Although it’s a rather large burden to place on one player, I think that the Cleveland Browns have no chance at competing if Joe Haden does not materialize into an All-Pro cornerback. When the club selected him with the seventh overall pick in the 2010 NFL draft, the criticism was abundant, but with two years left on his rookie contract, the Browns may have struck gold with Haden.
With Anquan Boldin and Mike Wallace both out of the AFC North, the Browns’ cornerback had a big sigh of relief this offseason. With that being said, the ex-Florida Gator has to focus on staying healthy for an entire season for the first time in since his rookie year. We saw how much praise Richard Sherman got with the Seattle Seahawks in 2012 and I’m curious to see if Haden make his mark felt in a similar fashion.
Haden has all of the tools as his 5-foot-11 frame is smaller than Sherman’s, but keep in mind Haden ran a 4.57 40-yard dash time which is just .03 seconds slower than the Seahawks defensive back ran in 2011.
Either way, the Browns need Haden to come out strong in 2013 if they have any hopes of winning their division for the first time since 1989. If Haden can recapture some of the magic from his rookie season where he had six interceptions then the Browns will be in wonderful shape on the defensive end. The team has done a great job bringing in talent on that side of the ball, but if the secondary does not force turnovers it will be an uphill battle all year long.
As his fourth season in the NFL approaches, keep an eye on Haden as he tries to make his first Pro Bowl and make the Browns a winner.