Browns beat writer Terry Pluto claims that Joe Haden is “very attractive” to the Browns, and could be their target with the 7th-overall selection in the draft. I can’t say this comes as a surprise to anyone, considering he’s the consensus pick for the Browns in most mock drafts, but I do feel the need to point out that Pluto doesn’t site any sources and it is extremely early for teams to be zeroing in on one or two prospects unless you’re the Rams or Lions.
Regardless of the credibility of Pluto’s report, Joe Haden would appear to be an option for the Browns. Eric Wright has one starting cornerback slots wrapped up, but the other side is wide open. Brandon McDonald has seen much of the playing time over the past two seasons but was benched this past year in favor of converted safety Mike Adams.
Considering that Eric Mangini selected Darrelle Revis in the 1st round in 2007, it would stand to reason that he may push for Haden. But it remains to be seen how much impact Mangini will have on the Browns offseason transactions.
Haden may be the cream of the crop among this year’s cornerbacks, but the fact remains he’s a risky selection in the top 10. Since 2000, only seven cornerbacks have been selected among the first 10 picks. And I have to wonder if any of their teams feel as though they got enough value out of that selection.
The reason for the lack of success from teams draft cornerbacks in the top 10 is the fact that a cornerback is what I refer to as a “secondary position”. What I mean by this is that a cornerback can only be as good as the players around him. Take the greatest cornerback of all time and put him on a team without a pass rush and he’ll struggle because he can only stay with his man for so long. No matter how good the cornerback is, if those around him don’t do their jobs he will have a minimal impact on the game.
An example of a “primary position” would be an offensive tackle. An elite tackle is capable of having a perfect game regardless of the performance of those around him. He has a set assignment on each play and he is capable of completing that task independent of anyone else on the field. These are the players that are typically worth high draft picks because they can succeed in a loosing environment – unlike the “secondary” players who need others to perform their task first in order to be successful.
Applying this to the Browns situation, Joe Haden can only be so effective while playing behind a front seven that doesn’t generate a consistent pass rush. The Browns front seven improved dramatically throughout the season, but there are still holes to fill. The value might not be there for them at No. 7 but, if they can trade down, a 3-4 linebacker such as Brandon Graham or Jason Pierre-Paul may actually be a better fit for their needs and a safer pick for a team in need of a complete overhaul on defense.