As the Browns were on the clock in the first round, multiple NFL outlets began reporting that Mike Holmgren was about to break a tie. GM Tom Heckert wanted cornerback Joe Haden out of Florida. Head Coach Eric Mangini wanted cornerback Kyle Wilson out of Boise State. With Eric Berry off the board to KC at 5, the Browns were still committed to addressing the defensive backfield and apparently had Haden and Wilson as their top two corners. In the end, we all know that Holmgren broke the tie in favor of Haden. Wilson fell all the way to the bottom of the first round to the New York Jets at 29. Jets head coach Rex Ryan dropped some not-so-subtle hints yesterday that his brother Rob, Browns defensive coordinator, wanted Wilson on the Browns:
“There is somebody that I really know well for a long time that basically said that he was their guy and they picked a lot earlier than us,” Rex Ryan said. “You can probably figure it out. That’s who he wanted and then after practice, I’m like ‘Yep. I guarantee you were right because this guy is the real deal.'”
Rex obviously never directly refers to his brother by name but it was well known that Browns coaches really liked Wilson and his first sentence seems a pretty clear allusion to his brother. I saw a number of Boise State games last year and Wilson consistently stood out as the most dominant player on the field. He was always around the ball and constantly making plays both on D and in special teams. He should be a valuable addition to the Jets.
The fact that one coach had a preference for Wilson should not be a comment on the ability of Haden. Wilson dropped all the way to the bottom of the first round and Haden was consistently ranked in the top 10-12 prospects of the draft. Haden was a dominant player at CB since his freshman year at the top program in the country. He will make an instant impact for the Browns.
While Wilson may have been Rob’s “guy,” Haden is no slouch and because he is one man’s alternative does not mean he is a lesser player. I imagine Browns fans may now compare these two throughout the season. Scott already warned us to avoid the Mays-Ward comparisons and nitpicking. There is never a draft where a coach does not get a guy he covets. But rarely does Rex Ryan make it a fairly public matter that his brother was in love with a guy that was a available to the Browns.
GM Tom Heckert consistently said that there was no debate between the two CBs as they were on the clock. Rob has not commented on the insinuation made by his brother. As for Joe Haden, the Florida product has been having a good first weekend in Berea as Terry Pluto detailed this morning:
The cornerback made an immediate impact when he was given some blitz formations to study, and the next day, he was called to the blackboard to diagram them. He was correct on every X and O.
We are one rookie camp into the 2010 season so let’s avoid the panicky judgments based on soundbites from a press conference in New York.