Joe Haden

2010 Draft Grades: Browns

The Browns had to be devastated to see Eric Berry come off the board at No. 5 to the Chiefs. It left them without an obvious pick in the 1st round.

Joe Haden was an acceptable option, but a team with so many holes should avoid adding to an area of relative strength early in the draft. Eric Wright and Sheldon Brown are a solid duo of starting corners and, compared to the rest of the team, represent one of the few strengths on the depth chart.

T.J. Ward was a huge reach in the early 2nd round. Since high school his career has been filled with injuries. When healthy, he’s shown the ability to be a future NFL starter, but there’s no reason to believe that he’ll suddenly be able to stay out of the trainers room. It looks as though the Browns reached to fill a position of need.

I have the same criticisms of Montario Hardesty as I do about Ward. When healthy, he looks great. But he just can’t stay on the field. During his career he’s suffered a torn ACL, an ankle sprain and a broken leg. There’s just no reason to believe a running back with a history of injuries will be able to withstand the pounding of the NFL over the course of a 16-game season.

In the 3rd round they finally got their quarterback. While I think Colt McCoy could be a steal in the 3rd round, I’m actually not crazy about the pick. The Browns obviously had no intention of drafting McCoy, and Mike Holmgren hasn’t even tried to deny that fact. They never thought he’d be on the board at No. 85. Based on that fact, I don’t like the selection. If they don’t view McCoy as a potential franchise quarterback [he wasn't even the top player on their board at No. 85] then why take him at all? All this does is potentially dissuade them from spending their 2011 1st-round pick on a true franchise quarterback [Jake Locker? Ryan Mallett? Andrew Luck?].

Shaun Lauvoa was a great pickup in the late 3rd round. The former left tackle has an excellent chance to replace Pork Chop Womack as the starting right guard.

Larry Asante is a potential steal in the 5th round. He’s an ideal strong safety and should be able to contribute immediately on special teams and as Abram Elam’s backup.

I absolutely love the selection of Carlton Mitchell. He’s very raw, but he was mentioned as a potential 3d-round pick entering the draft based on potential alone. He has all the tools necessary to develop into a true No. 1 receiver – a position which the Browns are currently lacking.

Clifton Geathers has a chance to be another late-round steal. He’s a prototypical 3-4 defensive end. Kenyon Coleman and Robaire Smith don’t exactly have a stranglehold on the starting jobs, so Geathers could have an outside shot at winning a starting job before the season is over. That’s a lofty expectation for a 6th-round pick, but I think its a reasonable goal for Geathers.

Overall this was a fairly uninspiring draft for the Browns. If Colt McCoy develops into a future star, we’ll look at this draft as the turning point of the franchise, but the odds are greater that he never plays a game for the Browns. As a 3rd-round pick they have virtually nothing invested in him. They passed over him an injury-prone running back and safety – not exactly giving off the impression that they view him as the answer to their quarterback problems.

Ultimately the most disappointing aspect of this draft is the fact that Browns may not have landed a single player who will be a regular starter in 2010. Even Haden will have to beat out either Wright or Brown. For a team with so many holes to fill, that’s the very definition of a disappointing draft.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Browns, Draft Grades - 2010 1 Comment

There could be a run on cornerbacks in the 1st round

Just about every year there is a run on players from a certain position. This year we know a good number of offensive tackles and defensive linemen will go in the 1st round. Joining them, could be a number of cornerbacks.

Back in my first post-regular season mock draft in January I had only one cornerback in the 1st round – Joe Haden. Since then, Devin McCourty, Kyle Wilson, Patrick Robinson and Kareem Jackson have all entered the conversation. While I don’t believe all five deserve to be 1st-round selections, its not out of the question that they could all sneak into the top 32 picks.

Runs on a specific position happen when teams need to fill a position and are worried that they’ll be left with a significantly worse player by the time they’re on the clock again. For example, if the Eagles want a cornerback in the 1st round they may reach for Kareem Jackson rather than settle for Perrish Cox in the second round.

Just a few weeks ago it seemed reasonable to assume that only two cornerbacks would come off the board in the 1st round. So lets run through a scenario in which all five could come off the board.

10. Jaguars – Joe Haden
The Jaguars are definitely in the mix to land Haden. They need someone opposite Rashean Mathis, who turns 30 in August.

17. 49ers – Devin McCourty
There are reportedly a number of teams in the top 20 that have an interest in McCoury, and the 49ers are likely one of them. Nate Clements has been a huge disappointment, and was benched at one point in 2009. McCourty could allow them to part ways with him and enormous contract.

24. Eagles – Kyle Wilson
The Eagles traded arguably their best cornerback, Sheldon Brown, to the Browns in an effort to get younger on defense. However, it depleted their depth at cornerback in the process and left them with with Ellis Hobbs as their best option to start opposite Asante Samuel.

25. Ravens – Kareem Jackson
Both Lardarius Webb and Dominique Foxworth are coming off ACL injuries and may not be ready for the start of the season. Having two key injuries in their secondary has the Ravens worried, and they’ve done their homework on the majority of the top cornerbacks in this year’s class.

31. Vikings – Patrick Robinson
Robinson is the long shot of the group, but if the top four cornerbacks are off the board by No. 31 the Vikings may take chance on him. Depth at the position was a weakness of the Vikings in 2009 and to make matters worse Cedric Griffin’s season ended with a serious knee injury which could cause him to miss the start of the 2010 season. They’re desperate for help in the secondary and may not haveĀ  a choice but to add someone in the 1st round.

This is just one of multiple scenarios in which five corners could come off the board. Other teams such as the Titans, Steelers and Packers are also interested in cornerbacks early in the draft.

If a scenario such as this plays out, the real winners will be the teams drafting early in the 2nd round. A number of 1st-round talents will fall if teams start to reach for guys at a specific position. It could cause multiple big names to still be on the board on Friday.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2010 NFL Draft, 49ers, Eagles, Jaguars, Packers, Ravens, Vikings Comments Off

Titans eyeing a cornerback in the 1st round?

Nearly every mock draft out there has the Titans selecting a defensive lineman with the 16th pick in the draft. Jason Pierre-Paul and Derrick Morgan seem to be the popular choices, but do the Titans have something else in mind?

Tostitos Fiesta Bowl - TCU v Boise State

Is Wilson a 1st-round target of the Titans?

The Titans have used up numerous draft visits this spring on defensive backs including Joe Haden, Kyle Wilson and Earl Thomas who are all expected to be 1st-round selections.

You can’t read into draft visits too much but when a team pays this much attention to a specific position, its more than just a smoke screen. Based on the offseason acquisition of Tye Hill, the Titans clearly view cornerback as a position of need. Hill will compete for the starting job opposite Courtland Finnegan, but it won’t be handed to him. Jason McCourty and Rod Hood figure to be in the mix as well.

While Finnegan ranks among the game’s elite, the rest of the Titans secondary isn’t striking fear into opponents. In a division which features the high-powered offenses of the Colts and Texans, the Titans may view cornerback as a bigger weakness than the defensive line because of their competition.

Both positions seem to be high on the Titans wish list, but don’t be shocked if they make cornerback their 1st-round selection and address the defensive line later in the draft.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2010 NFL Draft, Titans Comments Off

All-Overrated Draft Prospects Team

QB – Tim Tebow, Florida
Someone’s going to take him in the 1st or 2nd round, and they’re going to have to wait at least 2 years before he’s ready to start at quarterback (if he’s ever ready).

RB – C.J. Spiller, Clemson
He’s not the next Chris Johnson. The next Leon Washington is more likely. He’s simply not an every-down running back.

RB – Jahvid Best, California
Same criticism of Spiller applies here. He’s a change-of-pace back, a better version of Ahmad Bradshaw.

WR – Damian Williams, USC
He’s too skinny to be an elite receiver. He’ll get pushed around by more physical defensive backs, and he lacks the speed to break away.

WR – Mike Williams, Syracuse
I wouldn’t touch him with a 10-foot pole. Off-field issues make him undraftable in my book. Not even worth a 7th round pick.

TE – Anthony McCoy, USC
He’s a serviceable tight end due to his blocking ability, but he won’t contribute as a receiver. The next Christian Fauria.

OT – Bruce Campbell, Maryland
How anyone can watch him on film and give him a grade higher than the 3rd round baffles me. Athleticism only takes you so far.

OT – Trent Williams, Oklahoma
Definitely has upside, but his lack of production in his only year at left tackle is very concerning.

OG – Vladimir Ducasse, Massachusetts
Size and athleticism are making scouts drool, but he is very raw. He could be the next Larry Allen, he could be the next Qasim Mitchell.

OG – Sergio Render, Virginia Tech
I’m reaching here because no one else jumps out. Render impressed early in his career, but never showed improvement.

C – Eric Olsen, Notre Dame
Was never overly impressive at Notre Dame, and he struggled in one-on-one drills at the Senior Bowl.

DE – Jason Pierre-Paul, South Florida
Claims about his elite athleticism are overstated. Derrick Morgan is of similar size and build and performed equally, if not better, in every drill at the combine.

DE – George Selvie, South Florida
After a standout sophomore year, Selvie was non-factor for two full seasons. Yet he still generates interest from those that remember his 2007 campaign.

DT – Terrence Cody, Alabama
Weight is still a serious concern. He’ll never be able to stay on the field consistently.

DT – Arthur Jones, Syracuse
High expectations for his senior year never panned out. Injury concerns and lack of production limit his upsite.

OLB – Ricky Sapp, Clemson
Only one year of experience at linebacker after transitioning from end. Lack of elite production and ACL tear in 2008 raise red flags.

OLB – Navorro Bowman, Penn State
Doesn’t have the elite on-field production to make up for his serious character concerns.

ILB – Brandon Spikes, Florida
Spikes’ recent 40 times raise serious red flags. He may simply lack the speed to play in the NFL.

CB – Joe Haden, Florida
He’s a legitimate 1st-round prospect, but doesn’t deserve a top-10 grade. The gap between him and the next-best corners has raised his stock above where it realistically should be.

CB – Patrick Robinson, Florida State
Robinson has elite speed, but he’s one of the least physical corners I’ve seen in recent years. Off-field concerns further hurt his stock.

S – Taylor Mays, USC
Mays is so universally viewed as overrated that I considered leaving him off the list. But his production just hasn’t matched his physical ability.

S – T.J. Ward, Oregon
The potential is there, but he can’t stay healthy. Multiple ankle and knee injuries raise serious doubts about his ability to stay on the field.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2010 NFL Draft Comments Off

5 popular mock draft predictions unlikely to happen

Every year draftniks fall in love with certain predictions which, on paper, make sense. But creating a mock draft isn’t always about matching up the team’s needs with the best available player at that position. You have to understand each team’s draft tendencies and try to think like their GM (or whoever it may be that’s calling the shots).

With that in mind, I’ve set out to discredit a few common mock draft predictions which likely won’t hold true on April 22.

5. Jermaine Gresham to the Bengals
The Bengals have, hands down, the worst pass-catching tight ends in the league. So in theory, adding Gresham would make a lot of sense. However, Marvin Lewis and Bob Bratkowski just don’t seem to care. They have never incorporated the tight end into the offense and I don’t see any reason why they’ll change now. Selecting Gresham would require the Bengals to abandon an offensive philosophy which has worked fairly well in recent years.

4. Russell Okung to the Lions
Adding a young offensive tackle in the 2nd or 3rd round would be a wise decision for the Lions, but its unlikely to happen with the 2nd pick. Jim Schwartz has praised Jeff Backus, and even endorsed him as a Pro Bowl candidate this past season. With all the needs the Lions have on both sides of the ball, why would Martin Mayhew and Schwartz upgrade a position that they already view as a strength?

3. Joe Haden to the Browns
Haden is the top available player at a position at which the Browns are devoid of talent. However, a rebuilding process does not start with a cornerback. The trades of Corey Williams and Kamerion Wimbley have opened up gaping holes in the Browns front seven, which is always a higher priority on draft day than the secondary. Eric Berry, due to his elite draft grade, may still be an option, but not Haden.

2. Dez Bryant to the Dolphins
Signing Karlos Dansby left the Dolphins with just one glaring area of need: receiver. Or more specifically, a big receiver. Dez Bryant is exactly what the Dophins want, but there is no way that Bill Parcells ok’s the selection of a receiver in the 1st round. He hasn’t selected one since Terry Glenn in 1996, and that selection was actually made by Robert Kraft and was a key reason why Parcells bolted after the season. Throw in Bryant’s off-field concerns and he has little chance of wearing a Dolphins uniform in 2010.

1. Bruce Campbell to the Raiders
Al Davis has made plenty of bad decisions, but this would top them all. The thought process behind this selection is that the Raiders need a left tackle and Campbell put on a performance at the Combine that is sure to catch the attention of Davis. That said, there are enough other players with legitimate 1st-round grades that Davis can probably be talked into. Jason Pierre-Paul, Taylor Mays, Trent Williams and Anthony Davis are all much closer to receiving top-10 grades and would still fit the Al Davis profile.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2010 NFL Draft, Bengals, Browns, Dolphins, Lions, Raiders 1 Comment

Making sense of the Broncos draft plans

Once we hit mid-March most team’s draft plans start to clear up. Certain needs are addressed through free agency which limits the number of options for each team in the draft. However, occasionally a team will bring in so many new free agents that it only clutters up the roster and makes their draft plans difficult to determine.

This year that team is the Broncos.

By no means am I insulting their offseason moves. Quite the opposite, actually. They’ve overhauled their defensive line with Jarvis Green, Justin Bannan and Jamal Williams, all of whom could start for them in 2010.

Cowboys Jenkins Breaks Up Pass for Broncos Marshall in DenverOn the offensive side, the Brandon Marshall situation is still looming over their heads, but its becoming increasingly unlikely that he’ll sign elsewhere. The rumors of him signing with the Seahawks have been overstated. Seattle would have to surrender the 6th overall pick, which simply isn’t going to happen. The only alternative may be for Marshall to re-sign with Denver and then be traded to Seattle for the 14th selection.

The Bengals have also been rumored to have interest, but appear to have turned their attention to Terrell Owens and Antonio Bryant, both of whom come at a much cheaper price tag.

So which direction do the Broncos go in the draft?

I was all set to predict Dan Williams to the Broncos in my latest mock draft… and then they signed Justin Bannan… and then Jarvis Green… and then Jamal Williams. Clearly defensive line has been crossed off the list of needs.

Dez Bryant has been a common name linked to the Broncos in mock drafts, but it hinges on the trade of Marshall. Until he’s gone, I don’t think we can feel confident that the Broncos are leaning that direction. Even if Marshall is gone, it may not be a sure thing. Bryant’s stock is falling for his off-field concerns, and the Broncos may be hesitant to bring aboard another diva.

The secondary is another area that could be addressed. Last season the Broncos were so desperate for cornerbacks that they brought aboard the seemingly ageless Ty Law. If Joe Haden is on the board he would certainly be an option.

However, in my latest mock draft Haden comes off the board at No. 10 to the Jaguars, leaving the Broncos with a difficult decision. Since I’ve decided to hold off on the Dez Bryant prediction until Marshall is traded, I was left without an option that jumped out as an obvious choice.

I elected to go with Sergio Kindle who has the size and athleticism to make the transition from defensive end to linebacker in the Broncos 3-4 system. It isn’t a slam dunk by any means, but it fills a need at a decent value. Marrio Haggan started opposite Elvis Dumervil in 2009 and could certainly be upgraded. Kindle would represent a significant upgrade over Haggan as a pass rusher and should at least be able to match his production against the run.

The downside to selecting Kindle is that they already have a good amount of money tied up in linebackers in Dumervil, D.J. Williams and 2009 1st-round pick Robert Ayers.

As we get closer to the draft its possible that the Broncos draft plans clear up, but as of now they’re clear as mud. If things remain as they are now, the Broncos could be a prime candidate to make one of the more surprising selection of draft.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2010 NFL Draft, Broncos Comments Off

Does the signing of Kampman change the Jaguars draft plans?

On Sunday the Jaguars signed former Packers DE/LB Aaron Kampman to address their need for a pass rusher. But is it enough?

Philadelphia Eagles v Green Bay PackersThe Jaguars managed just 14 sacks in 2010, easily the lowest total in the league. 2008 1st and 2nd round picks Derrick Harvey and Quentin Groves struggled mightily in pass-rush situations and the Jaguars are clearly entertaining the idea of moving on.

It had been widely assumed that the Jaguars would consider Derrick Morgan with the 10th overall selection but the signing of Kampman puts that into doubt. Jack Del Rio has expressed hope that Derrick Harvey can still develop into a quality starter, which may mean the defensive line is set for 2010.

On paper, the Kampman signing looks like it may be enough. While Harvey has been considered a bust by some, he’s actually been well above average against the run. Adding a pass rusher like Kampman on the other side could actually give the Jaguars a very formidable pair of ends.

The other issue at play is how much money the Jaguars are willing to commit to their defensive line. If they drafted Morgan and kept Harvey they’d have two 1st-round picks and Kampman – that’s a lot of money tied up in one position.

Ultimately I don’t think the Jaguars can afford to draft Morgan. At this point another defensive end would qualify as a luxury pick and the Jaguars have too many holes to go that route. Players such as Dez Bryant and Joe Haden may be available and would fill positions of need.

As much as a like Morgan, taking him 10th overall would be an irresponsible move by GM Gene Smith.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2010 NFL Draft, Free Agency, Jaguars 4 Comments

Corey Chavous is an embarrassment to all draftniks

If you watched andy of the Senior Bowl coverage on the NFL Network you may be familiar with Corey Chavous’ site DraftNasty.com. I checked out the site when I first learned of it and quickly dismissed it as a feeble attempt of a former NFL player to become a draftnik. The site is poorly put together and ridiculous rankings such as Joe Haden as the 4th-ranked cornerback and Jermaine Gresham as the 7th-rated tight end cause him to lose all credibility.

But just in case you actually thought he had some shred of credibility based on the fact that he played in the NFL, I present to you his mock draft.

A few of the highlights:
1. Neither Jimmy Clausen, nor Sam Bradford are in the 1st round

2. Ryan Mathews goes 7th overall to the Browns

3. Amari Spievey is the 2nd cornerback selected, behind Patrick Robinson

I hate to drive traffic to his site by even providing the links. But mock drafts like these, especially by those such as Corey Chavous who have the ability to reach a significant audience, infuriate me. Its insulting to the fans and it hurts the credibility of everyone in the business. Those who see these clearly impossible mock drafts quickly become cynical towards all draftniks. I hear it all the time: how can you predict the draft months in advance? True, its difficult, but not nearly as hard some make it appear.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2010 NFL Draft 6 Comments

Browns Interested in Joe Haden

brownsBrowns 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.

Vanderbilt v FloridaRegardless 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.

top10cornerbacks

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.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2010 NFL Draft, Browns Comments Off