by J.T. Toth
Photo courtesy of Sports Illustrated.
At Draft 412, the NFL draft talk never ends. We will keep you ready for the next set of gridiron stars—from today and all the way until draft night 2024. We will bring you mock drafts, player profiles, individual team needs, and everything else you may need related to the 2024 NFL Draft.
Today’s Spotlight - Tennessee, Cornerback, Kamal Hadden
Name - Kamal Hadden
Pos - CB
Team - Tennessee
HT/WT - 6’1” 197 lbs.
Home – Ypsilanti, MI
Kamal Hadden played high school football at Rouge High School in Michigan, where he was a 2-year starter in football. He showed off his athleticism by also starring on Rouge’s basketball team. Hadden had a big senior season and was named all-conference for the 10-1 Panthers. Coming out of his senior year, he was a 3-star prospect. Though he had some Division 1 offers, he decided to attend Independence Community College in Kansas.
In 2019, Hadden played in 10 games as a true freshman and was a solid contributor to the Independence defense. On the season, he finished with 21 tackles, 3 forced fumbles, 1 interception and 8 pass breakups. Independence did not play a fall season in 2020 due to Covid and coming out of 2019, 247Sports rated Hadden as the no. 5 overall junior college cornerback. After originally signing with Auburn in December 2020, he later transferred and enrolled at Tennessee in time for the 2021 season.
As a redshirt sophomore at Tennessee, Hadden had to work his way into the lineup and as the season progressed, he played in 7 games, starting 2 later in the campaign. He was productive in his limited time, collecting 17 tackles and 1 interception for the Vols.
During the 2022 season, Hadden worked his way into the starting lineup for the Vols, starting 6 of the 9 games he played in. He ranked 6th on the team in tackles with 51, to go along with 3.5 tackles for loss, 2 interceptions, 3 pass breakups and a fumble recovery.
Kamal Hadden was off to a fantastic start in his first 7 games of the 2023 season for Tennessee. He was tied for 14th in the nation with 3 interceptions and 3rd in the FBS with 11 passes defended. Well on his way to a career season, he suffered a season ending shoulder injury in week 8 against Alabama.
Hadden is an athletic cornerback with good length that he uses to disrupt passes. He tracks the ball like a wide receiver and has dependable hands on interception opportunities. He does an effective job of reading the quarterback’s eyes and shows solid instincts when the ball is thrown. He has agile feet and makes a smooth transition from his backpedal to opening up, helping him stick to receivers in route. His playing is fast, covering a lot of ground in a short time. He flashes his physicality in run defense and does not shy away from hitting.
On the downside, Hadden hits the panic button more than you’d like to see, and can become grabby when the ball is in the air, causing pass interference calls. When tackling, he needs to improve his overall mechanics. Between taking long routes to the ball and not wrapping up, he struggles in the run game. During his career, he has had trouble over the top and can be baited with a pump fake from time to time. Injury concerns may also creep up in NFL discussions as he’s been hurt multiple times during his college career and scouts will want to know he is 100%.
A good comparison for Kamal Hadden is Brandon Stephens. Stephens was a 3rd round pick out of SMU in the 2021 draft. Stephens struggled in the run game and though he was a big play cornerback, he was susceptible to giving up big plays as well. Hadden has some upside and can end up being a solid starting quarterback who can play out on an island in the NFL.
Reads qb’s eyes
Kamal Hadden has the athleticism and the big play ability to make it at the next level. He needs to prove he can stay healthy and needs to improve his tackling techniques. He may be one of those guys that you have to live with the occasional penalty from time to time. Hadden will be a nice mid-round pick and addition to a team’s secondary.
Draft 412 Draft Prediction - 4th or 5th round