(Editor's Note: With the offseason in full swing, the focus is now shifting to the 2016 season, where the Cowboys have one of the toughest schedules in the NFL. Not only do the Cowboys face five playoff teams but many of the top players in football. So the writers of DallasCowboys.com have ranked the Top 50 players expected to be on the field this season, including the Cowboys. Today, we continue the list with Browns cornerback Joe Haden)
Name: Joe Haden
Experience: 6 seasons
What's the Deal: Six years into his professional career, the two-time Pro Bowler is facing some of his toughest adversity at the NFL level. Haden has been one of the handful of elite cornerbacks in the game during the past three or four seasons, but injuries forced him to miss extensive playing time in 2015. Haden suffered two separate concussions during the season and missed every game after Week 8 – appearing in a career-low five games on the year. If that weren't enough, he aggravated a previous ankle injury during an offseason workout and underwent surgery to repair it. Haden missed all of OTAs and minicamp, and it's uncertain if he'll be available for the start of training camp. The former No. 7 overall pick intends to be ready for the start of the regular season, where he hopes he can return to the form that saw him earn a five-year $68 million contract extension back in 2014.
Expect This: The Cowboys don't travel to play the Browns until Week 9, on Nov. 6, so it seems like a safe bet that Haden will be in the lineup for this matchup. If that's the case, we'll likely see a showdown of star caliber players, as Haden will likely be asked to handle the coverage of Dez Bryant.
Previous Meetings: Playing his whole career in the AFC, Haden has never actually played the Cowboys in his six-year career. Injuries forced him out of the teams' only meeting back in 2012 – a 23-20 Cowboys win at AT&T Stadium. Bryant took advantage of his absence in a big way, as Tony Romo targeted him 15 times on the day. He came down with 12 receptions for 145 yards and a touchdown. That score helped the Cowboys overcome a 13-0 deficit to grab a fourth-quarter victory.
Bryan Broaddus Scouting Report:
- Confident and challenges receivers. Competitive playmaker.
- Usually handles the opponent's best receiver, but he does line up in the slot. Throws his body around as a tackler but doesn't always wrap up.
- Well-built with long arms. Good functional strength. Uses his hands to jam receivers at the line. Can walk up nose-to-nose and handle the job.
- Has loose hips and quick feet. Turns easily and can drive on the ball. Has smooth turns with acceleration and catch up speed. Keeps position on receiver. Hard man to run away from due to his speed. Plays with an extended burst. Can cover some ground.[embeddedad0]
- Haden shows range in the way he plays. Will battle for ball but it will go over the top of his head too. He has a little problem with size.
- Tough-minded and accepts a challenge. Does not shy away from contact. Good body control and ball skills. Outstanding movement skills in zone. Very comfortable in the way he plays. Never plays like he is stressed. Shows football intelligence.
- Doesn't get fooled on routes. Not the type of corner that guesses on plays. Solid key and diagnose. Understands what the receiver is trying to do to him.
Haden has typically been a durable player until last season when he suffered ankle, rib, finger and head injuries. Just now is recovering from ankle surgery he had in March.