Would I pick Joe Haden inside the top 15? No
Is Joe Haden the best corner in the draft? Yes
Don't ask me why, but I'm always skeptical of defensive players coming out of UF. Like it or not, NCAA success for Florida players, hasn't translated to success in the NFL.
The list of former Gators currently playing on defense in the NFL is a little surprising, and not in a good way.
Reynaldo Hill, DB, Tennessee Titans
Mike Peterson, MLB, Atlanta Falcons
Reggie Nelson, FS, Jacksonville Jaguars
Derrick Harvey, DE, Jacksonville Jaguars
Andra Davis, OLB, Cleveland Browns
Channing Crowder, ILB, Miami Dolphins
Of those players, I would only consider Channing Crowder to be of Pro-Bowl caliber, with the rest battling to retain/become full-time starters.
I won't pass judgement on the Haden based on UF's alumni, but it definitely doesn't fill me with confidence. Urban Meyer's system has also been well proven in it's inability to produce next-level talent.
As Darrelle Revis' popularity exploded this past season, talk about "the next Darrelle Revis" shortly followed, and the natural progression was to Joe Haden.
These talks continued up until the NFL Combine, where Haden was overshadowed in all of the measurables, most notably in the 40-yard dash. Haden ran times of 4.60 and 4.57, much too slow to be considered a first round pick at DB.
Last week, at UF's pro day, Haden was able to improve upon those times, running somewhere in the 4.4's, however good, these may not be good enough for him to shake his combine numbers.
The jump from the NCAA to the NFL is a considerable one, which is why teams can only put a moderate amount of stock in a players NCAA success.
Corner is a position where this becomes even more apparent. The press-coverages and shear physicality at the NFL level is unlike anything an NCAA corner sees on a week to week basis.
That being said, Haden has the man-to-man coverage abilities to compete from day 1, his speed in pads has never been questioned, and his insticts are as good as anyone. Despite all the potential for a let-down, Haden is widely regarded as the best corner in this class.
Projected Round: 1st
Projected Team: Denver Broncos.
Even though I wouldn't pick him in the top 15, doesn't mean other teams won't. The Broncos need someone to play alongside Champ Bailey, and this would be a great situation for Haden.