BEREA—The Browns made no bones about it that they were trying to improve their secondary in this year’s draft.
Using their first two selections, they selected cornerback Joe Haden (7th overall) and safety T.J. Ward (38th overall). Knowing the pair could hopefully, be cornerstones for the Browns’ secondary for many years, the duo immediately bonded on their first day of rookie minicamp.
“I didn’t know (Ward) at all,” Haden said. “We saw each other and talked at the NFL Combine and now we’re both with the Browns and we’ve talked of the possibilities.”
Ward said the pair meshed well in their first practices at the pro level.
“We are similar in our characteristics,” Ward said. “We communicate well.”
Haden (5-11, 193), is favored to be at least one of the top three cornerbacks with the Browns, if not the starter. GM Tom Heckert said prior to the draft that he would think the seventh pick in the draft should start as a rookie.
Haden said he’ll take it in stride.
“I don’t know (if I’ll start),” he said. “I’m trying to learn and get better.
“If I end up starting, that would be a great thing.”
The Browns really had no clear cut starter at safety since Brodney Pool defected to the Jets in the off-season at free safety.
“Whatever the situation is, I see it as an opportunity,” Ward said. “I want to prove myself and do the best I can. Only time will tell.”
Ward (5-10, 211), might be the key pick for the Browns because he was projected some to not be taken as high as the Browns took him.
Was he surprised the Browns took him at the top of the second-round?
“Based on the mock drafts it might have been a surprise,” Ward said. “(But I’m not surprised) because of my abilities.”
Ward is described as a physical safety and he concurs with the assessment.
“I pride myself on physicality,” Ward said. “That is one of my better attributes. Overall, I want to be a good player and a better teammate.”
Ward made it at Oregon the hard way as he started his collegiate career as a walk-on.
“I’ve persevered,” he said. “It’s paid off so far. I’m going to continue to work hard. That part is not going to change.”
Haden was asked who he would compare his game to.
“I haven’t played a down in the NFL, yet,” Haden said. “I couldn’t tell you who I would be like, but I like Darrelle (Revis). Hopefully, one day I can be like him.”
Meanwhile, Ward scored points with Buckeye fans when he said one of his heroes was former Buckeye and Oakland Raider Jack Tatum. Ward was even born when Tatum played, but Ward was well aware of him through his father, Terrell, who played with the Eagles.
“I’ve watched (Tatum) on film and highlights and from growing up in the Bay area,” he said.
Besides Tatum, Ward said he models his game after Ronnie Lott and Troy Polamalu.
“If I could be mentioned in the same breath with those guys, that would be incredible,” Ward said. “But, I’m starting out on the bottom of the totem pole.”
Both Haden and Ward said they learned their first day about the distinct differences between the NFL and the college game.
“This is different because there are better athletes,” Ward said. “This is the highest level.”
Haden said his learning experience was on the field.
“One of the first things was in 7-on-7,” Haden said. “I like to keep my hands on the receiver and the ref told me to get my hands off the receiver. I’ll have to get used to that five-yard rule.”
Haden Used to being in the Background: CB Joe Haden was asked if it bothered him being overshadowed by the selection of QB Colt McCoy, even though Haden was selected seventh, while McCoy was the 85th overall selection.
“Whether it’s (Colt) McCoy or (Tim) Tebow,” Haden said. “It happens all the time.”
Browns Sign 10 FA: The Browns signed 10 college free agents for their Minicamp. They are: OL Casey Bender (So. Dakota St.), DB Benjamin Burney (Colorado), DB Chris Chancellor (Clemson), LB Auston English (Oklahoma), WR Johnathan Haggerty (SW Oklahoma St.), DL Swanson Miller (Oklahoma St.), WR Dion Morton (Colorado St.), OL Joel Reinders (Waterloo), WR Aaron Valentin (Purdue) and TE Troy Wagner (Indiana).
Harrell Back: QB Graham Harrell from Texas Tech was invited as a tryout player. Harrell participated as a tryout invitee in 2009, but was not signed and did not play in the NFL last year. Harrell had a record-setting college career at Texas Tech where he paired up with WR Michael Crabtree . Harrell and rookie QB Colt McCoy were the only two quarterbacks listed on the rookie minicamp roster.