Over the past few days the Cleveland Browns have been running their drafted, undrafted, and invited rookies through drills in rookie minicamp at their headquarters in Berea, OH.
After watching video footage, I must say one of the most impressive rookies is first-round pick Joe Haden.
Haden's addition to a revamped defensive secondary is a sign that not only the front office and coaches knew it was one of the weakest overall areas on the roster, but even us, the fans, knew this as well from the porous coverage during the past several years.
Months before the NFL Draft, president Mike Holmgren told the media that head coach Eric Mangini, general manager Tom Heckert, and he were all in agreement that they really liked starting cornerback Eric Wright, starting safety Abram Elam, and backup defensive back Mike Adams as the strongest members of the unit.
Now fast-forward to post-NFL Draft, and the Browns have added veteran corner Sheldon Brown, and rookies Joe Haden, T.J. Ward, and Larry Asante to their secondary. The secondary went from very weak to having great depth in a short amount of time.
The biggest thing to watch is how all the old faces play with the new faces and can they become a coherent unit on the field.
It has been said many times before that competition brings out the best in people. Well, this group may prove that to be a true statement in 2010.
Ever since he was drafted in 2007, starting corner Eric Wright was given his role as a rookie and never had any form of competition to push him to become a better player. Nor has he ever had a solid veteran presence at the position to mentor him.
Without these elements, Wright has still become one of the better young corners in the NFL, but with all the added faces his time as a starter may not last much longer unless he can really push himself to get even better.
Plus, the fact that Wright has been a good corner in the NFL could also be because he has been unchallenged by opposing quarterbacks because they always seem to throw at whoever is playing on the other side of the defense. But this is just a hypothesis of my own and holds no truth without coaches concurring with it.
After witnessesing how fluid and light on his feet Haden has been in rookie minicamp, I believe he can really push for Wright's starter spot opposite Brown, who will most likely be the No. 1 corner on the roster because of his experience.
This doesn't mean it will actually happen, but Wright has been virtually untested in his time in Cleveland, so facing the pressure of competition could make or break him.
Whichever way it goes, Wright will either become an even better corner or he will be a solid third option and a nickelback.
Defensive coordinator Rob Ryan uses three-cornerback sets for almost half of his formations, so he must be thrilled to have three possible starters on his defense now.
One of the keys to a good football team is roster depth, and if there is one position that has gotten better only during the last few month, it is the secondary, which now has a bevy of possible starters.
Normally, I would say having too many possible starters in one area of the team is bad, but this is the defensive secondary, not the quarterback position.