NFL Draft 2011: How Joe Haden Influences Cleveland Browns Draft

By Brian Murtaugh

Joe Haden was one of the most talented prospects coming out of the college game in 2010 but few fans expected him to have such a large impact on the Cleveland Browns in just his first season. The 2011 NFL draft has other cornerback talents that mimic the former Florida Gator, but Haden has a large influence on their future as well as the future of the Browns franchise.

With the addition of Haden last season, Eric Wright and Sheldon Brown (also a new acquisition in 2010) changed the Browns passing defense from one of the worst in the league to a hot and cold impenetrable force. Some weeks, the Browns secondary looked like they could play with some of the best in the league while other quarterbacks picked apart Cleveland at will. Patrick Peterson is one player who may be able to add consistency in the Browns defense as he enters the 2011 NFL Draft as not only the top prospect at corner, but widely regarded as the best talent overall.

Peterson may be available for Cleveland with the sixth overall selection at the end of April but the Browns also have more pressing needs that should be addressed. The need for another strong presence at corner could ultimately lead to the addition of Peterson or a late-round selection, but how important that need really is depends on how much Joe Haden, Wright and Brown can improve next season.

Haden collected 64 tackles and one sack last season while picking off six passes. Wright and Brown combined for a little over 100 tackles, three interceptions and did not record a sack all season long.

The Browns will also have a shot at some late-round cornerback’s such as Jimmy Smith from Colorado or Brandon Burton from Utah.

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