Draft Spotlight: Joe Haden
The next player up on Draft Spotlight is Florida CB Joe Haden, who is perhaps the No. 1 corner in the draft. Numerous mocks have Haden going to the 49ers at 13/17.
The 49ers head into the season with Shawntae Spencer, Tarell Brown, and Nate Clements (who is coming off a shoulder injury and a benching) as their corners. Joe Haden is a wise choice if the 49ers go that route and not sure anyone would be upset if they did infact pull the trigger.
40 Time: 4.52
Haden has had an outstanding career for the Gators as their most active defender in their secondary during that time. Haden is an excellent combination of size, strength and athleticism. He has great foot quickness, balance and agility to maintain proper body positioning in coverage. Haden has excellent hips to open turn and run with receivers as well as burst to stay in his opponent’s hip pocket. Haden is a solid run support defender on the perimeter but can be inconsistent being physical. He understands route progressions but doesn’t always react quickly as plays unfold. Haden can be too aggressive with the ball in the air at times but shows very good ball skills which make him a great playmaker. Haden is one of the top cornerbacks in the 2010 draft and should go early on day one.
Read & React: Typically plays in press or off-man coverage, reading the receiver to gain an advantage on the route. Good straight-line for the deep route. Reacts quickly in zone coverage and when he’s facing the quarterback in man coverage. Little wasted motion in closing once he sees the ball in the air.
Man Coverage: Very strong in man coverage. Quick, active hands to provide an initial pop to the receiver in press coverage. Quick feet and loose hips for the transition to run downfield. Good balance and body control to mirror the receiver. Can plant his foot in the ground and explode out of cuts. Good use of hands downfield to prevent separation. Shows a legitimate late burst to close after the ball has been released. Good timing and hand-eye coordination to slap the ball away as it arrives.
Zone Coverage: Smooth, low backpedal out of his stance. Maintains cushion with his backpedal, keeping his eyes alert to receivers in his zone. Changes direction smoothly with no wasted motion. Plays faster than he has been timed, a credit to his recognition and efficient change-of-direction ability.
Closing/Recovery: Among his best traits. Plants and drives back to the ball very well. Accelerates late and has the body control to contort in space and slap the ball away without drawing a flag. Good straight-line speed to run with any receiver and has a late burst to close if beaten initially. Locates the ball in the air. Good vertical and times his leaps to compete for the jump ball.
Run Support: Reads run and is quick to close toward the line of scrimmage. Evades blocks due to his lateral agility and anticipation and is willing to take on bigger ballcarriers. Understands his role on the edge and approaches it with a workmanlike mentality.
Tackling: Takes good tackle angles, going low against bigger ballcarriers. Isn’t an explosive hitter. Grab-and-drag tackler more often than scouts would like, rather than wrapping up securely, but rarely has his tackles broken. Can be dragged a bit by bigger ballcarriers, but gets his man to the ground.
Intangibles:Signed with Florida as a standout prep quarterback and all-around athlete. Originally was expected to play slot receiver, but elected to compete for the starting cornerback position rather than back up Percy Harvin. Team-first player who is a standout special teams player despite his All-American status. Played in 2009 on the punt return, kickoff and punt teams.
Haden has the supreme blend of size, strength, athleticism and speed necessary to be a shut-down corner on the next level. He’s a highly-competitive player who was consistently asked to take on No. 1 SEC receivers in press-man coverage. Is a playmaker with impressive ball skills. Was a consistently productive player in college on a great team defense. Durable throughout career.
His route progression reads could improve some along with his reaction times. Run support isn’t a true weakness but Haden could do a better job of wrapping up on the perimeter. Like most ball-hawks, will occasionally gamble and lose when the ball’s in the air.