While most will focus on Johnny Manziel coming to the Cleveland Browns, another force has come to Cleveland in this year’s draft; the Haitian nation. The country of Haiti is having a meteoric rise in recent years in terms of not just having players born there come to the NFL, but having a ton of success. Jason Pierre-Paul and Pierre Garςon are the two most famous exports and the Browns have gotten their own this year in cornerback Pierre Desir out of Lindenwood. And much like Haiti as a football factory, Desir has had his own incredible rise that has him realizing his NFL dream.
After emigrating to the United States at the age of four with his family, Desir was an all-state corner that had an academic abnormality that caused him to attend Washburn University in Topeka, KS. Desir attended for three years, red shirting as a freshman, but showcased his ball skills with 12 interceptions in his next two seasons, third in the school’s history.
After his third year at Washburn, Desir transferred to Lindenwood in St. Charles, MO. In two years playing for the Lions, Desir deflected 30 passes and picked off 13, taking one back for a touchdown. This is when he drew notice from the NFL and got his biggest opportunity to showcase his talents.
Desir was the most anticipated invitation to the Reese’s Senior Bowl among small school players. In what was the biggest week of his life, Desir never backed down. He and fellow small school corner Walt Aikens took on all comers and thrived. The difference is that Aikens was initially recruited and started his career at Illinois, so even though he was coming out of Liberty, he had a hint of what he could expect against big school competition.
Many mall school players take a day to adjust to the competition and getting over the shock of the atmosphere and just how big the event is, both in terms of teams, media, and everything that comes with the Senior Bowl. Desir hit the ground running and never stopped. Not only was he able to show off his ability in man coverage and his overall length that made him an attractive prospect, but Desir was a guy who engaged with the media and people who wanted to take the time to speak with him.
Desir gave people another opportunity to get a sense of who he was, appearing on Draft Academy, a series following a few players as they prepared for and were ultimately drafted into the NFL. Whether people want to chalk it up to the challenges he faced as a child, credit his parents and family, his own drive, or some combination of all of them, Desir has found a way to excel on and off the football field.
When the Browns took Desir after they took Justin Gilbert in round 1, there was a sense that they just felt Desir was simply too good to pass up. It was a surprise that Desir lasted into round 4 the way he did (I graded him as a second round pick), but the Browns saw an opportunity to put a huge stamp on their secondary. It remains to be seen if the Browns just want Desir to be a corner if they will also look at him as a safety in certain situations. What is apparent is whatever the Browns throw at Desir, he has shown he can handle it and thrive.