Head 2 Head Spotlight: Haden vs. LaFell

Scout.com's Chris Steuber profiles two of the top prospects in the country, Florida junior cornerback Joe Haden and LSU wide receiver Brandon LaFell. Steuber also tells you the NFL teams that will scout Saturday night's SEC heavyweight showdown between No. 1 Florida and No. 4 LSU, and ranks the other top prospects playing in the game.

#1 Florida (4-0) at #4 LSU (5-0)
Saturday, October 10th at 8:00 p.m. on CBS


Haden is the top CB in the country and if he declares for the '10 draft, he will be a top-20 pick.
Sam Greenwood /Getty Images

Joe Haden is a playmaking cover corner who plays with a degree of physicality. He has good size and the ability to lockdown the opposition. He’s quick backpedaling off the line, fluidly transitions with receivers and positions himself to make a play on the ball. He possesses a burst of closing speed that allows him to recover easily, and has the deep speed and athleticism to get vertical and defend a pass in midair. He has great instincts and is willing to defend against the run. Haden is a complete player and a future cornerstone defender of an NFL defense.

Draft Projection: 1st Round

Brandon LaFell is a big play threat who possesses a great combination of size and speed. He’s quick off the line, physical with the defender and sells his routes nicely. He’s a smooth receiver that makes everything look effortless and has the athleticism to adjust to any ball thrown his way. He runs well laterally, doesn’t shy away from contact over the middle and has deceptive deep speed to make plays down field. He catches the ball cleanly with his hands, but tends to lose concentration and will drop catchable passes. He’s tough to bring down after the catch, breaks tackles and is elusive in the open field. He’s an outstanding blocker downfield and takes pride in doing the little things that help his team win.

Draft Projection: 1st Round


A classic matchup between two storied programs in college football, Florida and LSU is a rivalry that always has major ramifications on the National Championship. Over the years, Florida has dominated this matchup, but with Gators quarterback Tim Tebow questionable for the game, LSU’s defense can breathe easier and not have to worry about Tebow’s every move.

But the Gators defense, most notably Haden, will have to worry about LaFell’s ability to impact a game. Haden and LaFell have faced each other twice in their careers, and in those two contests, it’s been an intriguing head-to-head battle. Haden has totaled 16 tackles and an interception and LaFell has hauled in 13 receptions for 132 yards, but no touchdowns.

Haden, a junior, enters this weekend’s game with 21 tackles, a sack and an interception, while LaFell has caught 23 passes for 282 yards and five touchdowns. This will be a battle that scouts in attendance will focus on as both players figure to be first round draft picks next April; that’s if Haden declares for the draft.


LaFell, just like Haden, is the top player at his position, and will be a hot commodity next April.
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

has confirmed that representatives from the Buffalo Bills, Cleveland Browns and Seattle Seahawks will travel to Baton Rouge, Louisiana to see a battle between two SEC heavyweights, Florida and LSU.

It’s surprising that only three teams will attend Saturday night’s game, but the presence of the Browns is interesting, especially since they traded former first round pick and Pro Bowl wide receiver Braylon Edwards this week to the New York Jets.

Edwards hasn’t been the same player since his breakout 2007 season when he caught 80 passes for 1,289 yards and 16 touchdowns. In four games this season, Edwards had just 10 catches for 139 yards, and his off the field problems and tendency to drop easy balls wore thin on the organization and made him expendable. Probably not helping Edwards’ longevity in Cleveland was the breakout performance last week of 2009 second round pick Mohamed Massaquoi, who caught eight passes for 148 yards against the Bengals. Even though the Browns are high on Massaquoi, they still have a need for a front-line receiver, and LaFell, who’s projected to be a top-20 pick in the ’10 draft, is the type of game breaking threat that they desperately need.

The Bills and Seahawks will also show interest in LaFell and Haden, but they will focus on the other talent both teams feature on Saturday night.


In addition to Haden and LaFell, here’s a list of prospects – in ranked order – from each team that scouts will focus on during Saturday’s game:



1. Brandon Spikes, LB
2. Tim Tebow, QB
3. Riley Cooper, WR
4. Jermaine Cunningham, DE
5. Brandon James, RB
6. Carl Moore, WR (will not play, back injury)
7. Dustin Doe, LB


1. Carlos Dunlap, DE
2. Maurkice Pouncey, C
3. Mike Pouncey, OG
4. Lawrence Marsh, DT
5. Aaron Hernandez, FB/TE
6. Ahmad Black, SS
7. Major Wright, FS
8. Lorenzo Edwards, OLB
9. Chas Henry, P
10. Carl Johnson, OT
11. A.J. Jones, OLB
12. Emmanuel Moody, RB
13. Marcus Gilbert, OT
14. Jim Barrie, OG
15. Terron Sanders, DT



1. Ciron Black, OT
2. Charles Scott, RB
3. Rahim Alem, DE
4. Perry Riley, OLB
5. Chris Hawkins, CB
6. Richard Dickson, FB/TE
7. Keiland Williams, RB
8. Harry Coleman, SS
9. Al Woods, DT
10. Trindon Holliday, WR
11. Danny McCray, FS
12. Jacob Cutrera, MLB
13. Lyle Hitt, OG


1. Chad Jones, FS
2. Terrance Toliver, WR
3. Drake Nevis, DT
4. Kelvin Sheppard, MLB
5. Joseph Barksdale, DL/OL
6. Jai Eugene, CB
7. Akiem Hicks, DT


A member of the Pro Football Writers of America and the Football Writers Association of America, Chris Steuber has provided his analysis of the NFL and NFL Draft prospects on the web and on the radio since 1999. Steuber’s features are published across the Scout.com network and on FoxSports.com. If you wish to contact Chris Steuber, email him at: csteuber@scout.com. You can also now follow Chris Steuber on Twitter.

Scout NFL Network Top Stories