If you connect the dots between my post for Arrowhead Addict last week on misconceptions about the Chiefs first round draft pick and my first mock draft that went up at Fansided.com last Thursday it wasn’t hard to see this post coming. In my AA piece I made the argument that it was wrong for KC fans to assume that if the Chiefs draft a defensive player at pick #23 that it would be a defensive back. Then in my mock draft I mocked a player that I haven’t seen anyone else select for the Chiefs, Minnesota defensive tackle Ra’Shede Hageman. So this week I thought I would give Chiefs fans a detailed look at Hageman.
Let me start by saying that I am certainly not an NFL scout. I love the game. I study the game. I pay close attention to the opinions of those I have found to be credible. So this profile will include some of my personal opinion but will also draw together the opinions of many others whose background probably is slightly more credible than that of this music teacher by day/football blogger by night.
Let’s start with the facts:
Ra’Shede Hageman is a 6’6″, 310 lbs, defensive tackle from Minnesota. He was recruited as a tight end and didn’t make the shift to defensive line until college. Over his college career he totaled 92 tackles, 10 sacks, 10 pass deflections, and an interception. The majority of those stats came in his final two seasons (his only ones as a starter). Hageman is extremely athletic for a player his size. His combine results (while overshadowed by those of Jadeveon Clowney and Aaron Donald) were very impressive. His 5.02 40 yards dash, 35.5 inch vertical jump, and 114 inch broad jump were all numbers that beat several defensive end prospects despite the fact that Hageman is about 4 inches taller and 60 pounds heavier than some of them. While Clowney’s 34.5 inch long arms were used as a reason for his mediocre bench press results, Hageman’s equally long arms didn’t stop him from posting an impressive 32 reps. Simply put, Ra’Shede Hageman has the physical tools to be a stand out NFL defensive lineman. The question is if he will capitalize on those physical tools and actually be successful.
Before we get to evaluations of his play on the field, it’s worth noting that Hageman’s back story is one that rivals Michael Oher’s of “The Blind Side” fame. His story was wonderfully detailed by John Rosengen of SBNation.com in his story “Ra’Shede’s Road”. The story is too detailed and well written for my to do it justice in a quick summary. Here’s the opening:
He was born on fourth-and-long. Mom drank when she was pregnant with him. Traded sex for drugs while he was in diapers. State authorities dragged him out of a crack house closet when he was 4 years old. Threw Mom in prison. Dad? Dead before the kid met him.
Start most kids off like that, they’re looking at 15 to 20 by the time they’re 18. Unless they learn to catch a football in traffic or cut down a running back behind the line. That’s what Ra’Shede Hageman learned to do, which opened another path — one he followed to the University of Minnesota — where he’s a 23-year-old senior defensive tackle on the watch lists for this year’s Outland Trophy, Bronko Nagurski Trophy and the Chuck Bednarik Award. And that could lead to a first-round selection by the NFL. But his past could still outrun his future.
The bottom line is that Hageman has had to overcome a lot of personal obstacles to get to where he is today. If you’re at all interested, I highly recommend reading Rosenberg’s full article. It really gives you some perspective into Hageman the player and the person.
Now we move to his play on the field:
The general consensus is that Hageman has flashed the kind of ability that could make him an elite Pro Bowl caliber player in the NFL, but is very raw and inconsistent at this point and is in need of a lot of coaching to take his game to the next level. Here are some quotes from scouting reports that I found.
From NFL.com’s draft profile:
A raw, converted tight end with a basketball background, Hageman is a big, athletic, finesse three-technique with intriguing dimensions and movement skills who fits best in an aggressive, one-gap scheme where he could fire into gaps. Will probably be restricted to nickel pass-rush duty initially until the game slows down for him, but has impact potential if he ever figures it out. Is still maturing, having endured a harrowing childhood to get to where he is today, and would be best served landing in a structured environment with veteran mentorship. Classic boom-or-bust prospect.
They don’t come much more physically imposing than Hageman, whose broad shoulders, long arms and trim waist have generated comparisons from J.J. Watt to John Henderson.
Hageman’s physical tools are exciting and his rise from a tough childhood is inspirational, but best of all is his DL versatility. Hagemen looks more like a modern day offensive tackle, possessing broad shoulders, long arms and a relatively trim waist. He remains a bit raw but possesses first round traits.
Walterfootball.com’s Charlie Campbell had an intriguing player comparison:
Player Comparison: Justin Smith. Hageman is bigger than Smith (6-4, 285), but both of them are physical forces at the point of attack. They can toss linemen to the side and cause a lot of havoc in the backfield. Both players also have a burst off the ball and the speed to close. Smith is one of the best five-techniques in the NFL, and Hageman could also become an excellent 3-4 defensive end.
NFL.com’s Bucky Brooks had another interesting comparison in his article “Film Room: DT Ra’Shede Hageman is a Boom-or-Bust Prospect“:
He is not ready to assume a major role as a first-year starter, but could blossom into a difference-maker down the road. In fact, I believe that Hageman could become a Pro Bowl-caliber five-technique (defender aligned over top of the offensive tackle) in the mold of Calais Campbell in a 3-4 defense. While he has only played a few snaps at the position, he is a natural fit with his length and athleticism. He is strong enough to be a “two-gap” player, while also displaying the agility to move on stunts and games. Additionally, Hageman’s experience at the one- and three-technique would give him the versatility to play in the hybrid 3-4 schemes that are currently the rage in the NFL.
Another quote that caught my eye from Brooks’ article on Hageman at NFL.com was about his pass rushing upside:
If he can improve his snap count anticipation and hand usage, there isn’t any reason why he can’t produce six to eight sacks a season as an interior rusher as a pro.
For the record, Tyson Jackson has nine career sacks in five seasons, so six to eight sacks per season from Hageman would be a significant upgrade, to say the least.
Finally, after reading up on Hageman from other sources I decided I should look over some of his game tape for myself. At draftbreakdown.com they have eight of Hageman’s games (four from 2013, four from 2012) that you can watch where it’s cut to only include the plays that he was on the field. I recommend checking them out for yourself. The best ones to watch are probably Northwestern (2013) where you can see his interception and 3 batted passes, Michigan (2012) where he had six tackles and a sack, and their Texas Tech bowl game where he had six tackles, a sack, and a pass deflection.
My conclusion is that the above scouting reports are pretty spot on. You can go long stretches of games where Hageman is a non-factor. In fact, since he was receiving so much more attention (double teams/plays going away from him) in 2013 his game footage is often pretty boring. However, a few times each game he does something that your average player simply can’t do. That upside is too good to ignore. In fact, I would argue that his college game tape is actually better than that of Dontari Poe when he came out of Memphis and that has turned out pretty well for the Chiefs. What makes me especially intrigued is that he was transitioned to defensive line from tight end so that he’s still relatively new to the position. While that doesn’t completely excuse his average technique, it does make me think that he still has a lot of room to grow technique wise that could allow his talent to shine more.
I think Hageman would be perfect to line up next to Dontari Poe in the sub package. Hageman looked very good when he had a head full of steam going forward. On passing downs when he could attack without having to worry about the run as much he should be very effective right off the bat. He looked especially good on stunts where he could hit a seam with some momentum. Also, his athleticism and vertical jump make him a disruptive force even when doesn’t get to the QB (similar to JJ Watt and all his batted passes). An offensive line having to deal with two physical beasts like Poe and Hageman coming up the middle and Justin Houston and Tamba Hali coming off the edges would be an almost overwhelming challenge. Once Hageman learned the necessary technique he would be able to take over the 3-4 base DE that may be vacated by the pending departure of Tyson Jackson, making him doubly valuable.
Bottom line, I’m not sure there’s a player that will be available at #23 that may have a higher ceiling than Ra’Shede Hageman (assuming he makes it to #23). There may be safer players available, but the idea of getting someone at that spot that people are comparing to Justin Smith and Calais Campbell is very tempting. The Chiefs can draft a wide receiver or cornerback in the third round that could easily still contribute, but they won’t find a defensive lineman with this kind of elite physical abilities anywhere else in the draft. The fact that the Chiefs have been able to develop the elite physical abilities of Dontari Poe is a good sign that they may be able to do the same with Hageman. Plus, the fact that every time that Hageman has had his back against the wall he has responded and stepped up and put in the work needed to succeed makes me believe that he will do the necessary work at the next level as well.
I think the Chiefs should take a long hard look at Ra’Shede Hageman if he is available when they pick in the first round.
Here is Hageman’s game against Michigan in 2012. You can see an impressive sack about 20 seconds in.
What do you think Addicts? Do you like Hageman as a possible pick in the first round? Also, is there another player that you would like me to do a similar break down on for next week? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.
As always, thanks for reading and GO CHIEFS!!!!!!!!!!!!
Follow me on Twitter: @Lyle Graversen