A stellar three-year college football career in the toughest conference in the country should be enough to convince NFL scouts, coaches and front office personnel that former Florida Gators cornerback Joe Haden will succeed as a professional. And it looked like it was enough, until Haden ran a 4.57 40-yard dash at the 2010 NFL Scouting Combine about two weeks ago.
Ever since, Haden has been doing little but working on his 40 time, mostly because he is confident that he can do better – much better. His father, Joe Haden, Sr., told the Palm Beach Post Tuesday that Haden’s performance at the combine was not representative of his true speed. In fact, Haden, Sr. revealed that his son’s back tightened up as he has recently been dealing with lower back pain from working out and weight lifting.
“We had stopped doing some of the heavier lifting, but it just stiffened up on him, one of those things,” Haden, Sr. told the Post. “It’s just really affected him. I wish I had known, because I would have had him not even work out.”
Evaluators do not want to hear excuses. All they care about is improvement, and Haden plans to do just that at Florida’s Pro Day on March 17.
“The 40 is what time it is right now. That’s the big bang for the buck, that’s what the scouts want to see,” Haden, Sr. said. “He’s preparing very hard, very hard, to put it mildly. […] For Joe, all his life, (speed) has been his biggest strength. So for something to happen like that for him, I mean, Joe ran a 4.5 40 in the ninth grade. It was just something that was a blip.”
That blip happened twice in one day, injury or not. And Haden has fallen out of the top 10 on most team’s draft boards, according to various scouts and evaluators throughout the league. When a player falters at the combine or faces other adversity before the NFL Draft, it is usually his agent – not his father – stepping up to quiet those doubters and shout about the qualifications of his client.
That is where this gets even more interesting.
While quarterback Tim Tebow chose Jimmy Sexton, wide receiver Riley Cooper and center Maurkice Pouncey picked Joel Segal and defensive end Carlos Dunlap signed up with Todd France, Haden’s representation remains somewhat of a mystery.
An OGGOA source has confirmed that Haden is being represented by DSI Sports, specifically agent Malik Hafeez Shareef. Certified in Sept. 2007 by the NFL Players Association, Shareef does not have a client in the NFL and failed at placing his previous one (WR Brandon Whittington of Purdue) with a professional team last season. For the record, Whittington had 26 catches for 206 yards and one touchdown in two seasons with the Boilermakers and is not anywhere near the same caliber player as Haden, who will be drafted ahead of any other Florida player in 2010.
So who exactly is Shareef, and why did Haden choose him over more established agents who would have done their best to squash any concern over his “slow” 40 time? Is he simply a NFLPA-certified front man so Haden, Sr. can manage his son’s career?
Either way, an explanation is needed for the little-to-no damage control that was done on behalf of Haden after his sub-standard 40-yard dash became one of the biggest stories coming out of the combine.