The first round of the 2014 NFL Draft features a handful of defensive tackle prospects more athletic than perhaps we’ve ever seen before. And Minnesota’s Ra’Shede Hageman is no exception.
The first-team All-Big Ten selection led the Golden Gophers with 13 tackles for a loss. The former two-time all-state tight end switched to defensive tackle as a redshirt freshman, where he was a natural fit.
Scouts like Hageman’s athleticism as a defensive lineman. While he has room for improvement, Hageman utilizes his hands well and plays with leverage. He thrived as a bull-rusher and in run defense during his time at Minnesota, and many scouts expect that progression to continue onto the professional ranks. CBS Sports’ Rob Rang put it plainly when he wrote that players don’t come more physically imposing than Hageman.
Unfortunately, Hageman was not as consistent as NFL front offices would have liked during the Senior Bowl, perhaps lowering his draft stock just a tad. That, in itself, makes Hageman’s biggest question mark his consistency, leaving him with the dreaded “boom-or-bust” label.
Hageman is ranked No. 20 overall by Todd McShay and is the third defensive tackle prospect behind Florida State’s Timmy Jernigan and Notre Dame’s Louis Nix III. He’s ranked No. 26 overall by CBS Sports, and the fourth-best defensive tackle. He’s listed as No. 22 by Rotoworld, earning comparisons to Michael Brockers, who since being drafted No. 14 overall by the St. Louis Rams has tallied 9.5 sacks.
Hageman could come off the board as early as 15th overall to the Pittsburgh Steelers. Of course, the Steelers’ pick will depend on where they rank Hageman on their list of defensive tackles and whether the team wants to address another position, such as defensive back, first. Hageman could be Casey Hampton’s successor and the new anchor of the defensive line.
Hageman could find a home with the Green Bay Packers, too. The team may lose Ryan Pickett to free agency and could use a versatile lineman who can slide in at the 3- or 5-technique alongside B.J. Raji.
If he slips past the aforementioned teams, he could land with the San Francisco 49ers. Given that Hageman may need time to adjust to the NFL, he could become a part of a rotation with veterans Justin Smith and Ray McDonald, and even succeed one of the two.