The Strange Tale of "Slow" Joe Haden
Media personality* Mike Lombardi had an interesting notebook item in his latest column on NFL.com:
“According to coaches around the league, Browns first-round pick Joe Haden has not been very impressive in camps and might not have enough speed to play corner. Maybe all that talk about some in the organization wanted to take Kyle Wilson over Haden was true.”
So Lombardi has talked to other coaches in the league, who somehow have witnessed or seen film from Browns practices, which are private, and have determined that Haden is too slow to play cornerback in the league. And they were able to do this without seeing him perform in pads at full speed.
This shouldn’t be surprising coming from media personality* Mike Lombardi, as he was critical of Haden prior to the draft, writing that:
“Florida corner Joe Haden has had some top-10 visits, but I keep hearing he’s not a top-10 pick. Hard to pick a speed-deficit corner in the top 10 and pay all that money. Remember, the rookie pay scale overpays the players from the first to the 12th pick in the first round; the rest of the salary structure is effective.”
Apparently the talk the Lombardi is hearing doesn’t take into account what Haden did at Florida, where he played well enough to be a starter on a national championship team that played in the toughest conference in the nation.
Or that Haden improved his 40-yard dash time from the 4.6 he ran at the NFL Combine to the high 4.3 to low 4.4 range he ran at his Pro Day at Florida.
We don’t know, Haden looks like he knows what he’s doing here.
None of that matters because media personality* Mike Lombardi is hearing things. Very bad things.
This is where he loses us. As a media personality, rather than a reporter, Lombardi is in the business of stating his opinion, which is fine. We all watch these guys play football in college and think that this player or that player would be a good fit for a particular team.
If he thinks Kyle Wilson is/will be a better player than Haden, that’s OK. But once the pick is made, why do you have to continually try to discredit someone just for the glorification of your own ego? Why not just say, “if I had been making the pick, I would have picked this player and here’s why”?
But to continually manufacture items with no sourcing to stand behind it, that just comes off as childish.
For all his faults, we think Eric Mangini knows something about defense. We’re sure Rob Ryan knows defense. And Mike Holmgren and Tom Heckert know the type of players a team needs to succeed in the NFL.
If they say Haden’s the man, that’s good enough for us.
*We refuse to refer to Lombardi and his ilk as journalists. As someone with a journalism degree who worked in the newspaper business for more than a decade, we still believe in proper sourcing, having people go on the record and standing behind their comments. WI don’t put much faith in stories that are attributed to “league officials,” “people close to the situation” or any of that nonsense. That’s not reporting, it’s just throwing crap against the wall and hoping something sticks.