Joe Haden, CB, Florida
Weight: 193 pounds
40 time: 4.43
An outstanding cover cornerback who excels at shadowing the receiver down the field, Joe Haden enters the NFL as a complete defensive back, capable of making plays in coverage as well as being an active defender against the run.
A three-year starter with 40 career starts at Florida, Haden recorded 218 tackles, nine tackles for loss, 34 pass breakups, and eight interceptions during his career with the Gators; Haden was a consistent performer over the course of his career with close-to-identical stats between his sophomore and junior seasons.
A terrific press/man corner, Joe Haden is a very physical cornerback who doesn’t shy away from contact and is aggressive in mirroring the wide receiver down the field. He does a great job of getting his hands up to jam the receiver at the line of scrimmage and has shown the fluid hips and tremendous natural athleticism needed to consistently turn and run with the receiver.
Joe has ideal size for a cornerback with long enough arms to effectively bump the receiver at the line and control the receiver at the point of attack in the five-yard contact zone. He has very good change of direction skills in the open field while also possessing quick feet and great closing speed; he has the quickness, acceleration, and recovery speed needed to catch up to the receiver if he gets beat. A very instinctive player, Haden has great ball skills and does a terrific job of making a play on the ball while it’s in the air; he’s capable of high pointing the ball while going up to either snatch it out of the air or deflect it away from the receiver. Joe is also a consistent defender against the run and has shown the ability and great closing speed to make a big hit on the ball carrier and down the field on a receiver when the opportunity presents itself.
He’s a reliable wrap-up tackler out on the edge who is also aggressive in attacking the line of scrimmage to make a play on the ball carrier before he gets downfield. What I love about Joe is that he’s an extremely confident player who loves the challenge of being placed out on island one-on-one with a receiver. He has a very competitive attitude who embraces the challenge of being asked to shutdown the opposing receiver.
I’d like to see Joe add some bulk and strength at the next level as he has a rather thin frame and he will need the added strength to be able to consistently match up with the bigger receivers he’ll face at the next level. Joe’s straight-line speed was questioned at the Combine when he ran a 4.52 40-yard dash, but he answered all of those questions at his pro day when he improved his time to 4.43; to put it simply, he has more than enough speed to play in the NFL and that is something that I’m not at all worried about with him. With how aggressive he is, there are times when he will beaten from taking a chance on a play, however, for the amount of plays that he ends up making for his team, I’m more than fine with him taking an occasional chance or two. To nitpick, Haden could still stand to refine his technique and his backpedal to become the best player that he’s capable of being. I project that Haden will be drafted in the first round, specifically among the Top 15 picks with a strong chance of going in the Top 10.
A consistent, experienced, and durable player, Joe Haden has all of the tools needed to develop into a shutdown cornerback for his team at the next level. He has extensive experience playing press corner in man coverage while he’s also capable of playing in zone. I feel that Haden’s best fit will be with a team that likes to play press coverage where they rely on their cornerbacks to make plays and shadow the opposing receiver on an island out on the edge. With Joe still a bit inexperienced as a cornerback, having only started playing the position in 2007, his best football as a defensive back could still be in his future. Haden has the talent and athleticism as well as the polished tools needed to be a consistent Pro Bowl-caliber cornerback for the team that drafts him.
Notes: Joe was named first-team All-American in 2009 as well as being named first-team All-SEC; he was named second-team All-SEC in 2008. A prolific quarterback as a prep, Haden was a top recruit out of high school, having been rates as the No. 1 player in the state of Maryland as well as the No. 3 athlete and No. 59 overall player in the country by Rivals.com. Over the course of his high school career, Haden threw for 7,371 yards (Maryland state public school record) and 80 touchdowns (tied for the best in state history). Joe originally was set to play wide receiver at Florida but he opted to move to cornerback rather than be a backup to Percy Harvin for the Gators. Joe’s dad, Joe Sr. is a former professional body builder, football player, and track star who is now a personal trainer. One of his brothers, Josh, was a running back at Boston College before he recently decided to transfer; his other brother, Jordan, will be a safety for Florida in 2010. As a prep, he was also the point guard on his high school’s two-time state championship basketball team.
Haden shows flashes of brilliance and can hit hard in both the pass game and in run support, but will need to get stronger and show that he can anticipate routes better. Still, he’s shown that he can sack the QB and make INTs as well, showing that he could be an impact fantasy DB.
With DB being such a deep position and Haden coming into the NFL Draft with more than one question mark surrounding his potential, you’d be wise to let him drop in your dynasty draft. Those that are in leagues that split apart CBs from the DB position might bump Haden up a bit, as he has an Antoine Winfield-esque skill set and potential.