Say it ain't so, Joe

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In what is the biggest upset at the NFL Combine, in my mind, is cornerback Joe Haden’s performance in the 40-yard dash Tuesday. According to reports, he was timed at 4.57 seconds in his first attempt and 4.6 in his second.

I didn’t see that coming.

I thought Haden would blow the coaches and scouts away with his workouts in Indianapolis. He’s always been a workout warrior and Florida and I figured he’d go up there and run a 4.4 or better. I don’t know why his times were so high, but they could end up costing him dearly. Before the Combine, Haden was considered a probable top-15 pick in the draft.

But it’s hard to imagine a cornerback with a 4.6 40 going that high. This could cost Haden a lot of cash.

My thought here is Haden is going to have to run the 40 again at Pro Day on March 17. And he’s going to have to lower his time significantly to overcome what he did Tuesday.

There’s no question Haden is a great player, and it will show up on all the tape the coaches and scouts will be studying on him over the next few weeks. But a 4.6 40 is a huge, huge red flag. I’m sure he’s as shocked as anyone at this point.

Knowing how competitive he is, I have a feeling Haden will redeem himself at Pro Day.

27 COMMENTS

  1. No doubt he has to do much better on pro day. Like you said that could cost him millions. I really thought he would be in the top ten picks, now if he doesn’t get better with that time he may not see the first round or see it pass him by.

  2. There’s speed and there’s football speed. What so many don’t recognize is that when you put on the uniform and the pads and helmet, things change dramatically. Some guys will impress in a track suit or shorts but when they hit that field in the unis they lose the edge. Some guys get on that field with the uni and fly. Joe Haden, just like Jerry Rice, shines on the field.

  3. Good observation TD; 40 yard times are important to a cornerback in the open field but acceleration, lateral movement and closing speed are just as important too. Then again maybe it just wasn’t his day. Agree with all the above, hopefully things will go better in G’ville.

  4. I’m sure Haden is a competitor and wouldn’t sandbag the combine. But if he happens to drop to the 19th pick for Atlanta, I wouldn’t be complaining. And he might like playing on a team with a legitimate shot at the playoffs as opposed to the Raiders.

  5. All well said but its whether it will cost him money, not whether he will be good or not. The 40 time is there for a purpose and its given a higher impact on certain positions than others, CB being one of the top along with RB and WR. And so if he falls past Cleveland then it costs him as thats where everyone thinks he is going as of now, or at least two days ago.

  6. Ironic that Mel Kiper’s pre-combine analysis of him mostly compliments him for speed:

    “excellent top-end speed”

    “Shows elite burst out of pedal and can make up a lot of ground when the ball is in the air.”

    “Fluid hips and can turn and run with receivers when asked to line up close to the line of scrimmage”

    “Times blitzes well and can get to the quarterback in a flash.”

    “hows excellent burst coming out of cuts.”

    http://insider.espn.go.com/nfldraft/draft/tracker/player?id=25724

  7. And there is the factor of starting from a track stance. How many times do any players, at any position start from the blocks, or even a three point stance? Offensive linemen sometimes do, but they often don’t put their hand on the ground, either. It’s a track thing. DBs generally start from a “football” position and backpedal,not start from a three point stance and run forward in a straight line. That’s one reason why many track guys don’t shine in football, as well as size and aversion to contact.

  8. When was the last time any of us saw Haden with his hand in the dirt? Of all the positions, this one is all about the first backward step and then the turn-and-burn after…personally, I don’t care…maybe everyone will pass him over and the Fins will get him cheap…bad for Joe; great for Miami and the fans.

  9. I dont think it will cost him anything. look at Reggie Nelson for example. ran a horrible 40 time in Indy, came back to florida and ran a quote unquote 4.3. which i think is a lie btw. anyway, i bet any amount of money he will run a 4.3 at florida. happens every year

  10. Don’t forget the time between the ears – read & recognition. I always felt that was Reggie Nelson’s best attribute, he simply knew where to go and what to do extremely quickly. Haden has that too.

    That is my biggest worry for Tebow. He, like most QB’s, struggles when confused and can look very human. Preparation helps, but adjusting to the speed and preparation of your opponentand defeating him is the hardest part of playing in the NFL. I think Tebow and Haden will do fine, but that is where my worry is with Tebow.

  11. 40 times mean NOTHING! Unless the wide receivers he covers are running nothing but Go routes the whole game, this should not affect his draft status at all. WAY too much emphasis is placed on the 40. Oakland had the opportunity to draft Michael Crabtree. Instead, they went with Darrius Heyward-Bey because he had a faster 40 time. How has that worked out for them. As a matter of fact, how has that whole JeMarcus Russel thing worked out for them. Afterall, he was such an animal at the Combine, and showed great physical tools. Oh wait, THAT’S right, he isn’t any good at football. Oops.

  12. he should have stayed at uf another year to get better all around, major wright also, lots of guys leave too early and imho i think the ncaa should make all ncaa football players stay the full 4 years so the coaches can make some concrete plans instead of having to put up with all this junk every year. yeah it costs the player a year of a zillion dollars but if it werent for the college team they signed with they wouldnt have a shot at the big money anyway so show some loyalty and gratitude instead of jumping out as soon as the draft board says your a good pick. of course that will never happen unless the ncaa forces it on the players, which also will never happen.

  13. Montana gator – remember those scholarships aren’t 4 years, they’re 1 year each, and coaches have the ability to yank them for poor performance on the field or in the classroom if called for. So players don’t necessarily need to show too much loyalty – its a 2-way street.

  14. Corners never line up and run straight forward….ever. Turning your hips, lateral speed, make-up speed, breaking on the ball, positioning, tackling, etc are much more important. Joe Hayden is a great football player. I can’t think of any receiver in the SEC that ever got very much seperation on Joe….and I’ve never seen anyone better at tracking and tackling in the open field. If I need a corner, I’m taking him first.

  15. I don’t understand the NFL.

    You would think, after seeing so many first round busts and late round pro-bowlers, they would start to realize that football is about more than height, weight and 40 time (well, a few of them do, but most don’t).

    Haden’s draft position won’t change his career, other than lowering his first contract.

    If his 40 time doesn’t get better, he’ll end up getting drafted a bit lower by a SMART GM, one of the few who knows a football player when he sees one, and will probably get a ring or two out of the deal. Meanwhile, the coaches at the top of the draft (who aren’t there by accident) will all be wondering why they drafted the “faster” guy who is already out of the league.

  16. I bet that a lot of veteran corners in the NFL, even if they ran a 4.4 40 coming in, have lost a step or two, but are as good or better even at a slower speed. Haden will make a good Tampa 2 cornerback even if he is not the fastest guy in the 40.

  17. I disagree with the author and most of the comments. The fastest DB 40 at the combine was a 4.47 and Robbie wanted Joe to run a sub 4.4? That’s just not realistic. His first run was just a tenth off the fastest. Joe is still the top DB on everyones board and his draft status wont change much if at all.

  18. For me, it’s hard to imagine two tenths (one fifth) of a second making all that much difference. So I ran the numbers. In 4 seconds a 4.4 runner will get 1.6 yards further down field than a 4.6 runner. That could well be the difference between a pass breakup and a touchdown. Hopefully, Joe just had a bad day.

  19. Ok.. my numbers were off. Thats what I get for trusting articles and not looking on NFL.com. I still think Joe is the first CB taken. Just dont see the best CB in the draft going late first or early 2nd.

  20. I actually think this will help Joe in the long run. He’ll likely fall a few spots in the first round, but to a better team (since they pick later). Good teams have a way of making their individual players look better on the field than bad teams do.

    I hope he falls to the Falcons.

  21. Tampa Dave, you have a point about speed and football speed, but right now he needs to impress with speed. This is the criteria that the scouts and general managers are using right now. If his speed is not better it will hurt his position as to where he is picked, That is what determines your money. No, he is not going to suffer when he put the pads on, but the damage as far as the money goes is done. They have seen him in the pads and they know what he can do, but in the negotiations this is were they start to draw back on the money.

  22. Jack 49, as we all know football is a game of inches. You are now talking about yards not inches or feet. Everybody knows Joe has the talent and will not be a bust, in fact he’s going to be a very good player in the league. My point is, right now the people with the purse have certain expectations false or real and its up to the athlete to meet certain standard to get certain level of compensation. I just hope he get better number by pro day, a lot of money is at stake.

  23. Someone has to explain to me how he is going to lose much money if he is still the top cb on the vast majority of boards? If a team needs a CB, will they take a risk to trade down and still get him? Will they draft a different corner solely based on a better 40 time, film and talent be damned?