Since we all have our own opinions on the first round of the NFL Draft, we felt it would be best to give you are own individual thoughts in one post. It was definitely an exciting night and it is leaving a lot of suspense for tonight’s four picks. Do enjoy…
Scott - Despite all of my attempts to the contrary, I allowed myself to get my hopes up for Eric Berry falling to the seventh pick. Of course, of all of the picks that Mel Kiper mocked up for months, one of the three had to be Berry going to Kansas city at fifth overall. With that said, I was very excited about the potential to add Joe Haden prior to the combine, so I do not fault the Browns one bit for addressing the need of a cornerback.
The pick is safe – something that the Browns needed to do given their penchant for first-round failures over the last decade. The kid is electric – he’s a playmaker and has an amazing reel of film through his tenure with the Gators. He fills a huge need and will be starting come September 12th in Tampa Bay. Given that this is the first Florida Gator to come to the Browns via the first round since Gerard Warren in 2001, I’m confident that that he will also be the best player to make the the trip from Gainsville to Cleveland.
Last season, the Browns wanted to address the offensive line and they drafted the top center in the class. Last night, they managed to get the player that was the top cornerback on nearly every big board. Do I still want a free safety to help up top? Sure, but I’m also a big fan of knowing that this team can now go into a third-and-long without Brandon McDonald and Hank Poteat being on the field. Any time you can get rid of this risk, I think you come out a winner. For what it’s worth, my free safety pick for tonight is USF’s Nate Allen. The Browns will have to trade into the middle of the second-round to get him, but I know the team is a big fan and he would be starting from day one. Let’s do this….
Andrew- The Browns had the 7th pick in a 6 player draft. Of course they did. So when picks 1-6 pretty much played out as expected, the Browns were stuck in a bit of a tough spot. Should they trade down a few spots and take Earl Thomas? Do they just go ahead and reach a bit to take Thomas at 7? It’s kind of tough to take the #2 guy at his position with the 7th overall pick. So the Browns settled with the best CB on the board in Joe Haden. I’m not concerned one bit with his 40 time. If you watch this guy compete against elite WRs, he can more than hold his own.
It’s tough when you have your heart set on a guy like Eric Berry. If you find yourself in a situation where you’re not comfortable with your pick at #7, then I wish you would just go ahead and trade up a few spots to get the guy you want. But perhaps Washington wasn’t interested in moving down, I don’t know. All I know is that when we first started thinking about the draft, this kid was someone that many of us wanted the Browns to pick and he was a guy that was projected to go to the Browns. It seems ridiculous to me that one slow time hurt his draft stock so much, and I find it interesting that things have come full circle for Haden and he has ended up in Cleveland after all.
I was initially a little lukewarm on this pick just because with the addition of Sheldon Brown I didn’t feel CB was nearly as dire as safety is on the team. So I still kind of wish the Browns would have traded down to get Earl Thomas. That’s not a knock on Haden, though. Haden has a great mentality and has the skills to shore up the CB position on this team for years to come. It’s a perfectly acceptable pick to me. It’s just a let down in the scope what potential the Browns had in picking safeties….
Rick- I’ve said this before, but it is worth repeating. Evaluating talent is perhaps the hardest job in all of sports. If it was as easy as fans seem to think sometimes then everyone would draft wisely every year. There would be no Tom Brady stories. There would be no busts. General Managers wouldn’t lose their jobs. The Browns needed to address the secondary in this draft. Yes, I too would have liked to get Berry but instead we took a cornerback that our leadership thought was the best in the draft. The safety position will get addressed at some point in the next couple picks I imagine, which along with Haden, and Sheldon Brown will improve our secondary.
The thing I’m hearing about Haden that I like is his ability to come up and support the run. I wouldn’t have guessed him to be ‘the physical corner’ from seeing him last night. He seemed to be swimming in that suit and after the crying incident kind of looked like a wet rag. But if he is as good at coming up to support the run defense that will be a good thing for this team. Perhaps he can bring a toughness to the position that just doesn’t exist there right now. Man our corners suck at tackling. Welcome to Cleveland Haden. Sign your contract. Work hard. We’ll love you for it.
DP- It’s a strange task to try to evaluate a draft pick without being able to really look at it in a vacuum. I know there are lots of folks who might think Haden is a bad pick at 7, but it’s nearly impossible to look at the pick without the “yeah, but” of the fact that Berry was gone. And, it’s important to remember that there were a lot of us that were in the “Berry or Haden” camp up until the point that he ran a slow 40-yard dash time.
I look at it this way: the Browns addressed a position of immense need, and if the only knock on Haden is that he doesn’t run fast in shorts and is a bit undersized, to that I would say I’m OK with having a guy who was a standout in the toughest conference in college football. I’d much rather have that than a “workout warrior” that Todd McShay likes, but that’s just me. I will also echo Rick’s sentiment that we needed some additional physicality at the position, so hopefully Haden can bring that.
Finally, I’ll leave you with a quote from my good friend Lars who joined our Columbus contingent for the draft last night: “The problem I have with the talking heads criticizing the Browns pick is that they don’t offer up who the Browns should have taken instead. It was Berry or bust, so they busted, couldn’t trade out of it, and picked one of the top couple of guys… so seriously, I don’t get the heat that they’re taking. Especially since all the good CBs are pretty much gone now.” I think this pretty much sums it up perfectly from my perspective as well: the Browns made what I think is a safe pick that addresses a need, and though they got shut out of the guy(s) they wanted, they didn’t flip out and pull a Jacksonville. That works for me.
TD: I said this last night and I saw Eric Mangini say the same thing this morning – “you can never have too many corners.” He is correct. As much as I wanted Eric Berry (badly), if he was gone, the best move was to build the corner position with the best corner in the draft, Joe Haden. Remember, every single mock draft you saw before the dreaded Combine had haden to the Browns at #7. Then he went out and ran a slower than expected 40 time, and all of a sudden, years of stellar play at Florida were forgotten.
All that matters to me is what I see on the field when the lights shine brightest. And what I saw was Haden being a true shut down corner at the highest level of the college game – the SEC. While the trade for Sheldon Brown improved the depth at the position, the reality is the Browns needed another young corner who could play right away. Eric Wright is solid, but he is just one man. Brandon McDonald? Yikes. Brown is not getting any younger and while he is a true professional, my belief is that if he were still at the top of his game, he’d still be a Philadelphia Eagle. The Haden pick makes all the sense in the world.
Craig: No sense in repeating a lot of what has already been said, but I will just throw out some names. Hank Poteat, and Terry Cousin. The Browns made a good decision even if it doesn’t work out in the end and Haden is a bust. They picked the number one cornerback available and it was a position of need. On a team that needed defensive secondary help, you can’t ask for anything more.