In Joe Haden, the Browns have one of the best young cornerbacks in the National Football League, a player well on his way to becoming one of the truly elite options at his position.
Now the Browns need to find him a batterymate.
Dimitri Patterson, the second starter at cornerback in 2012, is no longer with the team.
Injuries and a four-game suspension for Haden last year resulted in an increased role for 24-year-old Buster Skrine. Skrine had over 80 tackles in 2012, but that was because the player he was covering always made the catch. Per Pro Football Focus, only six cornerbacks in the NFL allowed a higher completion rate than Skrine's 73.1 percent.
That leaves rookie Leon McFadden, the Browns third-round draft choice in 2013.
At 5'10", many consider McFadden a bit on the small side to play one of the outside slots, believing him better suited for the nickelback spot.
However, Dallas Cowboys tight end Gavin Escobar, who played with McFadden at San Diego State, thinks that McFadden would do just fine as a starter according to Matt Florjancic of the Browns' website.
I was going against him, and I wouldn’t say he’d lock me down, but he’s strong. He’s strong for his size, and he can jump too. I think he’ll be fine going up against those strong receivers. I didn’t go up against him a lot, being a tight end, but when I did go up against him, I always told the quarterback I was open. In reality, it was good competition.
The Browns also signed free agent Chris Owens, but he's no bigger than McFadden, so the starting job opposite Haden may well be McFadden's to lose.