the Raiders had traded the No. 3 overall pick to the Miami Dolphins for the 12th and 42nd picks.

Hayden suffered a torn vein in his heart during practice last season, an injury that is most common in auto accidents and that generally has a 5 percent survival rate.

The Hayden family had a special reunion recently with the paramedics, firefighters and 9-1-1 operators who saved D.J.'s life, as the Houston Chronicle's Joseph Duarte wrote Wednesday.

Hayden's story will also be told during Sunday morning's "SportsCenter."

Pugh, meanwhile, validated his decision to pass up his final year of eligibility and ended up with coach Tom Coughlin, a Syracuse alumnus. He was named first-team All-Big East in each of the past two seasons, despite missing the first four games of the 2012 campaign following shoulder surgery. He could play either tackle or guard or for the Giants and should provide immediate depth to their offensive line.

Pugh is the highest former Orange player taken since 2002, when Dwight Freeney was taken by the Indianapolis Colts at No. 11.