NFL Nation: SEC

Sometimes looking back at the past can help project the future.

Is that the case for upcoming meetings between Cleveland Browns cornerback Joe Haden and new Cincinnati Bengals receiver A.J. Green?

[+] EnlargeJoe Haden and A.J. Green
AP Photo/Phil CoaleFormer Florida cornerback Joe Haden, shown intercepting a 2008 pass intended for A.J. Green, will battle the former Georgia receiver twice a season in the AFC North.
These two top-end athletes will take their SEC rivalry to the AFC North in what should be great, one-on-one battles twice a season. Haden was a first-round pick for Cleveland in 2010, while Green was this year's No. 4 overall pick for Cincinnati.

So who has the advantage in this high-profile matchup? Judging by their two games in college, Haden at Florida got the upper hand against Green at Georgia.

  • In 2009, the Gators won a blowout over the Bulldogs, 41-17. Green was a non-factor. Haden held the receiver to just three catches for 50 yards and zero touchdowns. Green's biggest play in the game was a 19-yard reception. But other than that, Green had trouble shaking Haden.
  • In 2008, Florida won another blowout, 49-10. Green had more success this time, with five receptions for 91 yards. Probably worth noting is Green's quarterback that year was Matthew Stafford, who turned out to be the No. 1 overall pick of the Detroit Lions. To Haden's credit, he intercepted Stafford in the game and returned the pick 88 yards.

Considering the possible variations of man and zone coverage, we double-checked the accuracy of these numbers with SEC blogger Chris Low, who says Haden was on Green "for much of the game."

Haden was 2-0 against Green in college and performed well in both meetings. Will Haden continue to have Green's number in the AFC North?

We don't have to wait long to find out. The Browns will host the Bengals in Week 1, where Haden likely will draw the assignment of covering Green in his NFL debut.

Can't wait!

Carlos Dunlap: Boom or bust?

April, 26, 2010
Cincinnati Bengals second-round pick Carlos Dunlap is one of the most intriguing draft selections this year in the AFC North.

[+] EnlargeCarlos Dunlap
Brad Schloss/Icon SMICarlos Dunlap clearly has the talent to play defensive end, but his intensity has been called into question.
In terms of talent, the Bengals got a tremendous prospect at defensive end. But every team passed over Dunlap in the first round -- and some passed Dunlap twice -- because of character and work ethic concerns.

Here is Dunlap's full scouting report, according to the draft experts at Pro Football Weekly:

  • Positives: Has exceptional body length and very long arms to disrupt passing lanes and bat balls. Has fluid movement skills, can open up his stride and string out plays to the sideline -- closes very quickly to the ball. Can split through the double-team. Engulfs ball carriers like an anaconda and is a sure tackler.
  • Negatives: His pass-rush repertoire is very limited. Intermittent intensity and effort--has a soft football-playing temperament and is too comfortable coasting and going through the motions. Lacks focus, and character is a big question -- was suspended for the SEC Championship Game after being arrested for DUI just four days before the game.

This is the enigma that is Dunlap: The positives are certainly alluring, but the negatives are very worrisome. That is why most consider Dunlap one of the biggest "boom-or-bust" players in this year's draft.

Perhaps working in Cincinnati's favor is that Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer is very stern with his players. That could be just what Dunlap needs. The Bengals also have experience with risky players before -- some have worked, while others did not.

Will Dunlap pan out for the reigning AFC North champs?