The excitement of the adding cornerback Justin Gilbert and quarterback Johnny Manziel in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft was tempered by the start of the second round on Friday by an ESPN report of a failed drug test by third-year wide receiver Josh Gordon.
According to the report, Gordon could be suspended for up to a year for the violation of the NFL's substance-abuse policy, but until official word comes down from the NFL, cornerback Joe Haden plans to support his teammate to the fullest extent.
"We've got to just love up on Josh," Haden said Wednesday. "We don't really know what the situation is right now. I just saw him a couple times in passing, but he knows that the team loves him. I do, everybody does. If he needs somebody to talk to, we'll definitely be here to talk to him."
Gordon missed the first two games of the 2013 regular season because of a drug-related suspension, but came back with a chip on his shoulder and ended up leading the NFL in receiving yards.
Despite playing with three different starting quarterbacks -- Brandon Weeden, Jason Campbell and Brian Hoyer -- and missing those first two games, Gordon caught 87 passes for a team-record, and NFL-best, 1,646 yards and nine touchdowns. He led the league in receiving yards, yards-per-game (117.6), longest reception (95-yard touchdown against Jacksonville on Dec. 1), and longest touchdown catch.
"It would be unfortunate," Haden said of having to play the 2013 season without Gordon. "He's amazing, but nobody really knows the situation or what's going on right now."
Although Haden does not know what the future holds for Gordon, he is well aware of what his teammate is going through, as he served a four-game suspension at the start of the 2012 regular season for a failed drug test.
During his month-long hiatus from the NFL, Haden got engaged to his long-time girlfriend, and now, wife, Sarah, and took the time to refocus his life on football and God. His change in lifestyle led to a Pro Bowl campaign last year and a $68 million contract extension this week that came with $45 million in guaranteed money and made him the highest-paid cornerback in the NFL.
"It's been a long ride, a little bit of bumps in the road, but now, it's all coming together," Haden said. "I'm super, super blessed. I got married, and that helped me out a whole lot. (I) just calmed down. I got into the Bible a lot more, and it's been a whole lot more about football. I think that's what really helped me out.
"The outside distractions, a lot of that stuff can get you mixed up because when you first come in and you're making a lot of money and things are all going good. You can lose sight. I think I have my priorities in order, and that really helped me out."
And the Browns are hoping for a similar turnaround for Gordon.
"Josh is learning and growing and improving as a person," owner Jimmy Haslam said at the Pro Football Hall of Fame Luncheon Club Monday. "He's learning how to work hard. He's learning how to become a professional. Josh is a smart young man. All of us have made mistakes when we were that age.
"We're counting on Josh to be a good football player for the Cleveland Browns for a long time to come. I've been very pleased with his professional growth over the last year and the way he handles himself."