Are the Browns targeting Joe Haden?

Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer writes that Florida cornerback Joe Haden could be a perfect complement to Eric Wright in the Browns’ secondary. ESPN’s Mel Kiper agrees.

ESPN draft expert Mel Kiper Jr. predicts the Browns will take Haden in his current mock draft, compiled before the Combine.

“Joe Haden makes the most sense, in terms of value,” Kiper said on a conference call. “We don’t know if he’s going to be Darrelle Revis [of the Jets] or [Oakland’s] Nnamdi Asomugha. They’re the two best cover corners in the NFL right now. They didn’t [get drafted] in the top 10. But Haden will.

“Haden has potential to be an elite corner. He’s a complete corner, effective on the blitz, outstanding in coverage.”
“I haven’t done a lot of work on him yet, but obviously he’s highly regarded, so we’ll look seriously at him,” Browns coach Eric Mangini said at the Combine.

Browns General Manager Tom Heckert has studied him enough to be impressed.

“He’s a heckuva football player,” said Heckert. “He’s one of the top corners, if not the top corner in the draft. He’s played at a big-time program and they won a lot of games. He’s going to go early.”

Some people absolutely love Haden and say that he’s the safest pick in the top 10. Others, like the NFL Network’s Mike Mayock, believe he’s a borderline top-ten pick and that there’s some concern about Haden’s forty time. (Haden ran a 4.34 in high school, but Mayock says that he might only run a 4.52 or 4.55.)

That said, there’s no question that Haden is the top corner in this year’s draft and reminds me of Darrelle Revis. He racked up a ton of experience playing against top competition while at Florida and he has the ability to be a shutdown corner if he can develop. While having a good forty is important for defensive backs, it’s not everything and I doubt that teams would pass on him just because he ran a slower time (although if molasses beats him, then there could be a problem).

He seems like a perfect fit for the Browns.

Photo from fOTOGLIF

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