For the last few weeks, Joe Haden has shown up as the de facto pick for the Cleveland Browns with the seventh pick. Those days may be over.
With Haden running a 4.57 40-yard dash at the Combine, the Browns and their front office of Mike Holmgren and Tom Heckert now will have to completely re-evaluate what to do with their first round pick, assuming they were focusing on Haden.
Haden became the pick on the assumption that the Browns were going to focus on their defense in the first round, specifically at cornerback or safety. Most mock drafts have Eric Berry off the board at that point, leaving Haden as the highest rated player.
With the Combine results, however, everything has changed. The question now is what do the Browns do?
If there’s a worst-case scenario to all of this, it’s that Ndamukong Suh, Gerald McCoy, Eric Berry, and Taylor Mays are all off the board when the Browns come up for their pick.
If that happens, the Browns definitely should trade down because there no longer is any corner or safety worth taking in the top 10 with the contract that player would demand.
The silver lining to this is Mays.
His speed and strength on exhibit at the Combine moved him up, and if he’s available at the seventh pick, then the Browns would be wise to consider him.
The Browns passed on another USC defensive standout last year when they kept trading down until Clay Matthews was off the board. He had a great rookie year in Green Bay.
There also was the potential of another USC linebacker, Rey Maualuga, but it appears his problems with alcohol in college were not left there, and passing on him in the second round was one of the few correct decisions Eric Mangini made in the second round last year.
The Browns could consider trading up in the draft, but since they’re back-loaded with low round draft picks, it’s probably not a good course of action to take.
Draft positions will continue to shift up to draft day, but what the Browns do now becomes a bigger mystery as Mays proved himself elite and Haden stumbled.
That being said, if Haden scares off enough teams in the first round, he may still be around for the Browns to take in the second round, where he actually would end up being a steal.
Draft day is always full of surprises and anything is possible.
Whatever happens, Holmgren and Heckert have a track record of more hits than misses, so the averages favor the Browns for a change.
April 22 can’t come fast enough.