Widely regarded as this April's upcoming draft's #1 CB prospect, Florida's Joe Haden was touted as a surefire Top 10 selection. A well-rounded corner with good size (5'11" 190 lbs), Haden was expected to be long gone by the time the Tennessee Titans were on the clock midway through the first round.
Then, the NFL Combine happened. Haden's pedestrian 4.6, 40-yard dash time raised plenty of eyebrows and caused many to wonder if he cost himself a spot in the top-ten with his less-than-stellar performance.
Considering the Titans' possible need at the CB position, things could get pretty interesting if Haden is still available at pick #16 next month.
Despite his forty-yard dash times, Haden is a pretty talented prospect. He's a fluid athlete with good all-around corner skills and most importantly (to the Tennessee Titans) he's more than adequate supporting the run. Besides, forty times aren't the be-all end-all means of determining a player's future impact in the league (just ask Jerry Rice and Emmitt Smith).
In a recent article outlining the prospects that could have been of interest to the Titans at the NFL Combine, I didn't list Haden as a possibility at the CB position due to the widely-held belief at the time that Haden was not going to be available when the Titans' turn to draft arrived. Of course, in slightly less than five seconds, Haden has went from a certain top-ten pick to a player who could be ripe for the taking in the middle-to-latter portion of the first round.
If Haden is available at pick #16, the Titans will be faced with an interesting dilemma. As much as the team needs some talent opposite of Finny at the other CB position, the need is just as great at the DE position, especially considering the recent losses of veterans Kyle Vanden Bosch and Jevon Kearse. Despite the possible acquisition of free agent Jason Babin, the Titans could use the presence of a blue-chipper such as Jason Pierre-Paul or Derrick Morgan providing a pass-rush for years to come.
I'm all-but convinced that the Titans are leaning heavily in the direction of pursuing one of the aforementioned talented pass-rushers with their first round selection but if Haden is still around when pick #16 rolls around, in spite of his forty times, I'd have no qualms if commissioner Roger Goodell announces Joe's name as the Titans first-round pick on draft day.
Of course, this entire conversation could be mute if Haden puts forth a better showing in the forty at his upcoming pro day. However, just the mere thought of Haden being available when the Titans pick is an intriguing one to say the least.
What are your thoughts, guys? If Haden's available, should the Titans select him? Or is DE the direction the team should go in with their first-rounder despite the possibility of Haden being around at pick #16?