Oct 26, 2014; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Browns cornerback Joe Haden (23) returns a fumble during the third quarter against the Oakland Raiders at FirstEnergy Stadium. The Browns beat the Raiders 23-13. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
Cleveland Browns cornerback Joe Haden came in at No. 23 on the NFL Network’s list of the Top 100 players of 2015.
The results are from voting by the league’s players, who moved Haden up 13 spots from his ranking in 2013.
Haden has been the Browns’ top cornerback since entering the starting lineup midway through his rookie season in 2010. Since then, the two-time Pro Bowler has grown into the best player in the secondary and one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL. In 2014, Haden had three interceptions (giving him 16 in his NFL career) and had 20 passes defended.
“No challenge is too big for Joe,” head coach Mike Pettine told the team’s website. “He looks forward to it. He’s not a guy that kind of shies away from that. I think there are times when it’s certain coverages or situations where we’re not putting him on maybe their No. 1. He wants it, but he’s as good a team guy as I’ve been around.
“He’ll say, ‘Coach, wherever you need to use me.’ To me, it’s been kind of a hallmark of our style of defense, our system, to have that type of corner that you can lock down one receiver or one side of the field and be able to kind of allocate resources coverage wise elsewhere.”
Related: Joe Thomas at No. 25 on NFL’s Top 100 List
Haden is a key part of one of the best secondaries in the league, one that is looking to build on its success from 2014. Last season, the Browns finished:
- ninth in the NFL in points allowed (21.1 per game),
- tied for 10th by allowing opposing offenses to convert on just 38 percent of third-down attempts,
- second in interceptions with 21,
- eighth in pass yards allowed per game at 224.5, and;
- first in the league in allowing opposing quarterbacks to complete just 57.1 percent of their pass attempts.
Haden has also matured from the player who was suspended for four games at the start of the 2012 season for using Adderall without a prescription into a team leader that takes on the responsibility of mentoring the team’s younger players as they make the transition to the NFL.
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“This is my sixth year in the league (and) it sounds crazy when I even say it,” Haden told Northeast Ohio Media Group. “But I know what’s going on. I understand the league, I’m mature now. … So just being able to talk to them and they respond to what I’m saying because they know I went through the same exact thing.”
He is also active in the community, often being seen court side at a Cleveland Cavaliers game, and through his charitable work, like the Joe Haden and Friends Celebrity Softball Game that benefits the Lake Health Foundation, Captains Charities and the Special Olympics.
What do you think of Joe Haden’s ranking on the Top 100 list?