I didn’t dance around my living room. But I also didn’t throw my hat at the TV. My reaction could best be characterized as an “eh… alright.”
Drafting Joe Haden wasn’t sexy, but it also wasn’t a reach. It was safe. There was a general consensus that there were six “elite” players in this year’s draft – Bradford, Suh, McCoy, Okung, Williams, and Berry. Unfortunately for Cleveland, the Browns picked 7th.
So with all of the elite players gone, the Browns found themselves in a limbo of sorts. Obviously, the first reaction is to trade down — but who wants to trade down to #7 when you get your first choice of the first non-elites available? Especially when it is known that there are eager trade partners sitting there at 10, 11, 12, and 13. The difference between the 7th pick and 11th pick could be $10-12 million in contract money.
Personally, I would have liked to take Texas safety Earl Thomas. The guy is a play maker and was Michael Reghi’s favorite player in the draft — I couldn’t imagine a better endorsement.
But apparently he wasn’t even in consideration. According to ESPN’s Michael Smith, the internal debate was between Joe Haden and Kyle Wilson. Haden was Heckert’s guy, and Wilson was Mangini’s guy. Mangini, the guy who drafted the best corner in the league, Darrelle Revis, reportedly claimed that Wilson was the closest thing to Revis he has seen since Revis. Holmgren must have played tiebreaker and sided with Heckert. And so, Joe Haden becomes the 2010 Browns first round selection.
I found the pick mildly funny too.
As soon as the Browns were pegged with the seventh overall selection, mock drafts ran rampant, as they always seem to do. Who was the overwhelming favorite for the Browns to take? Joe Haden.
Everyone – and I mean everyone – had the Browns taking Haden. Seriously. Everyone. It was boring as hell. I wanted someone to step out of the box, show me an alternative. But no, everyone had Haden – we needed a corner, and he was the best corner available. Easy pick. There were even debates about who the Browns would take if both Berry and Haden were available. And it was split.
Then what happened? Well, Haden ran a 4.6 at his pro-day. Suddenly, everyone backs off. The player they saw on tape must not have been who they thought. Haden claims he had a lower back strain. Everyone rolls their eyes – myself included. The Browns then go out and trade for Eagles cornerback Sheldon Brown. Haden no longer seemed to fit the bill.
Sure, Haden went out at his pro-day and ran a 4.4 a couple of weeks letter — “See! I told you I had a lower back strain! I swear!”. But no one seemed to listen or care. ESPN didn’t regard him as a top 10 pick, and the mock draft scene around the internet regarded the Haden-to-Browns scenario as nothing more than a distant memory.
So today we have come full circle, with Haden once again landing in the #7 spot when it really matters – Draft day.
But the fact remains: Haden is an All-American, All-SEC caliber football player. He was a three year starter at Florida while they competed for national championships (winning one) and proved to be a lock down corner. Now, out of nowhere, with top three corners of Wright, Brown and Haden… the cornerback position suddenly becomes a position of strength.
So when all is said and done, the Browns made a very solid pick at a position that could use the upgrade. It wasn’t the splash most fans hoped for, but its a respectable ripple.
So what grade do you give the Browns?