|Height: 5-11 | Weight: 193 | College: Florida|
Without a doubt the best cover cornerback in college football, Haden has drawn comparisons to some of the National Football League's elite at his position -- Leon Hall (Cincinnati), Darrelle Revis (New York Jets) and Charles Woodson (Green Bay).
He changed positions twice since arriving at Florida as a blue-chip quarterback prospect. With Tim Tebow already residing at that position, the coaches decided to shift Haden to wide receiver, but after being listed behind Percy Harvin on the depth chart, the defensive coaches petitioned for his services. He made such a remarkable transition to his new assignment, that Haden became the first true freshman in school history to start his first career game at cornerback for the Gators.
Blessed with an incredible work ethic, fluid hips and the agility to easily turn and run with any receiver, he never allowed a touchdown reception while starting all 40 games he played for Florida. A unanimous All-American selection, Haden was a finalist for the Jim Thorpe Award, presented annually to the top defensive back in college football.
Haden's father is a former professional bodybuilder and track star at Morgan State University, who now owns his own gym in District Heights, Maryland. He started training his kids as 8-year-olds, teaching them footwork and agility drills. He later allowed them to lift weights when they were 12.
"I was always working out, going to the gym and playing basketball," Haden Sr. said. "So growing up and seeing that, that's all they wanted to do. It wasn't like I was pushing them. They wanted it." Haden Sr. worked as a manager at Geico insurance company in Stafford County while the family lived in Spotsylvania from 1994 to 2001.
The Haden brothers attended Battlefield and Wilderness elementary schools, and Joe later attended Ni River Middle until the family moved away before his seventh-grade year. "Mostly I remember playing sports," Joe Haden said of his time growing up. "I remember playing football and recreation basketball. It was the most fun time because we always had pretty good teams."
Joe was more than just good. He took his first ever play in organized football for a 98-yard touchdown on a quarterback keeper. He said Josh picked up "eight or nine" sacks per game as a nose guard, and later Jordan joined the Buccaneers as a defensive end and outside linebacker. "Joe was unstoppable," Jordan said. "And Josh just ran people over."
That didn't change when the family moved to Maryland. Joe and Josh starred for Friendly High School, and Jordan is in the midst of a productive career there. Joe set a state record with 7,371 career passing yards, and he tied the state mark with 80 touchdowns while leading Friendly to the 3A state title as a senior in 2006. Josh ran for 1,350 yards and 25 touchdowns as a senior last year.
Haden Sr. said he's "humbled" by the success his kids have had on the field.
Haden Sr., 40, formed Haden Sports & Performance six years ago. He was initially hesitant to form the business and give up working in insurance.
Haden Sr. listened. His gym is now a place where aspiring college football players go to get prepared for camps and combines. It's what helped Joe run the 40-yard dash in 4.34 seconds and bench press 185 pounds 40 times at the Elite College Camp in Waldwick, New Jersey
The training from Haden Sr. also enabled Josh to become the combine MVP his junior year after he earned a No. 1 SPARQ (speed, power, agility, reaction and quickness) rating.
Haden Sr.'s training doesn't stop after the workouts. He also encouraged Joe, Josh and Jordan to attend summer school, so they can graduate one semester early and enroll in college the January of their senior year of high school. It helped both Joe and Josh secure starting spots as true freshmen because they were allowed to participate in spring practice at Florida and Boston College, respectively.
Haden arrived at Florida as a raw athlete, but quickly developed into the nation's best coverage defender. "His first year, Joe wasn't a good corner," head coach Urban Meyer recalls. "He was an athlete, a tough guy. Corner takes a lot of confidence. It takes a lot of God-given ability. That's one of the hardest job descriptions there are. He always studies the game. Joe understands splits of receivers, he understands pattern concepts."
Haden has elite coverage skills and his 42 career passes defended (34 pass deflections, eight interceptions) is a testament to his ability to stick to receivers like glue. As a true freshman, Haden became the first cornerback in Florida history to start in his first season. He was new to the position and it showed as the Gators' pass defense ranked a lowly 98th nationally allowing 258.54 aerial yards per game.
However as Haden became more familiar with his new spot, his play greatly improved and the pass defense followed, giving up 179.86 yards through the air per game to rank 20th in the country. He became one of the nation's elite collegiate defenders as a junior and the effectiveness of Florida's secondary showed his improvement as the Gators boasted the nation's fourth-best pass defense allowing just 152.79 aerial yards per game.
Haden was a standout quarterback and defensive back at Friendly High School. The four-year starter set a Maryland public school record with 7,361 career passing yards and tied the career mark for touchdown passes with 80. As a senior, he racked up 2,783 yards with 38 touchdowns through the air and rushed for 899 yards and 13 more touchdowns.
A four-year starter at quarterback, he set Maryland state records for passing yards (7,371) and touchdown passes (80) and led Friendly to the Class 3A State football title in 2006 with a 14-0 undefeated record. He was also the point guard of a basketball team that won two state titles.
Being an undersized quarterback, it was unclear what position Haden would play at the collegiate level. Scout.com projected him as a wide receiver, listing him as the nation's 22nd-best prospect at the position.
Rivals.com ranked him as the nation's third best athlete prospect, as both recruiting services gave him a four-star rating. Haden received scholarship offers from countless schools, but ultimately signed with Florida over Pittsburgh, Ohio State and Tennessee.
Haden graduated high school early and enrolled at Florida in January of 2007. He would become the first player in school history to start at cornerback as a true freshman. He started every game but one, missing the Florida State game due to an ankle sprain, and was selected to the All-Southeastern Conference Freshman team.
Haden led all cornerbacks and ranked sixth on the team with 63 tackles (43 solos), including 3.5 stops for losses. The athletic defensive back led the Gators and ranked fifth in the SEC with 12 pass deflections. He intercepted his first career pass in a loss at LSU. Haden was named a Freshman All-American by Sporting News and College Football News.
As a sophomore in 2008, Haden was an essential piece in the Gators' national champion-ship defense. He started all 14 games and ranked second on the squad with 87 tackles (61 solo), including one assisted sack for minus five yards.
He raised his level of play when it mattered most, as he led the team in tackles during the BCS National Championship game vs. Oklahoma (10 tackles, two pass deflections) as well as the SEC Championship game vs. Alabama (eight tackles, two pass deflections, one interception).
Haden registered 10 tackles, one pass deflection, and one interception returned 88 yards vs. Georgia to earn SEC Defensive Player of the Week honors. The interception return matched the fourth-longest in school history. He earned second-team All-SEC honors from the Associated Press and the league's coaches.
Haden and the top-ranked Gators had high expectations entering the 2009 season. Even they fell just short of their national championship hopes, the junior cornerback and the Gators put on a performance that surpassed that of the previous season, boasting the nation's fourth-ranked defense as they allowed just 252.57 yards in total offense per game.
Haden recorded 11 tackles, one sack, two forced fumbles, one interception and one pass deflection in a victory over South Carolina to earn SEC Defensive Player of the Week honors. The cornerback was widely regarded as the nation's best at his position and was a unanimous All-American selection (AFCA, FWAA, Walter Camp, AP).
Haden was also a finalist for the Jim Thorpe Award and added first-team All-SEC honors from the Associated Press and the league's coaches in 2009. After a stellar Sugar Bowl performance, where he shut down Cincinnati's renowned passing game, it came as no surprise when the decorated cornerback declared for the 2010 NFL Draft at the conclusion of his junior season.
Read & React: Typically plays in press or off-man coverage, reading the receiver to gain an advantage on the route. Good straight-line for the deep route. Reacts quickly in zone coverage and when he's facing the quarterback in man coverage. Little wasted motion in closing once he sees the ball in the air.
Man Coverage: Very strong in man coverage. Quick, active hands to provide an initial pop to the receiver in press coverage. Quick feet and loose hips for the transition to run downfield. Good balance and body control to mirror the receiver. Can plant his foot in the ground and explode out of cuts. Good use of hands downfield to prevent separation. Shows a legitimate late burst to close after the ball has been released. Good timing and hand-eye coordination to slap the ball away as it arrives.
Zone Coverage: Smooth, low backpedal out of his stance. Maintains cushion with his backpedal, keeping his eyes alert to receivers in his zone. Changes direction smoothly with no wasted motion. Plays even faster than he has been timed, a credit to his recognition and efficient change-of-direction ability.
Closing/Recovery: Among his best traits. Plants and drives back to the ball very well. Accelerates late and has the body control to contort in space and slap the ball away without drawing a flag. Good straight-line speed to run with any receiver and has a late burst to close if beaten initially. Locates the ball in the air. Good vertical and times his leaps to compete for the jump ball.
Run Support: Reads run and is quick to close toward the line of scrimmage. Evades blocks due to his lateral agility and anticipation and is willing to take on bigger ballcarriers. Understands his role on the edge and approaches it with a workmanlike mentality.
Tackling: Takes good tackle angles, going low against bigger ballcarriers. Isn't an explosive hitter. Grab-and-drag tackler more often than scouts would like, rather than wrapping up securely, but rarely has his tackles broken. Can be dragged a bit by bigger ballcarriers, but gets his man to the ground.
Intangibles: Signed with Florida as a standout prep quarterback and all-around athlete. Originally was expected to play slot receiver, but elected to compete for the starting cornerback position rather than back up Percy Harvin. Team-first player who is a standout special teams player despite his All-American status. Played in 2009 on the punt return, kickoff and punt teams.
Haden played in 40 games at Florida and started every contest, missing just one game in his career with a sprained ankle Recorded 218 tackles (157 solos), including 3.5 sacks for 24 yards in losses and 8.5 stops for losses of 48 yards Intercepted eight passes for 166 yards (20.75-yard average) in returns and deflected 34 other tosses His 88 yard return vs. Georgia in 2008 tied Anthone Lott (vs. Louisiana State, 1994) as the fourth longest interception return in Florida history behind Joe Brodsky (100 vs. Mississippi State, 1956), Jackie Simpson (100 vs. Mississippi State, 1955) and Tony George (89 vs. Tennessee, 1997) Forced three fumbles and recovered two others Blocked one kick attempt and returned one kickoff for 18 yards.
Unanimous first-team All-American selection (The NFL Draft Report, AFCA, Walter Camp, FWAA, The Sporting News, Associated Press, CBSSports.com, Phil Steele, College Football News, Pro Football Weekly) First-team All-Southeastern Conference selection (league's coaches, AP, The Sporting News, Phil Steele) Finalist for the Jim Thorpe Award, presented annually to the top defensive back in college football Named to the preseason watch list for the Bronko Nagurski Trophy, awarded annually to the nation's best defensive player by the FWAA and the Charlotte Touchdown Club The cornerback tied for third on the team with 68 tackles (53 solo), including three sacks for 19 yards and five stops for losses of 28 yards Ranked eighth in the Southeastern Conference with an average of 0.31 interceptions per game, as he totaled four interceptions with 20 yards in returns (5.00-yard average) Also deflected 10 passes, as his average of 1.00 passes defended per game tied for sixth in the SEC Added two forced fumbles and three QB pressures, including one on a third-down attempt Made 29 stops after receptions for 223 yards (7.69-yard average) and 12 first downs Held opponents to 2.86 yards per pass attempt, as he rerouted receivers away from 31 pass attempts, registering 23 third-down stops vs. the aerial game In 34 running plays he was involved in, the opposition gained 200 yards (5.88-yard average) and 10 first downs, including two third-down stops Added five stops on the kickoff coverage unit Posted two of his hits inside the red zone, including one on a goal-line play Earned SEC Defensive Player of the Week honors vs. South Carolina.
Sophomore All-American first-team selection by The NFL Draft Report and College Foot-ball News Second-team All-SEC choice by the league's coaches and Associated Press Named SEC Defensive Player of the Week vs. Georgia Started all fourteen games at weak-side cornerback, ranking second on the team with a career-high 87 tackles (61 solos) that included an assisted sack for a 5-yard loss Ranked 18th in the SEC with an average of 6.21 tacklers per game Caused and recovered a fumble Gained 136 yards on three interception returns and deflected twelve passes His stellar man coverage skills saw the Gators' secondary improve to rank 20th in the nation in pass defense (179.86 yards per game) after ranking 98th (258.54 yards per game) the previous campaign Also blocked one kick.
Freshman All-American first-team pick by The NFL Draft Report and College Football News, earning honorable mention from The Sporting News SEC All-Freshman team pick by the league's coaches Became the first true freshman to start a season opener at cornerback for Florida, taking over weak-side duties Led the secondary with 63 tackles (43 solo), the sixth-best overall total on the team Had 3.5 stops for losses of 15 yards, as he recovered a fumble and returned a kickoff 18 yards vs. Mississippi Deflected twelve passes and intercepted another for a 10-yard return.
2007: Missed the Florida State game (11/24) due to a sprained ankle.
Campus: 4.52 in the 40-yard dash 1.53 10-yard dash 2.56 20-yard dash 4.34 20-yard shuttle 11.12 60-yard shuttle 6.94 three-cone drill 35-inch vertical jump 10'5" broad jump Bench pressed 225 pounds 18 times 32 3/4-inch arm length 9 1/2-inch hands.
Attended Friendly High School (Fort Washington, Md.), playing football for head coach Marcus Berry Four-year starter at quarterback that set Maryland public school record with 7,371 career passing yards while tying the career mark for touchdown passes with 80 Threw for 2,090 yards with 22 touchdowns and rushed for over 500 yards as a junior Passed for 2,783 yards with 38 touchdowns while rushing for 899 yards and 13 touchdowns as a senior as he led his team to the Class 3A state football title with a 14-0 record Given a four-star rating by Scout.com, who listed him as the nation's 22nd wide receiver prospect Given a four-star rating by Rivals.com, who ranked him as the third athlete recruit in the nation, the 59th overall prospect in the country, and the top recruit in Maryland Chose to attend Florida over scholarship offers from Pittsburgh, Ohio State and Tennessee Also started at point guard for his school's basketball team that won two state titles Graduated early and enrolled in college in January of 2007.
Sociology major Parents are Joe and Zakiya Had four brothers whose names are Josh, Jordan, Jacob and Jonathan Josh Haden was a running back for the Boston College football team and Jordan Haden enrolled in January of 2010 to play football at Florida Born 4/14/89 Resides in Fort Washington, Maryland.