MD Native Joe Haden Can Do It All

CB Haden was recruited as a QB, played WR, and contributes on special teams.

Posted by Mike Duffy on Sunday, February 28th, 2010 at 2:45 pm | Categories: 2010 NFL Combine, Mike Duffy

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Florida cornerback Joe Haden will certainly be off the board by the time the Ravens draft at No. 25, but he does possess all the traits Baltimore looks for in a player.

He also possesses the same address.

A homegrown talent, Haden was a highly-recruited quarterback coming out of Friendly High School in Fort Washington, Md. A lifelong Gator fan, his desire to get on the field trumped his want to have the ball, so he switched from quarterback to wideout to corner.

Now, he’s all but guaranteed a top 10 selection.

“When I first got there, I had a dream to play quarterback, but they had a guy there named Tebow, so that went out the window,” Haden joked when speaking to the media Sunday at the NFL Scouting Combine. “I just wanted to play. I came in the spring, so I had a lot of time to adjust when I moved to corner. It was something I never did before.”

Haden never had to.

He set Maryland state records with 7,371 career passing yards and tied the career mark for touchdown passes with 80. Haden threw for 2,783 yards and 38 touchdowns as a senior, adding 899 rushing yards and 13 scores.

“I definitely could have been a college quarterback,” said Haden, noting that he was recruited by Ohio State, Virginia, Georgia and North Carolina to play under center, among others. “I wasn’t too bad of a quarterback in high school. Sometimes I miss the ball, but I try to get it on defense.

“I like defense now. It grew on me.”

Haden, who totaled 68 tackles,10 pass deflections and four interceptions last year, honed his skills in a gym his father, Joe, ran in Forestville, Md. According to the younger Haden, Joe, Sr., was a track athlete at Morgan State and former bodybuilder.

“I’ve been doing the shuttles, broad jump, verticals since I was in the seventh grade,” said the former Gator. “I’d been lifting for a long time, so when I got to Florida, I wasn’t weak at all.”

With 40 career starts, Haden is seasoned. With a compact 5-foot-11, 185-pound build, he might not have elite size, but his physicality makes up for that.

What’s more, he has the heart and team-first mentality clubs love. Even during an All-American junior season, Haden continued to play special teams for Florida.

Unless the Ravens are willing to give up picks to jump up in the draft, Haden will not return home for his professional career because it’s unlikely he’ll be on the board late in the first round. But the team that does draft the Maryland native is certainly getting a productive player.

“Wherever someone needs a corner, I can fill in that spot for them,” Haden said. “Not just being a cornerback, I can do a lot of other things. I can do punts or any kind of special teams. I was a gunner, I was a hold-up guy.”

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